Here’s Why Freelancers Should Be an Engagement Priority
The almost universal drive for a more flexible working culture and the ever-pervasive nature of technology have already changed the way we work, so it’s no surprise that the growing trend for freelancers is showing no signs of slowing.
It’s important to remember that every person who sets foot in a business has the capacity not only to leave a mark, but to take a piece of it with them. That’s why, according to Lucy Maber, Engagement Consultant at Brandpie, any freelancer should be an engagement and experience priority.
Recent studies suggest that if the trend for freelance workers continues at its current rate, 50.9% of the US population will be freelance by 2027. A short eight years away. Closer to home in the UK, the number of freelancers increased by 43% between 2008 and 2016.
Friends in (all the) high places. Thinking about networks and reputation.
Freelancers have historically plugged a hiring hole, parachuted in to fulfil an operational need. We often see a cursory nod towards an end-to-end engagement plan – that is creating an all-singing, all-dancing experience for a new hire from first contact through to exit interview. But very rarely is the same detailed approach taken for a freelancer.
Even rarer is the issue of reputational risk a major driver for engagement. Being mindful of reputation risk is simply recognising that a business’s reputation precedes them, and it holds sway. We exist in an age where peer review is far more valuable and engaging than corporate communications. Formal business reviews on the likes of Glassdoor are important. But so are anecdotal ones. Consider what you would want freelancers to say about you to their personal networks (very likely to also be freelancers looking for peer recommendations of good places to work) because they often rely on their network to build a sustainable and meaningful pipeline of work.
Your most powerful recruitment campaign could be in at the hands of the very people who are overlooked when creating the employee experience. Could what they say about you affect someone else’s decision to work with you in the future?
Developing a Freelance Value Proposition
Some of the most extraordinary talent in any industry is freelance and critical skillsets are increasingly (but not exclusively) transferable across industries. Competition for talent is no longer limited to direct competitors. It’s worth mapping out who else is vying for a freelancer’s time and skills and figuring out what your unique value proposition is – what can you offer to a freelancer that your competitors can’t? How can you start to demonstrate both in the experience and through engagement how valuable they are to your business.
Another layer of complexity is that a freelancer might traditionally have been seen as augmenting the talent that already exists internally. Very much a temporary (and sometimes desperate but much needed) solution to a resourcing problem or a skills gap. But as freelancers begin to tip into being the ‘norm’, they’re not merely playing second fiddle to the rest of the organisation. And they likely know it.
If we think that the freelance workforce holds as much power and influence over the business’ success as full-time employees, how would that change the dynamic of your Employer Value Proposition? Do you need to think more purposefully about introducing a Freelance Value Proposition?