Hiring freelancers is an efficient and cost-effective way to make up for any skill or manpower deficiencies in your company. What’s more, the contractual nature of hiring freelancers affords you the flexibility you need to stay operational and remain profitable even during off-peak seasons. These make freelancers an indispensable resource for all businesses, especially in the case of SMEs and startups.
While freelancers often look for new projects to work on, you can still find it challenging to retain the ones you’ve come to depend on the most, or those who have proven themselves to be top performers in their field of work. This is because freelancers are always on the lookout for better clients and more lucrative assignments. Additionally, today’s gig economy has become so competitive that when great companies find freelancers whose skills are well above industry standards, these employers put out all the stops just to make sure these people remain loyal to them.
To make sure that you don’t get left behind by the competition—or by your freelancers for that matter—we present you with this short list of tips for retaining your best freelance workers. Hopefully, these will help you maintain your professional relationships with some of the people who provide so much value to your business.
Always pay on time
One of the biggest turn-offs for any freelancer is a client who frequently forgets to pay on time. Freelancers, unlike regular employees, do not have the luxury of receiving a paycheck twice a month. Their income is usually irregular, with dry periods every now and then. As such, delayed payments can become an extreme source of stress for many of them, especially those who are just starting in their freelancing journey, or those who are supporting a large family.
That said, if you want to keep your best freelancers, make it a point to pay promptly and in full every time. Freelancers will always choose to stick with a client whom they can depend on for timely payments, rather than a high-paying but unreliable one.
Treat them as part of your regular workforce, not as an outsider
Freelancers are more than aware of their “outsider” nature in your company, especially when compared to your in-house employees. As such, it’ll be to your benefit to make sure that they feel like a natural part of your company rather than just an external resource that you can exploit only when you need to.
Doing this will certainly help in making them feel more valued, as well as in encouraging them to collaborate more closely with your in-house workforce.
Reward them with some of the same perks you offer your permanent employees
Another way to keep your best freelancers around is to give them some of the same benefits that you give your permanent employees. One great example would be to shoulder the cost of some of the tools they need for work, such as their laptop computer or a specialized peripheral that they can use to get your projects done. These perks, although relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, can go a long way towards endearing them to you and securing their loyalty.
Give them interesting and exciting assignments
Always assume that your freelancers have a large pool of clients that they can choose to work with at any time. This goes double for freelancers that have proven themselves consistent when it comes to delivering high-quality output.
You should make sure to consistently provide them challenging but worthwhile work that also plays to their interest and expertise. You can also just give them the freedom to pick and choose their assignments whenever possible.
Praise them for a job well done
Don’t neglect to praise your freelancers for a job well done whenever they meet or surpass your expectations. This lets them know without a doubt that you’re truly happy with their work, something that may not come across well enough with just a brief acknowledgment of receipt email.
Such feedback will then motivate them to do even better and stick with you for the long term, since they’re now aware that they have what it takes to satisfy your needs reliably.
Keep yourself accessible at all times
Finally, always make sure that your freelancer can reach out to you any time. This will ensure that they’ll get all the help and assistance they need, especially for long-drawn-out projects that require a lot of your input.
It’s easy to think of freelancers as disposable. After all, unlike with regular employees, it’s easier for a business to cut ties with their freelancers. However, if you’ve found a particularly reliable and talented freelancer and you want to stick around for as long as possible, you’d better shape up and learn what it takes to win their loyalty.
For starters, you can take the above-mentioned tips into consideration. Remember, a freelancer isn’t just after a high-paying employer, they’re also after one that’s easy and pleasant to work with, and one that can help them achieve their professional goals.