The freelance economy is on the rise, with a higher percentage of businesses employing independent contractors each year. If you have a small business or start-up, working with freelancers can be a good option for several reasons. You can benefit from their specialist knowledge, even if you might not have the need for a full-time employee in that area just yet. But managing freelancers comes with its own set of challenges. You want to motivate your contractors to do their best work, but how can you do this without the allure of a full-time contract with benefits? Here are a few tips to keep all contractors happy, engaged, and ready to turn in their best work for your business venture.
- Make your expectations clear.
One of the first ways to build a positive relationship with your freelance contractors is through being clear about expectations right from the beginning. Ask the freelancer what he or she is expecting from this project, and make it clear what you are expecting in return. Create documents that back this up, or sign a contract to that effect. You may be working with a freelancer entirely at a distance without checking in day to day, and contractors won’t know the ins and outs of your company the way your full-time employees do. Detailed briefs lead to a more satisfactory finished product on both ends.
- Consider team-building activities.
Your freelancers won’t be part of the full-time team, and will miss out on the usual office banter. Build relationships and improve morale with team-building activities that bring them into the fold. Whether it’s inviting them into the office chatroom or taking them out for a celebratory dinner at the end of a project, let them know their work is appreciated.
- Use cloud-enabled systems for collaboration.
Consider the ways you communicate and collaborate carefully. Most businesses now use cloud applications to work with freelancers, whether it’s through Google Drive or Nokia Networks. Cloud services let you share files securely at a distance, making it as simple as possible for the freelancer to work alongside the usual team.
- Offer competitive pay.
An easy way to engage a freelance contractor is to offer a high rate of pay. Shop around and do your research first to see what the going rate for freelancers is in his or her industry, whether it’s graphic design or copywriting day rates. Always pay market rates to show their work is valued. If you pay less than the market rate, you’re more likely to get amateur work.
- Avoid micromanagement.
One of the biggest perks of freelancing is flexibility. There’s nothing freelancers hate more than being micromanaged on a project every step of the way. It’s fair to ask for a training period where you work closely with the contractor, but once you’re confident they’ve got the hang of it, back off. Chances are, they’re working with other clients and balancing multiple projects. If you don’t trust the contractor to do the job right, find someone else.
- Give positive feedback.
Finally, give feedback along the way. Just like full-time employees, freelancers benefit from constructive criticism as well as positive feedback. This helps strengthen your working relationship, keeping them more engaged along the way. By taking the time to engage workers, you can improve your chances of working together in the future.