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As the US economy continues to adapt to changing conditions, the self-employed are more valuable to businesses than ever before. Freelancers offer businesses many benefits. They give you access to the skills or talents you need, and you only need to pay whatever fee is negotiated. A freelancer handles a lot of the messy HR work and payment matters that you would normally have to deal with with an employee. It gives you greater flexibility, and freelancers work remotely, which is an added benefit for those still worried about Covid-19.
But despite these benefits, companies often complain about the self-employed, saying that the freelancer they hired did a negligent job and turned out to be a waste of time. While bad freelancers certainly exist, remember that the poor worker blames his tools and the freelancer is the manager’s tool. If you can manage your freelancers well, you will get valuable workers who can make a big difference to your organization. Here are some tips to get the most out of it.
know what you want
Why does your organization need self-employed?
This may seem like an obvious question, but many organizations don’t seem to know the answer. They give freelancers tasks that are vague and open-ended and do not clearly state what is needed. As a result, organizations often hire unqualified freelancers or pieceworkers end up being unsure of what they are supposed to do. This is especially so because the self-employed do not have the cultural knowledge that accumulates in any business and therefore do not know how things are done in your organization. The New York Times notes that vague job descriptions cause unqualified candidates to advance or stray from qualified candidates, and this also applies to the self-employed.
Before hiring a freelancer, identify the specific tasks you’ll need to do, rather than clerical, administrative, or some other vague category. List these tasks when you come up with a vacancy. When deciding who the independent person to choose next, ask specific questions that show if they can do the job.
Related: 5 Tips for Finding and Managing the Right Freelancer
Do on the plane correctly
Setting up a freelance employee varies, and is sometimes more difficult than hiring a new employee. Like a new employee, freelancers lack cultural knowledge and the specifics about how your organization operates. But unlike a new employee, the self-employed are often expected to contribute immediately because they are not seen as a long-term investment.
It is critical to ensure that everyone is on the same page. So it’s a good idea to start with a Zoom meeting that takes place once a week, if not two weeks. An in-person meeting is best if logistically possible. Furthermore, if this is your first time hiring freelance translators, ask them what information they might need and who they might want to contact. You can then gather this information for the freelancer, then have it ready in a form for future freelance hires.
Setting up freelancers and new hires is primarily about ongoing communication. Send them video meetings and emails regularly to make sure work is going well and that there are no sudden surprises.
Related Topics: How To: Manage Self-Employed Effectively
Don’t get involved in the finer details
Freelance translators are primarily freelancers because they want greater autonomy and independence, and they often work for organizations other than your own. While it is important to communicate with freelancers, this should not turn into a detailed management.
I mentioned above that you should regularly contact freelancers once every week or two. More than that is exaggerated. You have to put the processes in place so you don’t feel the need to check in with the freelancer every day (and I’ve seen some clients check in every hour). Above all else, set boundaries for you and them. While freelancers often work in erratic schedules, don’t email them at odd hours of the day unless they expect such communications from you.
Looking forward to contact
The self-employed is often seen as a purely transactional matter. The organization asks for work, the freelancer does the work and that’s it. But while freelancers value their independence, they often want to feel as if they are part of a team and not treated as second-class citizens.
Make sure to give freelancers as many perks and little treats as you would for a regular employee. Include them in your email lists, tell them what’s going on in your company and don’t try to draw huge differences between freelancers and regular employees. One potential risk is that you don’t want to violate any labor law by paying them or treating them in exactly the same way as employees. But remember that everyone is part of the same team. It’s okay to pick freelancers for praise or rewards.
Pay them well
You can include freelancers in your email lists and invite them to company lunches. But they will not feel like they are being treated well if they are underpaid or if the payment is not handled properly. All too often, organizations think they can pay freelancers at ridiculously harsh rates, sometimes as little as a few dollars an hour. The result is that the organization gets exactly what it paid for in the form of shoddy work.
Remember that most freelancers are not completely independent but have contacts and networks that help connect them to other jobs. An unsatisfied and underpaid freelancer may abuse your organization after the job is done, making it difficult to hire freelance translators in the future. When you have a job in mind, look around and see what similar organizations pay for similar work and don’t try to pay less.
Learn from your mistakes
The above tips are essential for dealing with freelancers, but that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid mistakes entirely. Sometimes you just hire the wrong person, or the nature of what you want to make drastic changes or some other unexpected event happen.
In this case, the two most important things to do is to limit any damage that may be caused by the error and to make sure that the same error does not happen again. If a bug caused it, admit it and find out what can be done. Consider having a meeting with other freelancers and ask them how the problem or error can be avoided in the future. The Muse notes that admitting mistakes is one of the best ways to get customers to like you, and this also applies to your own and self-employed.
Remember that freelancers are workers just like everyone else. They want recognition, regular communication, and effective management. Effective management does not mean picking out every detail, it means giving freelancers the freedom and also the structure to work at their best. Follow these steps, use the right tools, and you can turn your self-employed from cheap inferiors into valuable parts of your organization.
Related: 7 Tips for Efficiently Managing Self-Employed Persons in a Post-COVID-19 World