Hiring and Managing Freelancers: Discover 5 Benefits

Hiring and Managing Freelancers: Discover 5 Benefits

Reskilling to Address Skill Gap

If there is anything Covid-19 brought most foremost to our attention, it is the sheer unpredictable nature of life. I mean, we see it every day from weather changes to sudden switches in the most carefully laid plans to even human behavior. But somehow still never understood how much things can suddenly change until we had to redefine everything we once knew normal to be. Unconventional occupations and practices didn’t seem so unconventional anymore; they fit right in perfectly with the times. 

Companies and establishments saw a huge shortage of relevant workforce and labor. Don’t get me wrong, all labor is relevant and important (big fan of dignity in labor) but not all of them could function effectively in the face of the threat we faced. The concept of working from home and freelancing stopped taking backseats and took the wheel instead.

A revamp of work systems for survival happened, very necessary for a business’s survival. Let me put it in a more fun way, if the threat to the commerce and economic system was Thanos, then freelancers are the Avengers; swooping in to save the day.

A year later, even with things gradually getting back to the same old rhythm, several adjustments have been made to fit in freelancing as a viable alternative in making things easier in sustaining the workforce ecosystem.

Now that associations have a better handle on how to maximize and manage remote workers, it’s a good time to become more adept at adding temporary support to your staffing pattern. Employers, especially more traditional association leaders, may be reluctant to engage freelancers for a variety of reasons. There is the perception that training will be more disruptive than leaving the position open or stretching current talent.¹

Discover the Benefits

  • Freelancing helps to solve the purpose problem: Freelancing is a naturally healthy way to work. You render service and in turn, are paid for that service rendered. There’s a clear connection between what you put in and what you get out. That connection drives purpose. In today’s workforce, many salaried employees have lost their sense of purpose. I think a lot of this comes down to the lack of clarity around how they’re adding value. Freelancers working with your employees can, in a way, push them to strive to be better and even more skilled at what they do. Freelancers can fill skill gaps, provide training, and assist in the planning and carrying out complex projects. They can get motivated by seeing what upgrading skill levels can offer, how much the digital marketplace is becoming increasingly demanding, specialized, and technical. and clean up the “stuck-in-a-loop” mindset that comes with most salaried employment jobs. 
  • Improved Workflow: Augmenting your team with freelancers can take the heat off full-time employees and ensure your staff’s work-life balance remains intact, while also protecting your organization’s culture. Better alignment between employees and employers leads to healthier, more transparent workplaces.
  • Better performance and work processes: Freelancing is a highly referral-based profession. This makes freelancers very determined in ensuring you have the best experience working with them, so they mostly give you their best performance. They are less inclined to have a lax attitude towards work. They want you to use them again and refer them to your friends and colleague. Now plugging such talent into the organization frequently on a task-specific basis means that you also need to up your work processes. For example: if the task takes a week, but it takes a week to onboard (and three months to pay) there’s a big disincentive to using a freelance workforce.²
  • Lower Cost: Freelancers aren’t employees and don’t receive employee benefits from the companies they work with. They are usually hired by the project and are expected to report and withhold their taxes. There’s a bonus economy in space and supplies if freelancers are working remotely.
  • Freelancing will force more organizational agility: Organisations using more freelancers will move faster. They are forced to upgrade and upskill to match the skillset level the freelancer may be bringing to the table. But this cuts both ways – leveraging a talent ‘cloud’ means the organization can scale up faster. But there’s also less cultural infrastructure holding the organization together over the long term. Organizations without great systems and processes can fall apart quickly as well.²

Managing a Freelancer

  • Build Rapport: Foster a relationship with the freelancer you are working with. This helps to open communication lines making the project a more pleasant experience as well as ensuring project success. It also helps the freelancer feel like less of a tool.
  • Be clear about responsibilities and expectations: Context is everything. It gives clarity and insight into what is being said and what needs to be done. It also helps with easily visualizing what you are trying to pass across. Provide background information on why the project is needed and what led to the formation of such an idea. Put goals and expectations down in the written form. This creates a framework for the project which can be built out as you make progress. When reviewing expectations with the freelancer, will help you identify grey areas as well as equip you for future decision-making.
  • Avoid Micromanaging the Talent: While freelancers require managing and regular overseeing, avoid micromanaging their efforts. This will come off as you not trusting that they can handle their tasks and projects. You can offer encouragement and feedback when and where necessary. 
  • Keep Communication Lines Open: Communication is essential to managing a project and building trust between you and your freelancers. To help build a relationship, communicate with your freelancers throughout the project. Create an open line of communication so they can share their progress and discuss ideas, especially if they’re working on a team project. Give and get feedback regularly. Communication can also prevent problems.

Finding the Right Talent

A labor shortage appears to be on the horizon. Yes, the immediate worker shortage is grave, especially in the US. The fact that younger generations have very different professional goals and expectations than senior workers complicates the picture.  Although most organizations consider it a priority to address skill shortages, few understand how to equip themselves with the workforce skills they will need most. Only one-third of respondents say their companies are prepared to cope with the workforce disruptions resulting from technology and market trends.

Freelancing has rapidly evolved into a global occupation choice. In a study conducted by financial services company Payoneer, around 21,000 freelancers from 170 countries around the globe were interviewed. The report shows that Africa holds 10.1% of the world’s freelancers – and could continue to grow.³ The rise of self-employment in Africa today is structural.

The economy of countries on the continent has changed, along with how to create added value to work. WAAW foundation, a non-profit organization recognizes this tremendous growth in the talent pool and workforce and contributes actively to it. Both in empowering as well as utilizing freelancers. WAAW’s mission is to empower girls in Africa by increasing the pipeline of girls educated in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, and to encourage their engagement in technology entrepreneurship and innovation. 

For the projected growth they foresee in this new work era, all organizations need to start strategizing on how they’re going to make the most of the freelance revolution. For larger organizations, I say it’s time to delve into the freelance community and reap the numerous benefits it offers. It is the future of the workforce.

Jonah
jonah@waawfoundation.org
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