Freelance Workers Have a Need for Independence…But You Can Retain Them?

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by BrightMove Applicant Tracking Software and Traci Kingery

Freelance and contract workers have become all the rage with reductions in force and mandatory budget cuts in companies across the nation. With employers escaping health insurance obligations, vacation pay, and other full-time benefits, freelance workers may require a higher wage, but are only on the books for the duration of a project or task. This is absolutely fine with the contract employees too, they prefer it that way.

Freelance employers were found to be happier than they ever were in full-time roles according to webzine Talent Management.  Citing a recent survey from freelance employment website Elance, freelance workers find their jobs through digital networking. “92 percent of freelance workers turn to online job listing and 76 percent rely on personal connections and networking to find jobs”. Elance VP of Platform and Customer Operations, Jon Diller, stated that “the market is advancing beyond the traditional model of sluggish hiring through recruiters and unverified resumes and is seeking out the flexibility, speed and real-time nature of hiring and working online.”

Having schedule flexibility was the number one motivator of freelancers surveyed with 72 percent saying it’s what they like best. Diller recognizes that though contract work is without the advantages of traditional job benefits, the freedom to manage their own schedule and work outweighs full-time employment. Elance shows that 61 percent are among those happier now as freelancers than when they were actual employees.

Talent Management writer Natalie Morera understands the possible challenges management may face when dealing with these workers that are outside of company control. She suggests a few tips to retain these talented minds:

The employer must remain just as engaged. Employers must be just as engaged with their remote contractors as they would be if they were working together in the same room, Diller said. “That means clients should be as specific as possible when defining the job or project, be responsive to questions and requests for feedback, and continuously stay in sync by keeping track of the progress of the project,” he said.

Employers need to utilize social media. Diller said employers need to include the remote team in meetings and can use video-conferencing and screen-sharing to “facilitate a team atmosphere so everyone stays engaged and on-task.”

“While these contractors may not be on site or even in sight, they’re still very much a part of the team,” Diller said. For the 39 percent that are not happier as freelancers, perhaps the right steps toward motivating them could turn them into your future full-time employees.

Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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