It’s estimated that by the year 2020, independent contractors and freelance workers will make up 40 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
That means more than 60 million people will offer their skills and services — from IT projects to employee recruitment to graphic design — to help organizations get more work done without the cost burden of adding full-time workers.
As this evolution of the American workforce takes place, how will it impact how organizations function? How will your organization tap into the skilled freelance workforce without getting burned?
Here are three tips to keep in mind as you launch into the world of using an independent workforce.
1) Do Your Due Diligence: If you’ve used independent contractors in the past, you know the road can get bumpy. Like hiring a full-time employee, your organization must do its homework to identify the right freelancer for the job at hand. Check references, review referrals provided by the contractor and look for potential shortcomings so you avoid problems.
Thanks to new online work marketplaces, you can identify freelancers and see how other businesses rank their capabilities. It’s a great way to ensure you’re engaging with someone who has both the skillset and drive to serve you.
2) Engage and Communicate: Communication problems are the number one cause of any failed relationship. Even the most seasoned independent contractor is only as good as the information and direction they are given. That means the onus is on you to stay engaged with your freelancers throughout each project.
Talk with your freelancers as you bring them on board. Ask and understand how they like to receive information. Establish a form of communication that works for them and your organization (beginning or end-of-day status calls, progress updates via text messages or weekly written reports). Whatever the format, it must work for both parties.
3) Respect Contractors and They’ll Work Even Harder for You: In my years as both an employee and as a business owner, one practice rings true: Honesty creates employee loyalty. When you deal with employees in good faith, they will trust you and work harder for you. It’s that simple. And the same goes for the independent contractors you hire.
Don’t consume more time from your contractor than needed. When you waste a freelancers’ time, be it by inviting them to attend meetings unrelated to a project or asking them to revise detailed project reports again and again, you’re eating up your own project dollars and their ability to do meaningful work. Independent contractors work by the project or by the hour. It’s their time that’s on the line and they prefer to make the most of it.
Organizations can and should engage with the new American workforce. It’s a workforce that is skilled and capable — and one that will offer new insights into completing work effectively and efficiently.
This article was originally published online by The Business Journals and was written by Mynul Khan, founder and CEO of Field Nation.