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5 ways to ensure freelancers are enthusiastic and productive

The secrets to keeping your freelancers working with you for years to come.

From 2005 to 2015, 94 per cent of the net employment growth in the U.S. was in “alternative work arrangements” — defined as temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers and independent contractors or freelancers. Recent projections suggest that in the next decade, the majority of North Americans will be independent workers.

In light of this dramatic workplace shift, companies of all shapes and sizes are catching onto the fact that the ‘gig economy’ is here to stay. Now, increasing numbers of businesses are turning to freelancers and contractors to help them achieve their objectives.

Hiring contractors on a per-project basis can help decrease your overhead while saving the company considerable amounts of time onboarding new staff. But in order to get the most out of your relationship with your freelancer partners, some ground rules need to be followed.

So here are five tips to ensure you can always tap into the talents of a terrific freelancer when your business needs their help.

1. Communicate clearly

The best way to ensure a pleasant and respectful relationship with your freelancers is to always communicate your expectations as clearly as possible. This will ensure that there’s no confusion over deliverables, roles, responsibilities and due dates.

Always have a clear contract policy in place for every project. Whether you’re bringing on a contractor to help each month or on a per-project basis, it’s critical to sign a new contract every time, unless you’re operating under a retainer model.

2. Pay them correctly and on time

Many businesses love working with contractors because they can avoid the hassle of having to worry about paying an employee a salary every two weeks. But ensure you still pay them according to the agreement based on the project price or hours worked, and ensure your accounts payable is delivering payment on time.

Not only can late payments be subject to additional interest, but if payment due dates are missed regularly (most invoices are due within 30 days) then you may soon find yourself searching for another freelancer.

3. Give them the tools to do the job

Crafting a successful relationship with your contractors relies on effective communication, but also requires that your freelancers are equipped with the right tools to do the job properly.

If your company has any unique processes or project-specific software, your freelancer either needs to have these tools in their arsenal already, or you’ll need to create accounts for them. Software such as Google Suite and Slack, or even the basics like a phone extension and company email address, may be tools to consider offering your contractors to ensure they’re in the loop.

4. Maximize their skills

While most freelancers specialize within a specific industry, many of them are able to handle multiple types of tasks to help support your business. In fact, 61 per cent of freelancers specialize in two to three talents.

With this in mind, don’t be afraid to ask them for help with something. Odds are, they could be of assistance — or they could refer you to another freelancer. Not only does asking more of your freelancer build a positive and trusting relationship, but it can also relieve the pressure of having to manage multiple contractors at once.

5. Share your goals and ask for help

Contrary to popular belief, freelancers care just as much about helping you meet your business objectives as an employee would. After all, if your business doesn’t succeed then they also lose work and an income source.

With this in mind, don’t be afraid to talk to your freelancers as though they are a part of your business’ team. Share your company’s vision, goals and processes so everyone can be on the same page and work in lockstep with one another.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really take much to keep your contractors and freelancers happy. All you need to do is work towards striking the right balance of the areas listed above. This will build loyalty and morale, while also positively enhancing your business’ reputation.


Up Next: Five ways to help your staff connect and develop a winning team spirit.

Alyson Shane

Alyson Shane is a writer and business owner from Winnipeg, Manitoba who has been publishing content online for 16+ years. She runs Starling Social, an agency which develops digital marketing strategies that combine social media, paid advertising and content strategy to keep businesses growing and engaged with their customers. Outside the office, Alyson is a passionate urbanist who loves gardening, riding her bike and thinking about the public spaces that bring us together. She can be reached on social media at @alysonshane.

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