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Jobs Offshore

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The Chore Goes Offshore
Gwendolyn F. Thompson

Abstract Companies that want to be successful in today’s shrinking economy, realize they have to be savvy and innovative in their approaches to motivating and energizing the workforce in order to meet their organizational goals. Pfizer is meeting that challenge through its new and innovative program called PfizerWorks. This program allows employees to shift tasks offshore to one of two Indian service-outsourcing firms located in India. Pfizer is displaying the type of leadership required and needed to energize and motivate their workforce.

The Chore Goes Offshore The number one resource of any business is its employees; keeping employees motivated and energized is a way to meet a company’s organizational goals. Most companies understand that a happy employee is a productive employee. Pfizer understands that concept and that is why they have launched their new program, PfizerWorks; whereby shifting tedious and time consuming tasks offshore. PfizerWorks is the brainchild of Jordan Cohen, the architect and head of this new program. Cohen recalls seeing one of his recruits from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., a new father stay late at the office one night to crunch number and search for information on the Web. To Cohen, it didn’t seem like the time best spent (Jones & George, 2011, p. 322). This observation brought about the creation of ‘PfizerWorks’ which is a tool that addresses the concerns of employees having to do tedious and time consuming tasks. An article in Business Week highlights the concerns of Pfizer’s employee, David Cain as noted in Essentials of Contemporary Management (2011): David Cain loves his job. Well, most of it anyway. Cain finds real satisfaction in assessing environmental real estate risks, managing facilities, and overseeing a multimillion-dollar budget for the pharmaceutical giant. Further, Cain says that he does not love creating Power-Point slides and riffling through spreadsheet (p. 322). Essentials of Contemporary Management (2010) in an article by Time Magazine states, “Lucky for Cain, Pfizer now lets him punt those tedious and time-consuming tasks to India, with the click of a button. PfizerWorks, launched early last year, permits some 4,000 employees to pass off-parts of their jobs to outsiders” (322). Due to the savings in cost and time, Longenecker (2010) states, “The basic forces behind global expansion can be divided into four general categories: expanding markets, gaining access to resources, cutting costs, and capitalizing on special features of location” (p. 469). Because employees are asked to do more, it’s even more appealing to the workforce to have the option of choosing what jobs to do or shift offshore. David Kreutter, Pfizer’s vice president for U.S. commercial operations says, “This novel twist on outsourcing comes at a time when other resources are dwindling. As companies cull people by the thousands – Pfizer itself announced some 8,000 job cuts in January—those who stay behind are behind are being asked to do more. Jones and George (2011) states, “In a down economy, though, it’s especially critical that executives direct their energies to motivating teams, creating new products, and thinking strategically about their next move” (p. 322). This strategic plan of Pfizer is working to keep employees happy and to motivate them; Cain, who is now intrinsically motivated now, because tedious and time consuming tasks are outsourced to India by a click of a button. Jones and George (2011) notes Cain remarks that, “It has really been a godsend. I can send them something in the evening, and the next morning it’s waiting for me when I get to the office” (p. 322). In an economy where companies are reducing hours and cutting jobs, and putting more work on employees, it’s even more noticeable that outsourcing certain tasks contributes to employee motivation. Further, Jones & George (2011) explain, “According to Expectancy Theory, managers can promote high levels of motivation in their organization by taking steps to ensure that expectancy is high (people think that if they perform at a high level, they will receive certain outcomes), and valance is high (people desire these outcomes)” (p. 319). The potential for decreased expectancy is not likely because when feedback is given to the employee, because they know how well they are doing in the performance of their jobs. Jordan Cohen, architect and head of the PfizerWorks program states, “Pfizer is now looking to expand the program to more employees and to a wider array of tasks” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 323). Additionally, the company is allowing the employees to participate in rating their satisfaction with the finished product from outsourcing. Pfizer is also testing an arrangement with a local firm to do their administrative tasks; a service provider that will employ people with physical disabilities to do the work. Pfizer believes outsourcing tasks will serve as a mechanism to inspire other workers to be just as motivated in performing their jobs. Essential Contemporary Management (2011) offers this perspective on the Learning Theories: Operant conditioning theory suggests that managers can motivate people to perform highly by using positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement (positive reinforcement being the preferred strategy). Managers can motivate people to avoid performing dysfunctional behaviors by using extinction or punishment. Social Learning Theory suggests that people can also be motivated by observing how others perform behaviors and receive rewards, by engaging in self-reinforcement, and by having high levels of self-efficacy (p. 319). The leadership at Pfizer is taking steps to ensure their workforce is energized and motivated by their new program, PfizerWorks. Employees now have the selective capability to shift those tedious and time consuming tasks offshore.

Jones, G. R. and George, J. M. (2011). Essentials of Contemporary Management (4th ed.). Boston: Irwin McGraw-Hill.
Longenecker. G. J. (2010).Small Business Management (15th ed.).Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning.

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