Are you unwittingly turning away some of the top freelance talent in the market? Make a few changes to improve your freelancer friendliness.
Rashan Dixon -Co-founder of Techincon and Senior Business Consultant for Microsoft
Freelancers are no longer on the sidelines or carrying the water. They’re in the game as first-string players. However, they’re not going to play for a team that doesn’t fully embrace their presence or meet their needs.
Freelancers have become omnipresent in modern working environments. In fact, Upwork predicts that by 2027, more than half of all adults will fall in the “gig worker” category. And they aren’t just doing grunt work: Freelancers offer expertise in every silo, industry, and department, including the C-suite.
Start wooing the best talent to your company by rethinking the way you manage this ever-growing cadre of workers. You must embrace the fact that gig workers aren’t looking for the same corporate arrangements as on-site full-time or part-time workers. As Michael Burdick, CEO of Paro, a company that outsources freelance finance and accounting experts, explains, “The unique needs and motivations of freelancers — autonomy, independence, and consistent income — are only going to become more important. To optimize freelancer output, companies must begin to harness the power of these motivations.”
How, then, do you adjust your corporate culture to become more attractive to high-level freelancers? The key isn’t to make merely cosmetic changes, but to embrace more deep-rooted ones.
1. Pay freelancers on time.
Many freelancers lament receiving “snail mail” checks or waiting up to two months for remuneration. Not only does this put a kink in their revenue flow, but it reflects poorly on the companies hiring them. Although most freelancing professionals do expect some lag between project completion and payment, they appreciate being paid competitively and on a regular, timely basis.
Talk to your accounting or payroll specialist about clearly categorizing your freelance team members for payment and IRS reporting purposes. Then, investigate platforms and software like Hubstaff, Payoneer, or Venmo to make paying gig workers a breeze for your team and reduce the lag time for your freelancers. Make sure to keep all of your tax documents organized as well. Your freelancers will be happy, and so will you.
2. Provide some work perks.
Obviously, freelancers working halfway around the country or globe can’t enjoy your organization’s morning coffee hour or catered organic boxed lunches. However, they may be able to take advantage of some of your office perks. For instance, local freelancers may want to work out at your on-site gym or be visible at holiday parties. They most certainly would appreciate receiving bonuses based on projects they contributed to or for their consistent reliability over a period of time.
Another benefit that freelancers rarely get is help finding or acquiring health insurance. It’s the reason 35 percent of people told Upwork they weren’t sure about joining the freelancing fray. While you may not be inclined to give full health benefits to your gig workers, you can act as a health insurance broker for them. Uber and Etsy have both done this by partnering with Stride Health, which matches users with insurance plans. The employer provides access to the marketplace, but the worker covers the insurance costs. For those who have made the gig economy their full-time job, that access can make all the difference. Every effort counts and will increase the loyalty between you and your best freelancers.
3. Aid in professional development efforts.
Freelancers typically focus on their professional development solo. Buck this trend by giving them opportunities to advance their marketable skills on your dime. For instance, if you pay for other members of your team to engage in online certification programs, why not open the door for consistent, reliable freelancers to further their training, too? You could likewise pay freelancers to attend events, such as conferences, to further their understanding of your market and future positioning. You may even want to provide contract workers with the same onboarding training that your new full-time employees receive.
Taking this bold approach to talent development chips away at a freelancer hiring obstacle that, according to Robert Half, 25 percent of companies face: making gig workers feel like a part of the team. Not sure where to start? To address the freelance talent improvement issue, consider a platform like Fiverr’s Learn, which allows you to pay by the course.
Even if you’re only dabbling with freelancers today, you’ll no doubt be employing more in the coming months and years. Put your business on solid footing now, and you’ll become a beacon for rising freelance talent around the world.