Thriving in the Gig Economy

Can Freelancers Really be Part of Your Business Team?

A business owner and business team are meeting with virtual freelancers to discuss a project suggesting how impactful they are when working together. 

Is it possible for a contract employee to feel like they’re part of your business team? Does that even matter?

Yes! says Elizabeth Eiss, the Founder and CEO of the talent curation and freelance recruiting platform ResultsResourcing. She believes skilled quality contract talent can be a meaningful part of a business growth plan.  

Why should managers and business owners view contractors as part of their team?

No one has control over workers, whether they’re W2 employees or contractors. So, the idea that it’s more secure to have full-time employees is accurate only when the work circumstances foster it – such as wages, benefits, work/life balance, and workplace culture and community.

This may require a slight shift to their overall mindset, but small and mid-sized business owners and their HR departments should start focusing on “access to talent” instead of “talent acquisition.”

Sensibly utilizing freelancers allows these businesses to access a pool of talent they might not attract as full-time employees or could not afford. In addition, freelancers bring new skills, dynamic marketplace experience and perspectives that can be very valuable.

Freelancers also enable a business to scale up and down on-demand as required by customer demand or project needs. This strategy provides some much-needed agility during unpredictable times.

Why do freelancers freelance?

Understanding why people decide to freelance as a career instead of seeking full-time employment is helpful when trying to integrate them into a team.

Many people begin a freelancing career as a side-hustle to a traditional job. Often, it’s a passion project, something they enjoy and can maybe make a couple of bucks doing it. However, as they gain experience, they realize it can be independently sustainable with enough work.

Others may need the flexibility that freelancing provides for various reasons, such as family or work/life balance.

How is managing freelancers different from supervising full-time employees?

It's a matter of leadership and vision, Eiss says. “I actually think good leadership is similar whether you are supervising W2 employees or contractors. Success depends on well-defined work and hiring the right skill set to perform that work in both cases. Substantive and regular communications and performance feedback, positive and directional, are essential for both sets of employees.   Leading staff to embrace a vision, mission and work accordingly is powerful influencing  behavior that engages vs an old-time command and control approach (which didn’t work well with employees or contractors0

When it comes to making a contract employee feel like part of the team, being inclusive and fostering healthy collaboration and teamwork is crucial. If contractors are appropriately sourced and vetted, it’s more a matter of onboarding and leading the existing team to embrace a contractor, like you would an employee from another division or department.  

What are some best practices to onboard freelancers and make them a part of the team?  

A freelancer is an independent contractor, and the business is a client. They want the collaboration to work as much as the employer does. Still, there are a few best practices that will smooth the onboarding process:

  1. The Baseline
  • Prepare materials to share with the freelancer about the company, product or service, corporate values, business culture, etc.
  • Set clear job duties, measures of success, and timeframes for deliverables.
  • Provide necessary tools, access, and content.
  1. Communications
  • Have a kick-off session to review the role and to build a more detailed work plan, if necessary.
  • Schedule regular communication and review times as a manager
  • Include freelancers in all vital team communications.
  1. Teamwork expectation
  • Introduce them to the team with whom they’ll be working.
  • Assign a buddy; this both drives engagement and ups the accountability of W2 employees.
  1. Recognition
  • Acknowledge the freelancer contribution to the team and routinely provide constructive positive and corrective feedback.
  • Acknowledge the team for new behaviors, collaboration, helping the business     become more nimble

Finally, it’s important to remember that the freelancer is independent. You may not be able to control hours or how their work gets done. That’s why you want to manage the results, not the method.

If you need additional help onboarding freelancers, developing a relationship with a trusted recruiting provider can help. To schedule a complimentary talent assessment and job survey session with ResultsResourcing CEO Elizabeth Eiss, click HERE.

ResultsResourcing blog

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