A record 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March in the United States alone, and the jobless-to-jobs ratio hit an all-time high.
While the “great resignation” will eventually run its course, the shifts in attitude wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely permanent. One is the freedom for people to work when and for whom they want.
Upwork reported that 59 million Americans — or 36% of the total workforce — were self-employed in 2020, an increase of two million people from 2019.
Bringing in contract help can be an attractive option for resource-strapped businesses, but the vetting and onboarding process for freelancers and full-time workers can be quite different.
PeopleCaddie and Upwork are platforms specializing in matching entrepreneurs with employers in need. I asked PeopleCaddie CTO Tim Rowley and Upwork’s VP of Talent Solutions Margaret Lilani what advice they had for companies getting into the freelance talent pool. Here are 10 tips they offered.
Get everyone on board
Not everyone in your organization is likely to be in favor of hiring contractors, so anticipate some resistance and prepare your case.
“Dig and say there’s a skills or productivity gap and we need to fill it with the best person possible,” Lilani said. “Set expectations upfront.”
Ambiguity or hostility at work will torpedo your efforts.
Write a clear job description
One might think that “walking on water” is a reference for reading certain job offers.
Applicants should know exactly what is expected of them and how success will be measured – the more specific the description, the better.
Carefully inform colleagues
People’s natural reaction to a new face appearing in the office for a few hours a week is distrust. Whose work is taken away from?
“Resolve any issues early and set expectations so everyone knows what’s expected of them before a new person joins,” Lilani said.
Screen for specific skills
One of the reasons to hire contractors in the first place is to realize immediate productivity gains.
“The person has to be solid, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time training,” Rowley said. “Be sure to select the exact skills you want.”
Respect the expertise of the contractor
“It’s not just unemployed people looking for a salary. In many cases, they are experts in their field,” Lilani said. “Many have a long career and have chosen to be independent. Think of them as consultants who bring value to your organization. »
Respect the promised workload
If you tell a contractor to expect 10 hours of work per week, you are bound to deliver.
Failure to do so “is a huge blow to the entrepreneur,” Rowley said, and one of the main reasons engagements end prematurely.
Longer engagements are better than short ones
Job security is one of the main causes of anxiety among entrepreneurs.
That’s why “contract length is extremely important,” Rowley said. “A shorter mission will be less attractive to strong entrepreneurs than a long one. Below about three months, interest wanes.
Make milestones and measures clear
“If you don’t set expectations that both sides can agree on early on, things will fall apart early,” Lilani said. Measures of success must be quantifiable, clear and consistent.
build a bench
Going back to the well every time you need temporary help is exhausting. Entrepreneurs value long-term relationships as much as employers.
“Have a virtual talent bank, so when you’re in trouble, you can go to your trusted team, whether it’s once a week or once a year,” Lilani said. “It’s about building trust up front.” Rowley added: “Have 10 candidates in case you need two.”
Make special considerations for remote work
Contractors should use the same platforms you use for tasks such as collaboration, video conferencing, and document sharing.
When providing this technology, pay particular attention to access privileges and cybersecurity, especially if the person may also work for competitors.
A personal note on using hours as a measure of performance: it’s a practice I’ve always hated because it penalizes productive people, but, in many cases, there are no good alternatives. .
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for them, though.
A better approach is to pay for results, whether it’s hitting a milestone, delivering a PowerPoint, or completing a project on time and under budget.
Even if you have to pay by the hour, consider offering bonuses for work that goes above and beyond. Then everyone will be happier.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.