Does your company have DIY employees? Read this article if you want to know who they are, how to identify them and how to use their potential to innovate, grow and improve productivity.

In times of economic boom and rapid growth, companies took advantage of the favorable environment to expand. In many cases, this meant hiring certain services to external providers. With the economic crisis, however, many companies must cut costs, which usually means terminating these services.

Interestingly, this contraction of the companies has created a propitious atmosphere to the expansion of a professional profile hitherto little known and valued: the DIY (do it yourself) employee.

DIY employees are characterized by having skills, interests and semi-professional knowledge not directly related to their functions in the company, allowing them to replace the services offered by external providers.

These employees, besides, enjoy researching, discovering and testing new ways of doing things at work. They detect dysfunctions in their areas of interest and devise systems to improve the performance.

Some examples of areas where DIY employees often display their skills are social networking, graphic design, marketing, publishing of magazines and other documentation, network management or maintenance of facilities. In general, those tasks most typically performed by external suppliers.

The reasons why DIY employees may replace a provider are mainly three:

a) The company cannot or doesn’t want to hire a service to an external provider and the employee is asked to assume that task.

b) The company wants to expand their activities and, instead of resorting to an external provider, the employee is proposed to assume that task.

c) The employee, on its own initiative, undertakes a new task that leads to the improvement of the company on some particular field, which would otherwise have required an external provider.

The potential of such employees is enormous since, besides allowing the company to expand without assuming additional costs, they are an invaluable source of innovation, continuous improvement and increased productivity.

However, DIY employees need a corporate culture that tolerates or openly encourages such initiatives. In highly hierarchical companies, where only the merits of the management team are recognized or where there is no room for freedom of action, these workers will go unnoticed.

The conclusion is clear. If we want our company to enjoy the benefits of having DIY employees, first of all, we must make an effort to create the conditions that favours their appearance. And second, when we need to add new members to our team, we should consider, beyond the basic requirements, those attitudes that could indicate us that we find ourselves facing a DIY employee.