How to Master the Employer-Employee Relationship for Freelancers
by YOSS Community Writer, on June 28, 2019 at 11:00 AM
For the companies that master it, making freelancers part of the team creates a wealth of advantages. Under the right circumstances, delegating work to a freelancer could give potential new hires the opportunity to grow into a full-time position. Yet even if freelancers never become full-time employees, cultivating your relationships with them gives your team a level of versatility that can’t be ignored.
Freelancers are a source of expertise that you can draw on (and compensate) when, where, and how you need it. Among other things, that means you save on costs and can enjoy a quicker turnaround for each project. We work with remote freelancers in different time zones, which allows us to get work done overnight and have projects delivered before our full-time team even arrives in the office.
The bigger the impact a project or position has on revenue, the greater the benefits that freelancing can offer. However, the risks can also be greater: If a freelancer doesn’t complete the work on time, then the delay could cost you revenue straight off the top line. Such risks are lower for companies that know to treat their freelancers fairly and effectively integrate them into their teams.
With nearly 35 percent of today’s workforce being composed of freelancers, it’s worth the investment to foster those relationships properly.
It Isn’t Hit-or-Miss
The biggest appeal of becoming a freelancer is having the freedom to work remotely and on a fluid schedule. That doesn’t mean freelancers take their responsibilities lightly or that finding good talent is hit-or-miss because of the size of the talent pool. In fact, this flexibility and the large talent pool can actually help you find the best talent for the job, irrespective of location.
If you are referred to an exceptional data scientist on the other side of the nation or find someone with niche skills you need for a project who lives in another country, it might actually be more efficient for you to work with that person on a freelance basis as opposed to trying to find someone closer to your location.
How to Handle Remote Employees
Like any employee, freelancers are most productive and beneficial to the team when they truly feel like they're part of it, regardless of their remote status, and when they understand the objectives and mission of the project and company. With 50% of the U.S. workforce soon to be remote, the new priority now becomes hiring motivated, high quality talent to make an impact. Many companies don’t benefit from the full potential of freelancers because they fail to actually make them part of the team or communicate their needs and vision effectively. After all, studies have shown that a large majority of Millennials are drawn to freelance work, and we know they are driven by purpose. So connect them with the purpose of your company to motivate them.
It’s common for companies to dole out assignments without providing the necessary background information or to fail to strategize communications with freelancers in different regions and time zones. On top of that, 58 percent of freelancers have at some point in the past not been paid for their work, according to a recent study conducted by PayPal. Pay might not be the sole motivating factor, but the lack thereof certainly won't generate a good outcome.
Companies Must Communicate Clearly and Often
Working for a company that doesn’t value them won’t motivate freelancers to be as dedicated as their full-time counterparts. On the other hand, companies that invest in fostering those relationships will quickly learn that the skills and experience freelancers bring to the table can be a highly valuable advantage. What that investment looks like will depend on the company, the freelancer, and the nature of the position. Generally, however, developing the kind of relationship that equally benefits freelancers and companies requires consistent communication.
Onboarding a full-time employee typically involves a healthy amount of interaction and communication between management and the employee in question. The same isn’t always true for bringing in freelancers, though it’s an equally important step that ensures a smooth introduction. Keep the lines of communication open and active, set clear expectations before the project kicks off, and communicate about every milestone. Ready to onboard a high quality freelancer for your project? Check out Yoss' platform and get access to our database of 4-million technical candidates.
Unlike an email with a few instructions and no clear guidelines, an open line of communication between you and your freelancer makes you both feel part of the same team. That’s the principle we use in our own on-boarding process: We add freelancers to our Slack group, schedule weekly calls with them, and, if the opportunity arises, give them the chance to expand their talents with more responsibilities.
Freelancers Must Always Be Transparent
The company-freelancer partnership is a two-way street, and for companies to take them seriously, freelancers also have to foster that relationship. Overselling skills or the time they have available to deliver will make the project's results disappointing. Clients won't receive the quality of work they were expecting, and no company can afford to continue investing in a freelancer who doesn't meet its standards. Similarly, if expectations and scope of work is not clear at the outset, freelancers have a responsibility to seek clarity for the benefit and protection of both themselves and their clients.
That level of transparency is equally important throughout the course of the relationship. The more projects and responsibilities freelancers take on, the more full-time employees they’ll have to collaborate with. Collaboration can be tricky between team members who might never meet in person, but building a foundation of trust, communication, and transparency makes it easier and more efficient each time.
Making room for freelancers to be valuable members of your company and team isn’t particularly difficult. It requires only that you treat freelancers as real assets and that freelancers remain transparent about what they offer. You likely have a value proposition to attract full-time employees. As working with freelancers becomes increasingly commonplace, it's time for companies to think about developing a freelancer value proposition. If both parties follow those guidelines, their partnership will flourish.
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