52 per cent of execs say in-house expertise not worth paying for

Specialized knowledge outsourcing ‘key strategy’: Survey

Fifty-two per cent of Canadian business executives said it’s not worth it to pay for in-house expertise in niche areas of business anymore. In fact, they think outsourcing for specialized expertise will be a growing trend this year, according to a survey released by accounting and business advisory firm Richter.

“We’re seeing some important shifting tides that are building a new booming ‘borrowed expertise’ market in Canada,” said Mitch Silverstein, partner at Richter in Toronto. “This specialized knowledge outsourcing will be a key strategy to drive business growth in the foreseeable future.”

The outsourcing trend is emerging from a crisis-like niche talent shortage, said The Canadian BizHealth Report, based on a survey of 501 senior executives.

Nearly six in 10 respondents (58 per cent) said that for company growth, they follow their gut instinct to identify where the business should go and then have the experts on their team chart that path.

The challenge, however, for 71 per cent of the respondents is recruiting top talent. This task is becoming increasingly difficult, they said, and they’ve had to increase salary ranges in order to attract and retain quality employees.

Moreover, 77 per cent of respondents said one of their biggest competitive challenges is finding a support team that can keep up with them on an entrepreneurial path. This may explain why businesses are divided on where they’d allocate resources for internal investments — 39 per cent would invest in their employees, while another 39 per cent would focus on product and technology development.

“The entrepreneurial spirit that’s growing among the Canadian workforce can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword for business leaders,” said Silverstein. “While that spirit is fantastic for fresh idea generation and innovation, some business executives are feeling run over by a young labour force who wants to learn everything it can within a couple of years, and then jump ship for a bigger salary.”

On the other end of the spectrum, 41 per cent of business executives reported knowing someone, be it colleagues, friends or family, who has left their job to pursue personal entrepreneurial goals within the past year. This is a significant talent retention challenge for businesses, said Richter.

“We are most definitely seeing an entrepreneurial psychology taking over both the youngest and oldest generations in today’s workforce — the rise of the ‘greypreneur’ and ‘solopreneur’,” said Silverstein. “They are embracing the mindset of ‘Why should I work as hard as I can so other people can make money?’ They want to be their own boss, and they are OK with the risks that come with that move.”

Many entrepreneur-minded business professionals would rather keep their gains for themselves and build a niche expertise on their own, he said.

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