Using Freelancers the Right Way

Using Freelancers the Right Way

There are several benefits of including freelancers as part of your staffing mix, says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms.

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It’s cost-effective, helps prevent bad hires and benefits current employees. Domeyer expands on each of those points:

  1. Cost-effective: Many companies want to make sure there is an ongoing need before hiring a full-time employee. “Bringing in freelancers allows organizations to staff up without facing the prospect of layoffs if the demand for their services wanes,” says Domeyer. A specialized staffing firm, like The Creative Group, can help companies quickly find freelancers with the particular skills they seek and do a lot of the legwork hiring entails, including interviewing, skills evaluation and reference checks.
  2. It helps prevent bad hires: Freelancers who have performed well in their role make good candidates for full-time positions. This approach can help employers avoid costly hiring mistakes since they’re already familiar with the candidates’ work.
  3. It benefits your employees: When freelancers are brought in to fill skills gaps, they often can impart their knowledge on full-time employees, helping to develop their knowledge base.

Hiring freelancers is also the most cost effective solution for assisting on a potential short-term project, says Marisa Vrona, Talent Engagement Manager of the Chicago, IL branch of WunderLand Group, a creative staffing solutions firm. The organization does not have to offer healthcare benefits or a full-time commitment to this person.

But that doesn’t mean the commitment to making them feel like a part of the team should be any less than that of permanent staff members. The old adage ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ really applies here, says Vrona. Welcome freelancers – whether on or off-site – to the team and be sure to provide them the same perks as permanent employees.

“I have worked with freelancers who told me they were unable to attend meetings at their previous employer or partake in the free snacks that were provided to employees in the kitchen every day,” says Vrona. “This kind of seclusion causes resentment and could lower the freelancer’s productivity. On the flip side, I’ve spoken to freelancers who walked into a company and were treated equally and could tell that people took a vested interest in them as a person.”

They were treated as just another part of the team, engaged in discussion about their family and personal life, invited to lunch and happy hours and invited to participate in workplace celebrations such as birthday celebrations. These people had wonderful things to say about their previous company and employers, Vrona added.

To successfully manage the relationship and experience with freelancers Vrona provides these tips for employers currently using freelancers, or considering hiring freelancers:

  1. Don’t treat them like an outcast. Get to know them as a person, as you would with any other employee.
  2. Don’t burn bridges. You never know where you will meet or work with this particular freelancer again.
  3. Happy people produce quality and successful results.

“Freelancers are a benefit to any company that is looking to add a new value to the organization,” says Vrona. “Freelancers can add a different and outside perspective than your current employees, who may have tunnel vision from working at your company for years.”

To get the most production from freelancers, it’s important to spend time upfront acclimating them to their new work environment and making them feel like one of the team, says Domeyer. This means preparing for their arrival and reviewing key information on their first day.

In addition, consider these tips, from Domeyer.

  • DO provide a welcoming workspace. Set up a comfortable work area with all the materials and equipment – including up-to-date software and technology – the freelancer will need to complete his or her work.
  • DON’T keep other employees in the dark. Introduce the freelancer to your staff and inform them of the nature and length of his or her assignment. Explain to full-time employees that the freelancer is being brought on board to help lighten their workload.
  • DO clarify project details. Define the scope of the project the freelancer was hired for, identify objectives and expectations, establish clear deadlines, and provide specific instructions. Put these guidelines in writing, if possible.
  • DON’T forget to go over office protocol. Conduct an orientation, company overview and facility tour. Explain policies, security procedures, office hours and any unwritten rules, such as employees’ preferred communication styles.
  • DO assign a point person. Appoint a specific contact to whom the freelancer reports and can go to when questions or concerns arise.
  • DON’T lose touch. Communicate interim goals and changes in project direction in a timely manner to ensure that the freelancer has the information necessary to complete his or her work within budget and on deadline. Provide frequent input on the status of the project, and let the freelancer know you value his or her expertise.”

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Written by

Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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