In almost all the sectors of Nigeria’s economy, outsourcing of staff has become the order of the day, as employers find the system conducive and profitable for business.
Sadly though, what is generally in operation is Casualization, which is often confused with Outsourcing. Casualization is the employment of casual staff, who have no contractual rights or benefits whatsoever. Outsourcing on the other hand employs staff with full labour satisfied rights and benefits such as fixed salary, pension, medical, paid annual leave and right of notice, or payment in lieu before their employment can be terminated. It is the job or service that is outsourced, not the staff. The Professional Outsourced Provider is the one that secures an Outsourcing Contract, which like all other contracts could be time-bound, one to three years contract.
The employees deployed by such a professional outsourcing company to service the contract ARE NOT contract or casual staff. They should be core staff of the Outsourced Provider. Such staff can be deployed to other contracts of the Provider in the event of the Outsourcing contract coming to an end.
It is actually this huge value gap in understanding, and even more, in professional practice of Human Resource Outsourcing in Nigeria that our company Resource Intermediaries Limited was established.
Resource Intermediaries Limited is a wholly indigenous company registered to engage in Human Resource Outsourcing services. The company has been in business since 2006 with a clientele spread all over Nigeria. The company is licensed to provide Outsourcing Services (General Administration, Human Resource Recruitment and Management, Janitorial Services, and related Business Support Services). Our approach is to leverage our knowledge in responding to client’s business needs flexibly. With growing clientele, our customers continue to gain tangible market advantages in three specific areas; rapid deployment of our systems and personnel, ultimately lower operating and transaction costs, and superior business management.
Our ability to deliver 10% – 30% overhead cost savings, with enhanced staff motivation using our unique outsourcing model has been proven to motivate and improve productivity without losing the cultural ties that the company may have developed over the years with managing non-core staff internally.
I am often asked, “What are Resource Intermediaries Limited’s contributions to the professional practice of outsourcing in Nigeria?”
Well, with all humility, my response is always “quite a lot.” Most significantly, within few years of our debut in 2006, we led the push for collaboration as against prevailing competition between providers of outsourcing service, as an innovative way to success.
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As far back as the year 2010, it dawned on my colleagues and I that the best way to establish Outsourcing as a professional management practice in Nigeria would be to initiate a program that would bring various stakeholders in the Outsourcing space together. Our target stakeholders were Users, Providers, Government at various levels, government parastatals, Health Management providers, pension administrators etc. Our study came up with an Outsourcing Conference which we named OutsourcingExpo, to hold on an annual basis. We reckoned that this would gradually register RIL as a thought leader, who was eager to set the standard by encouraging best practices and professionalism in outsourcing practice in Nigeria, away from casualisation.
The OutsourcingExpo started in 2012 as an initiative of Resource Intermediaries Limited. It instantly became the place to be for outsourcing Users, Providers and Advisors in Nigeria and beyond. Apart from networking opportunities, the latest trends and business deals were initiated and consummated at the OutsourcingExpo. An average of 250 delegates and 20 exhibitors participated in the maiden edition, while papers were delivered by industry leaders on prevailing topical issues of the day. The objective of the OutsourcingExpo was to provide a platform for the promotion of professional outsourcing practice in Nigeria and ultimately Africa, through capacity building and advocacy for all stakeholders.
Nobody has ever built a great thing alone. There is an instinctive feeling that the only way to get up is to pull those ahead down. Nooooo. We at Resource Intermediaries Limited Think Collaboration. We Think Multiplication. Creativity has long been thought to be an individual gift that is best pursued alone. This reasoning is a myth because Creativity is always collaborative even when you appear to be alone. Think of Jazz groups, theatre ensembles, football talents etc. Really, No one person or organisation can really attain greatness alone. This is why in 2013, leading industry players Vic Lawrence & Associates Ltd and Integrated Corporate Services Ltd were invited to work on the second edition of the OutsourcingExpo in collaboration with Resource Intermediaries Limited.
By 2014, the OutsourcingExpo was handed over to the Association of Outsourcing Professionals of Nigeria (AOPN) to broaden its scope and reach. The AOPN has since run the yearly event successfully in fulfillment of its Vision to create a catalyst hub for enhancing the outsourcing profession in Nigeria. Greater awareness has since been created in Nigeria for Outsourcing as a professional service offering through this initiative.
In spite of these contributions by RIL, outsourcing practice remains largely unregulated. This is because there still isn’t any enabling legislation to guide the practice as it should be. Sadly, the legislation currently being considered fails to distinguish casualisation from outsourcing, a professional management practice. Any proposed legislation should strive to compel businesses that outsource to meet specified minimum standards as befits for staff deployed to them. These benefits should be part of the contractual engagements funded by the company outsourcing. Examples of these benefits are Payment of full salary for one month for staff disengaged within 12 months and one additional month for every additional year such staff has worked in the outsourced engagement. Another should be access to Medical cover for all staff, spouses and max of two children. What obtains now is typically for staff only, where it is provided at all.
Another contribution that we have been making through the years is in the provision of capacity building services. This is in aid of reducing unemployment, by providing training on core skills required for the job market. This is a major challenge as many of our graduates are either unemployable or they are underemployed. While we are only able to provide employment when our clients engage us to recruit for them, our contribution in a more meaningful way, has been in two folds:-
- We started The RIL Finishing School nine years ago (2012). To date, 85 3-5 days training streams have been held, with 2,675 people thought. The training covers 18 modules such as Mastering the Art of Interviews, CV Writing skills, Attitude and Character for Success in Life, Self-presentation and Public Speaking Tips, How to Run a Small-scale Business Successfully, Problem Solving Skills, Effective, Customer Service Skills, Accounting for Non-Accountants and lots more.
- We promote entrepreneurship through provision of grants and one-on-one coaching sessions.
In recent years, having established us as uniquely different from the general practice of casualisation, we pivoted to providing co-workspaces and serviced flexible offices within the same outsourcing model. As is our pedigree, we have set the standards in that space in about three years of operation of our theBUNKer ®️co-working facilities.
theBUNKer ®️ is a co-work facility chain with flexible offices, training space and private offices for short and long letting. We currently serve the public in Lekki Phase 1 and Yaba both in Lagos, plus two other outlets in Abuja and Ibadan.
Key Attributes of theBUNKer facilities are, flexible and unbelievable rates, with something for everyone, cozy, colourful yet functional spaces and multiple seating spaces, built for those seeking that proudly African feel. Each facility also has a Cafe on site, with to die for beverages and snacks while you work, or just at lounge. They also boast of multiple spaces for meetings (formal and not so formal), longer opening hours, 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and ideal for that quite evening needed to close out your work. To cap it all, we are open on public holidays, when you need somewhere quiet and cozy for that creative work, meeting, or simply me time alone.
There are huge opportunities for Outsourcing in Nigeria, even though it is an area that is largely populated by inexperienced and questionable Providers. Again, Outsourcing as a management practice simply means to transfer work responsibilities and decision rights to someone outside an organisation. This understanding has progressively led us at RIL to explore how we could use our local knowledge, and experience through the last fifteen years, and growing, to provide quality and ethical outsourcing services in Nigeria.
Here’s a little gift, in commemoration of our 15th anniversary. It is a litmus test question to guide any organisation which is still not sure if they should make the decision to outsource:-
- Is this activity of the business where it’s future leaders could come from?
- Is the business so good at the activity that other businesses would hire it to do it for them?
- If we started from scratch today, would the business build the capability or engage the process internally?
If the answer is ‘No’ to any of the above, then you may consider Outsourcing as a business Management process.
Looking through our fifteen years, we believe we have been of great value to the Nigerian society, and economy with the provision of employment for thousands of people, while also being a responsible corporate entity.
Looking back, the last fifteen years Nigeria has been great for our company, and we look forward to the next fifteen, with renewed hope and belief in the good people and nation of Nigeria.
**Soji Oyawoye is the CEO of Resource Intermediaries Limited and writes from Lagos.