The gig economy is full of successful freelancers. According to a 2017 survey from Upwork.com, 36% of the U.S. workforce did freelance work. And research from MBO Partners State of Independence shows that almost 20% of full-time freelancers earn over $100,000 annually. Among the benefits of hiring freelancers is employers get to cut down on recruiting and training costs, less work involved in hiring and that freelancers tend to work more flexible hours. But once the hiring is done, managing freelancers can be a challenge. No matter how talented the freelancer is, you can run into lots of trouble if you don’t manage them correctly. Here’s some tips on how to manage freelancers in the gig economy:
1) Set expectations clearly
Take time to discuss what you expect from them, but also ask them what their goals are for the project. What are they looking to get out of this opportunity? What can you do to help make their job easier? Do they have any ideas for the projects(s) you will have them working on? Make it a conversation instead of a monologue. Don’t micromanage but check in regularly on their progress and keep an open door of communication.
Also, when managing freelancers, it’s so important to get all the details of your agreement in writing. This is for the benefit of both you and the freelancer, so there is no question about expectations. Details in the agreement should include how much you will pay, how long the time commitment is, when both parties will be available, dates/times of deadlines, etc.
2) Nurture relationships with freelancers
When managing freelancers, you want to treat them like a full-time employee. That way, you can build a pool of talent for future projects with workers that are already familiar with your business. Otherwise it will be more work constantly training new freelancers. Many employers make the mistake of assuming that because freelancers aren’t full-time employees they don’t need to put much effort into a relationship with them. Make them feel a part of your team, offer them feedback regularly and praise when it’s due. Also inquire about other projects they have in the works and their lives outside of work, such as hobbies and family.
3) Automate project management
When managing freelancers, one of the best ways to make their job easier is to use quality software that performs project management tasks such as keeping track of freelancers and the hours they work, assigning the right freelancer to projects as they come up and sending emails. Some of the good software products out there are Trello, Asana and Zapier.
4) Compensate them fairly
If you aren’t giving a lot of thought to rewarding freelancers fairly, then you don’t know how to manage freelancers in the gig economy. Look into what the standard rate is for someone with their skills and experience and find out what their going pay rate has been for other projects. When managing freelancers, you have options for how you will pay them depending on the nature of your work agreement, such as a monthly retainer or project-based pay.
If you truly value their work and care about your company’s reputation and long-term relationships with freelancers, you won’t be afraid to generously reward them. Also consider giving them other privileges your full-time employees have, such as use of company fitness facilities, participation in the company’s profit sharing program and flexible working hours.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.