Everybody get happy! Be engaged! If only it were as simple as putting up a giant poster or sending out an email reminding people to feel appreciated and invested. But it isn’t. Employee engagement initiatives are the norm today. It also pays off to work to engage freelancers and contractors. This article will share the benefits and how to keep your “giggers” giddy about working for you, too.
Employee engagement is fundamental to business success. Defined by CustomInsight as “the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work,” employee engagement ultimately tracks how motivated and involved people are at work.
Organizations with high employee engagement tend to:
- Outperform the competition
- Recover more quickly from setbacks
- Innovate more effectively
- Enjoy better decision-making
- Retain top performers
- Recruit top talent
So, of course, anyone who wants a successful organization is keen to encourage employee engagement. Yet freelancers and contractors can be left out of these efforts. They may be overlooked as they are not immersed in the full-time company culture. Still, making an effort to engage freelancers and contractors can have big benefits as well.
Why freelancer and contractor engagement matters
The year 2021 was labeled “The Great Resignation.” Theories abound about why. But one thing we do know is that the trend is continuing. In November 2021, an all-time monthly high of 4.5 million people handed in their notice, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in January 2022.
That said, work still needs to get done. It’s just that more people want to do it on a freelance or contract basis. By 2028, it is predicted that gig workers will make up more than 50 percent of the US workforce. Your business needs to make sure those workers are motivated and devoted to your organization, too.
Freelancers can provide high-quality work and cost savings while cutting company risk. You also enjoy ready access to talent and experience, increased flexibility, and expanded diversity. Having independent worker support also has the advantage of countering employee burnout.
When you find a great freelancer, you don’t want to let them go. If you have made an effort to engage them while on a project or contract with you, they’re more likely to take another job with you when the opportunity arises again. Engagement strategies can help motivate these part-timers and contract workers, too.
Tip: Want to know how to succeed as a freelancer/contractor? We already covered that in this series!
Of course, how you engage freelancers and contractors is going to be dependent on your industry and the way you work. Still, these strategies can help you reach out to these workers and make a connection that helps enhance their engagement with your business.
Get to know your freelancers and contractors
Forging a relationships with independent workers will help them feel part of the team. By taking the time to learn a little about their personal interests and career objectives, you can find ways to connect them more to the work they’re doing. This helps them feel intrinsically motivated to do great work, not just extrinsically motivated to earn that paycheck.
Pursue best practices for best results
By making a habit of treating your freelancers or contractors well, you’ll get their best work. You’ll also make a stronger connection with these individuals who, though not full-time, still gain knowledge of your product and procedures and can make a real impact for your business.
Top strategies include:
- Establish outcomes and deliverables
- Give them autonomy
- Trust in their expertise
- Be there as support — not as a manager
- Take feedback and disputes seriously
- Pay up and sign off on good terms
Maximize their skills by sharing the big picture
We have a different perspective on a one-off project and a task that is contributing to a larger whole. A freelancer or contractor can feel isolated when working remotely and without direct interaction with the team. When they have only a narrow view of a project, they are unable to contribute to greater success.
Offering them different tasks on a project and giving them a big-picture sense of the goals helps them to feel trusted. They will be happier to make contributions you might not have anticipated otherwise. Plus, their overall morale goes up.
Acknowledge their efforts
Communicate to the independent worker, and to your in-house team, the ways in which the freelancers’ contributions are making a difference. Recognizing their great work in a team meeting is an effective way to show respect and appreciation.
We’re biased, of course, but what better way is there to understand how things are going with current freelancers? Or to gauge how recent contractors feel about their experiences working with your people? It’s easy to ask for feedback with our employee engagement survey tool.
Employee engagement and freelancers
The good news? A report by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute found that “independent workers are highly engaged and satisfied, and more engaged with their clients than employees are with their organizations.” So, you may not have to work as hard to build the camaraderie that can boost productivity and contributions to your business. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the value of working to engage your freelancers and contract workers.