A Living Wage is Important Even When Outsourcing

As the owner of an outsourcing agency, I keep my eyes open on social media for people looking for VA’s, bookkeepers etc..  This week, I saw a post by someone looking for a Virtual Assistant in a women’s business owner group on Facebook.  The offering is $25/hour for a part-time gig (about 5 hours a week) 2 of those hours need to be at her office/home and 3 hours will be running around doing errands.

She actually got a number of responses – which is good for her – but I feel sorry for the applicants.  One of the responses was from another woman in business telling her she could get someone for half that price if she looked around.  I’m not sure how someone is supposed to support themselves in Vancouver through multiple gig jobs paying $15-$25/hour. 

If we are asking someone to provide us with the luxury of only working with us for a couple of hours and are not prepared to commit to paying a full-time salary, then we ought to be prepared to pay for that luxury. Whether working with an agency like ours or working with an individual, there is considerable time put in that is not considered “chargeable” when people work outside of the employment agreement. If an outsourced independent worker has 40 hours of chargeable time then it’s likely she is putting in 10 – 40 hours of non-chargeable time. If she is working with an Agency like ours- it’s likely that 7 – 12 hours of her 40-hour week are dedicated to lunch, professional development, etc.. In a time when we are all discussing the benefits of a 4-day workweek, it would seem we are still asking workers in the gig economy to put in 50 – 80 work weeks and that doesn’t make sense.

So why do I care?  

I truly believe that administrative work is the work that holds a business together.  It’s the work that allows owners and executives the space to think big.   It’s predominantly work done by women and it’s almost always underpaid and undervalued. 

Even in my own company our admin team is generally paid less than our bookkeepers due to what the market will bear.   Yet our admin team requires a far greater array of skills and aptitudes. 

Our clients often come to us in a state of overwhelm, they need systems put in place and they are working tirelessly to grow their businesses.  They know that hiring great back office support can make the difference for their own success . . . and yet so many people seek to pay as little as possible for this work.

I would encourage all of us to think about how our businesses would function without our admin teams.   How would our businesses function with no customers (because people cannot afford our products)? 

At It’s Your Time, we have chosen to be a Living Wage Employer because it’s the right thing to do.  We ask our staff to work hard supporting local businesses’ growth and goals and in turn, they should be compensated at a rate that allows them to work one full-time job and afford housing, food and yes, even some recreation. 

On Thursday, it was announced there would be a 17% increase to the Living Wage and we are committed to continuing with our certification. **updated to add that in 2023 it was increased a further 6.6%

As a fellow business owner, I share the desire to reduce costs and the concern about profit margins that many small business owners have.   I encourage all of us to consider our people (outsourced or internal) our greatest asset and stop looking for the lowest-cost option.

To find out more about being a Living Wage Employer – check out Living Wage for Families Campaign

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