Article written by Jessie Peters
Onboarding employees isn’t easy. But throw in different state codes, time zones, and internet connectivity issues into the mix, and things get even more complex.
Hiring freelancers is becoming very popular. One in three Americans are now in the freelance economy and a large part of this statistic is made up of millennials1.
In a study cited by USA Today2, 74% of millennials preferred freelancing rather than full-time work. Onboarding this digital savvy generation to contractual work will be crucial for companies looking to attract the best talent.
Onboarding is the first step in creating good workplace relationships. Research has supported that onboarding has a dramatic effect on performance, employee engagement, organizational commitment, and retention. Here are some important tips on how you should onboard freelancers:
To onboard or not
Onboarding is crucial even if you’re a small business without a HR department. Even for temporary, contract, or gig workers, Fast Company highlights that choosing not to onboard is dangerous for businesses3. It can affect employees’ productivity, working relationships, and how they view your company’s long-term goals.
At the end of the first briefing, your freelance employee should have understood your company culture, values, and vision.
Freelancers are in a unique position in a company. They are expected to deliver specialized outputs in tune with the company’s needs while working independently. Onboarding is your chance to close any gaps in expectations between you and independent freelancers.
Be as specific as possible. Let them know their exact role in your company. What are the scopes and limitations of their responsibilities? By answering this question, you can cultivate accountability and inspire confidence in your temporary employees, even if they prefer to do the work remotely. Setting clear expectations beforehand also shows that you’re a responsible employer – one that they’d be willing to work for full-time should the need arise.
Communication is key
Getting them in tune with the company also entails making sure that communication lines are clear. Employers should have skills in strategic communication. This is especially crucial for managing workers who are outside your physical purview. Maryville University highlights how the skills to translate communication into actionable strategies are crucial for organizations4. You must ensure that they’re added in all pertinent administrative and project management systems, and that they know their way around such systems with minimal to zero supervision.
Despite their temporary status, freelancers should always be in the loop regarding the goals, deadlines, and milestones of the project in which they’re involved. This way, the team is always attuned with one another, despite being miles or time zones apart.
Be upfront about security
Workers who do their job remotely can be a security nightmare, especially for companies with proprietary technologies. Make sure you include security concerns and processes in your onboarding/briefing session.
Researchers from the University of Bonn found that freelancers rarely use secure password storage even when working with patented technologies5. Do the necessary prep work in placing security protocols and explaining them to your freelancers. This will help you avoid unnecessary sticky situations in the future.
Studies have shown that having open and regular feedback mechanisms helps in raising job satisfaction and productivity. Entrepreneur suggests that you show contract workers they belong to the squad by giving feedback6. When they turn in their outputs, give specific, fair, and actionable criticisms. This way, they can respond with high-quality work.
Onboarding shouldn’t feel like the last meeting they will attend in your company. Ending with a hopeful tone after briefing sessions can improve your employees’ morale and productivity.
Freelancers are very valuable assets to companies. And onboarding them like every other new hire will certainly benefit your partnership in the long run.
This blog article is written by a third party and does not necessarily represent EPIC’s viewpoint.
Looking for more on employing freelancers? Read our article on the advantages and disadvantages of employing freelancers.
Small business owner? Check out our smart onboarding tips for the small business owner.
Thinking about hiring a contractor? Learn how to legally use independent contractors in your business.