The way that we work is changing. Trends indicate that freelancing is on the rise. Thus, even if you’ve never hired freelancers, you can expect your company to bring them on in the future.
This presents a unique challenge for HR professionals. Employees who stay with a company for a relatively long period of time are more likely to engage with the company culture.
When you work for the same organization for years, you become familiar with its values. Ideally, you also adopt those values. The same can’t always be said for freelancers. That doesn’t mean there’s no way to keep them engaged. You simply need to adjust your strategy. The following tips will help.
Find Out What’s Important to Them
Don’t assume that pay is the only reason why a freelancer will get excited about a project. Although that’s obviously part of the equation, it’s not the only part.
For example, some freelancers find that they are more productive and motivated when they are valued to the same degree as employees. Although they may not stay with your company forever, they want to know that you appreciate their efforts for as long as they’re there.
As an HR professional, you should discuss this with management. Encourage them to find out what aspects of a project motivate a freelancer. Quite simply, you can’t boost engagement among freelancers unless you first learn what’s important to them.
Again, the fact that a freelancer isn’t a permanent member of your team doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them as such. After all, with freelance work on the rise, there’s a good chance you’ll have numerous projects that require the help of a freelancer. It’s much easier to hire people whom you’ve worked with in the past, rather than trying to find a new freelancer every time the need for one arises. Freelancers may return in the future.
Thus, it’s smart to include them in team-building exercises and company events. These tactics are commonly used to engage permanent employees. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use them to engage your freelancers, as well.
Employees are more engaged when they know that they’re performing to a manager’s expectations. This is true whether they are working for the company full-time or on a freelance basis.
However, managers can sometimes overlook this fact. While they may remember to provide feedback to permanent team members with whom they share an office, it’s easy to forget about providing feedback to those who aren’t in the office and won’t be staying a company for very long.
HR professionals should ensure that managers understand that feedback is valuable to all employees. You might even consider adopting new continuous management tools designed to help managers stay in touch with freelancers. The long-term benefits will be worth the investment.
Companies that offer extra benefits to employees (such as gym memberships, free food, etc.) often witness an increase in engagement. Don’t make the mistake of depriving your freelancers of these benefits.
True, it may not be possible to offer freelancers all the perks that full-time employees enjoy. While catered lunches on Fridays may be appealing, you can only make them available to in-office workers. That said, there’s a good chance there are some benefits you offer that could be extended to freelancers. Review them to determine if doing so is practical. This is yet another simple, but effective way to boost engagement.
You hire someone because they have valuable skills. Ideally, you’re not simply choosing a candidate who can perform their daily tasks with a certain degree of reliability. You also want to ensure that you hire people who are sufficiently skilled in their area of expertise to provide feedback and insights from which the company can benefit. In the long run, engaging employees involves ensuring that they have opportunities to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way.
Freelancers should also have these opportunities. For instance, perhaps you hired a freelance marketing team to develop a product launch campaign. If you simply provided them with strict guidelines for generating the relevant content, you’re essentially telling them that you don’t value their input. You want them to essentially do the work exactly as directed.
That’s not a recipe for engagement. Instead, you would be better off letting the freelance marketing team have a say in planning the campaign strategy. While you don’t have to accept all of their suggestions, you can at least let them know that you’re willing to listen to them.
Remember, this advice is going to become even more valuable in the near future. With the gig economy on the rise, more companies are hiring freelancers rather than full-time employees. Keeping these points in mind will help you to keep them engaged.