There are already 53 million freelancers in the United States, and one-third of all millennials work for themselves. By 2020, it’s expected that one-half of the US labor force will tackle freelance work — at least to some extent — as the gig economy takes hold of the country.
Companies are increasingly turning to freelance workers for a number of reasons. For starters, they’re more affordable. Organizations don’t have to worry about covering a freelancer’s health care costs or payroll taxes, nor do they have to worry about offering them any perks or buying them any equipment. What’s more, while full-time employees draw steady paychecks even during the slowest times of the year, companies can hire freelancers on an as-needed basis, therefore investing their resources more effectively.
Despite those benefits, managing workers and keeping them engaged in the gig economy is not without its challenges. In order to take advantage of the benefits of the gig economy without letting the drawbacks thwart your organization’s progress, consider the following three tips:
Freelancer engagement starts with hiring the right people for the job. For example, if you’re looking to hire someone to do on-demand work for you on a regular basis, you may want to extend an offer to someone who is a full-time freelancer — not someone who has a full-time job and is looking to make a few extra bucks on the side.
Someone who works for themselves full-time depends on freelancing to pay their bills. They understand that if they don’t deliver, a company could decide to hire a different contractor. Someone looking to freelance on the side, on the other hand, might do a good job for a few weeks before realizing they bit off more than they can chew and opting to fall back on their full-time paycheck.
You’ll also want to make sure that the freelancer is actually skilled at the job they’re applying for. Give applicants a test (e.g., “write a press release for this product launch”) to see whether they have what it takes to deliver.
Your freelancers will rarely if ever step into your office. And, generally speaking, it’s not legal for companies to force their contractors to work during specific hours.
One of the easiest ways to increase freelancer engagement is by communicating with your contractors on a regular basis. Don’t leave them out of the loop. When major developments happen, make sure to inform them right away. A simple email or phone call will do.
You may also want to consider having standing meetings with your freelancers on a biweekly or monthly basis. Hop on a quick video call to catch up and see where things stand. Your freelancers will feel more connected to your company — and less isolated in general.
Just because freelancers aren’t full-time employees doesn’t mean they don’t need recognition. When your freelancers knock it out of the park, spend a few minutes writing them a quick thank-you note to let them know that you value their hard work. When they do an exceptionally spectacular job, consider sending them some sort of gift — like a $25 Amazon card — as a token of appreciation.
According to one study, 58% of workers believe that increased recognition would lead to better engagement. Since you want your freelancers to be just as engaged as your full-time employees, make sure you incorporate recognition into your freelance management routine.