Today, more and more marketing companies and digital advertising firms are working with freelance employees. That’s right, freelancers are employees just like your full or part-time staff—only better because freelancers are beneficial to the bottom line. Yet finding good freelancers is no easy feat so once a business does, it ought to place a premium on these time and cost-effective workers by following these six simple steps to treat freelancers fairly.
1) Make freelancers part of the team
Just because freelancers are usually out of site doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. Include them on the company list of employees or masthead. If there’s a company function, extend an invitation to the freelancer. Or, more important, if there’s a job opening which fits the freelancer’s skills, offer the position to the freelancer first, before looking outside for someone who isn’t familiar with the company.
2) Be respectful of freelancers’ time
It may not seem like a big deal to call and cancel a meeting but this actually costs a freelancer. Unlike salaried employees who are sometimes paid to wait around, time is money to freelancers, who must clear their schedules to accommodate and re-accommodate rescheduled meetings. It’s also important to be considerate of their time when providing instructions on a project. Make sure the directions are clear and concise. Don’t make freelancers read through pages and pages of notes when only a few lines may pertain to them. Yet don’t skimp on essential information which may result in the freelancer spending more of their own time trying to decipher or supplement the instructions.
3) Offer freelancers security
Long-term contracts and retainers are often used when companies hire freelancers for ongoing work that seldom varies from month to month. This lets freelancers know how much they will earn for six months to a year so they can budget accordingly. In return, the freelancer will often be on call with the company who has contracted them. But if work is not contracted and inconsistent or if promised projects fall through, freelancers must look elsewhere to fill the gap and consequently spread their time and services between different companies. Because it behooves a business to have the freelancer’s undivided attention, it makes sense to provide a steady flow of work and compensation to freelancers.
4) Don’t cheap out
Just because the digital age has flooded the market with aspiring freelancers who will work for near nothing, doesn’t mean hiring them is a good deal. Often these workers have little to no experience and their novice efforts can wind up costing a company its reputation as well as money since their work often needs to be redone. There’s a reason for the term, “you get what you pay for,” so pay for someone who knows what they’re doing.
5) Pay a fair rate
Here’s a simple equation: if a freelancer and in-house staffer both make $25 an hour and work the same amount of hours, their earnings are equal, right? Wrong. An employer can pay up to 200% more per hour for in-house staff because there are additional hidden costs for salaried employees, from basic overhead (utilities, hardware, software and more) to benefits (vacation, sick days, insurance and other perks that may include everything from education to morale-boosting events).
Unlike an in-house staffer, freelancers don’t receive these extras. They must pay for their own expenses as well as taxes. To even things out, a freelancer’s hourly rate needs to be much more than an in-house employee’s. Otherwise freelancers will find they are working for less than minimum wage, which no respectable business should encourage or condone. Besides, even at a seemingly higher rate, freelancers still save companies money because they are not always on the clock unlike salaried employees who are paid even during downtime.
6) Reward loyalty
If your company is fortunate enough to have found freelancers who have been in service for more than a year, count your lucky stars—and consider acknowledging their competence and loyalty in some way. Depending on the situation, you could reward a freelancer with a full-time position, more freelance assignments, or a compensation package equal to what a full-time employee would receive if business is slow. An annual bonus or even a small gift card would show you notice their efforts. The point is, you don’t want to diminish the freelancers’ contributions since these unsung workers are often going without so the company can go on.