Your project is finally greenlighted. You have the budget and a timeline. And you put in a call to your favorite freelancer to get things rolling, only to find out that your A player — the freelancer you KNOW can get the job done — isn’t available. Call it a contingent workforce fail.
So now what?
It’s an all too familiar story for those of us who depend on contingent workers to deliver on our project commitments. We do our best to plan ahead and find great freelancers who understand our business and who consistently deliver high quality.
But project planning by its nature has an element of uncertainty to it. We never quite know when that project approval will arrive. And these days, we can’t always count on talent being available when we need it. Top-notch freelancers aren’t sitting around waiting on our call. They are in demand and have other clients.
And unfortunately, when those top freelancers are unavailable we rarely have a plan B to turn to. So you end up scrambling to backfill the role/job, calling around, posting to Linkedin, or (gasp!) settling for a freelancer you know isn’t half as good.
You need contingent workers. Do they need you?
According to Gartnerresearch, 32% of surveyed organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. Business spending in the contingent workforce arearose 22.8% year over year. Whether it is by choice or by necessity due to the current labour shortage caused by the Great Resignation, employers now rely on contingent workers to get #4%@ done.
But freelancers are by nature free agents. They get to choose the jobs they take on and the clients they work with. They don’t have to settle and with the volume of demand for their skills rising, they can have the luxury of saying no. To attract and retain top freelance talent and to be the client EVERYONE wants to work for, employers must up their talent management game as it relates to the contingent workforce. This means improving the way you plan for and resource future work and the way you manage your contingent workers.
Most employers of contingent workers will admit to using a mix of tools to manage projects and their freelance resources. There’s the good old management by spreadsheet strategy. But that doesn’t show you who is available, or who is working on what. It’s basically just an inventory of freelancers and their contact information. There are tools like Trello or Slack or Monday which kind of sort of help managers control the flow of work and a freelancer’s relationship to a project and to that manager. Again these are point solutions.
Valuable freelancer data is trapped in silos and spreadsheets
The problem with all of these tools is that this very valuable information is siloed and “owned” at the manager level. There’s zero visibility or sharing between managers. There’s no sharing of freelancer information or ranking of their performance. So for an organization that heavily uses freelancers, information is duplicated over and over again, hoarded and is full of duplication and contradiction.
Take for instance a publisher that has a heavy reliance on freelance writers. Every editor has their own list of freelancers. There are probably duplicate resources on that list as the good writers are likely working for multiple editors and other publishers. With information trapped in individual editor’s spreadsheets or contact databases the organization never is able to fully capitalize on that freelance talent by sharing with that resource a complete pipeline of upcoming work. And if the freelancer has no visibility into that forthcoming work, they go find work elsewhere.
This challenge is even more greatly magnified in industries such as tech agencies who have a heavy dependence on freelance software developers, UX design experts and such. Here, project managers often have to match up freelancers with specific technical skill sets to the work at hand. Lack of visibility into the availability and expertise of talent undermines the business’s ability to take on new client work with confidence, which in turn limits growth. And because demand for technical talent is high, the risk of churn on a project is high. The loss of a freelancer can set a project schedule back by weeks.
A freelance management tool purpose-built for the job
So how can employers improve their project forecasting and resourcing and better manage their valuable freelance resources? It comes down to using the right tool purpose-built for the job that allows you to build a bench of talent that is pre-vetted, monitored for availability and shared across the organization. A freelance management platform such as JobBliss is designed for this purpose. Similar to the way customer relationship management evolved and improved an organization’s visibility into sales activity providing the business with a total roll-up view it’s aggregate sales pipeline, a freelance management system becomes a centralized solution for managing a business’ contingent workforce. Managers can look across the entire organization, find pre-vetted talent to fill their bench and backfill in times of need. They’ll know if the resource is available, and they can engage them in a streamlined way. They can also come together as a team to build a funnel of demand and a forecast of resource need that allows the entire organization to better attract and retain high-quality freelance talent.
Just imagine how the relationship dynamic with a valuable freelancer would change if you could sit down with that individual and with confidence let them know that they are valued by your organization, that there is a steady flow of work coming their way and that they are the first call you’d make when projects are greenlighted.
Just imagine with a clearer picture of your contingent workforce how your organization’s approach to planning, forecasting might change. With a solid bench of vetted performers at your disposal and their availability well understood, you’d likely find yourself taking on more projects or clients with confidence. You never have to resort to costly recruiters to find talent in a pinch.
And because you are organized, can commit to them in the way they commit to you, you earn the loyalty of the very best freelancers in the business. In short, you become the one they all want to work for.
Tips for getting started on building your contingent workforce bench
Get your team on the same page in terms of your freelance management strategy. Bring together your operations lead, your hiring managers, folks who do recruiting or talent resourcing and your finance folk together. Now is the time for everyone to see the benefit of a consolidated view into the contingent workforce and the benefits of building a bench. Time to get rid of fiefdoms and the culture of resource hoarding. This is for the greater good of the organization.
Create a preliminary, consolidated forecast of contingent workforce demand. Take a best guess at the number and nature of projects, the duration of work and the skill sets involved. It won’t be perfect but it will be better than nothing. And know that in time a freelance management system will help aggregate this information so your forecasting will become more accurate.
Build a consolidated inventory of your contingent workforce army. Be prepared to be surprised by the duplication and by the wealth of riches you didn’t even know you had. It may also expose some gaps in skills or talent that you can then resource against.
Share your forecasts with your valued freelancers. Let them know they are valued, that their loyalty to you will be rewarded and that there’s a pipeline of work available and coming their way. You’d be surprised by the trust this builds.
Follow the rule of 10 when building your bench. For example, if you think you’ll need one .net developer this year, go out and build a bench of 10 of all levels.
Maintain a regular dialogue with your top freelancers, giving them insight into the kind of projects you’ll be looking for to keep them in the loop and excited about working with you.
And remember to just touch base to say hi and to let them know that this relationship is important to you. It’s time to start treating your top contingent workers in the same way you treat your internal talent superstars.
Is 2022 your year for building a contingent workforce bench? The good news is, the talent and information you need to make that happen may be hidden right under your nose – trapped away in your manager’s spreadsheets.
Whether it’s the Great Resignation driving workers out of the office or a general awakening amongst employees to follow their bliss, the contingent workforce is growing as freelancing becomes an increasingly attractive option for many. According to recent data by Upwork, 20% of the US population — 10 million people are considering a professional move to freelancing work, and 2 million of those individuals have begun freelancing during the last year.
This shift toward the gig economy (which includes Uber drivers and Etsy sellers but also professional freelancers and fractional executives) was already in play before the global pandemic. However, it has accelerated over the past two years. In the pre-pandemic booming job market, individuals were traditionally attracted to freelancing because of its flexibility and variety. However, over the last year, two million more Americans have entered the contingent workforce out of necessity, as employers shed full-time jobs in response to the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, professionals who are initially forced into remote work have come to appreciate the work-from-home lifestyle. In fact, according to the Upwork survey, 34% of remote workers are not excited about returning to the office. And of the two million who began freelancing this year, 73% cited a reluctance to return to the office as the primary driver.
So what does this mean for businesses who rely on a contingent workforce to get the job done?
On one hand, one would assume more freelancers entering the market would mean supply exceeds demand. But demand is very (VERY) high. Over 90% of companies depend on freelancers and plan to increase their use. According to research conducted by Robert Half and Associates, 38% of surveyed companies said they’re hiring more independent contractors, and 45% said freelancers already make up more than half their workforce. And while the US is still in the lead when it comes to freelancer dependency, other parts of the globe such as India, Latin America and China now have a widening talent gap. Tech talent, such as front-end developers, user-experience and digital marketing experts, and system security managers are in the highest demand, with finance and administrative experts also experiencing strong demand.
It is also true that not everyone who decides to freelance is cut out to be successful as a freelancer. The A-players are still the A-players and they are in heavy demand. A survey of more than 1900 freelancers across 30 countries conducted by the Agile Talent Collaborative in partnership with the University of Toronto found that 60% or more of freelancers have enough or too much work, report satisfying relationships with clients, say they’ll meet their financial goals, and remain committed to freelancing. So it’s not just a matter of employers choosing freelancers and contingent workers. Freelancers — especially those with successful track records, years of experience and unique talent — are choosing YOU.
So how does the employer/contingent worker dynamic have to change to adapt to an economic shift where businesses are more dependent than ever on high-value contractors? It boils down to a few things. First, the employer mindset needs to change from a transactional form of engagement toward a relationship built on mutual value and respect. Second, employers need to adopt a longer-term view and build a contingent workforce talent bench. And finally, in lockstep, the systems and processes for managing non-full-time talent need to evolve to align with this new way of work
It’s about talent, not transactions
While the contingent worker marketplace has undergone swift and dramatic change in the last year or so, the way employers engage and manage freelancers is still built on an old-school, archaic full-time job business model.
Freelancers and their services are either regarded as a transactional commodity by their employers (I need something from you, I get it and you leave), or, freelancers are basically owned body and soul. They are incorporated so completely into the company that they are as close to a full-time employee as it gets.
Right now, it seems to be one or the other. But just as the nature of work has evolved quickly into a hybrid model, the employer/contingent worker relationship also needs to evolve in a more hybrid way.
First and foremost, employers need to recognize, value and manage external contingent workforce talent in the same way they recognize, value and manage internal talent. In short, if you want high-quality external expertise, you’ve got to pay their rates. Now, the prices freelancers demand for their services sometimes give employers sticker shock. However, what people need to understand is that professional freelancers bring knowledge and speed and industry insights to your team that you just don’t have in your full-times. According to a report by Talent Alpha, more than 67% of enterprises believe they are challenged with an acute shortage of qualified applicants with requisite skills. And close to 60% of enterprises state that the existing workforce lacks technical skills, given the pace of technology change. Contributing factors include rising attrition rates, lack of internal project readiness and a fast-changing skills landscape.
But the shift in this mindset has to come top down. Organizations need to budget for it. They need to recognize that their full-time people are doing a full-time job and that if they want them to have fresh insights they need to have a library of talent to turn to. So the perception of the contingent workforce needs to change. A contingent workforce doesn’t exist just to deal with a problem that might be in front of you, but create a lasting support system that is available on-demand and gets better the more you access it. This is where unfortunately a lot of the losses lie for employers. From invoicing disputes and constantly onboarding people and using students because they’re cheaper (but take five times longer to do the job and need constant babysitting), businesses who take a short-sighted transactional approach to their contingent workforce end up losing more than they gain.
Build a contingent workforce talent bench
In my conversations with clients, I’ve asked them “Have you ever thought about building a bench, where if you need one writer, or developer, or finance pro you line up ten? And everyone on the bench is a true pro – very capable, very experienced.
Employers need to come to terms with the fact that great people with experience and talent are hot commodities. And they are not always going to be available. So if you are treating that freelancer as if they are a full-time employee (“I love this person, that’s the only person that I ever want around), you may soon find yourself in a lurch. However this type of bench-strength business model can’t be enabled unless everybody in the company from operations to the people who are getting the job done, to the freelancers themselves, agree on the way they want to engage, value and manage talent that lies outside the four walls of the business. The approach needs to be consistent.
Systems and processes for managing contingent workers need to evolve
If we’re going to create a new model where everybody — talent from inside and outside the organization — is working together with the same goal, then we’re going to need to adapt to new technologies. Because right now, due to the archaic way we manage our contingent workforce (manual methods and cobbled together antiquated tools such as Excel, Jira, Trello, Confluence) your time and resources are being wasted and your money is bleeding out.
I originally started JobBliss because I saw this pain first hand and I wanted to help freelancers. I wanted to remove the recruiter fees from freelancers and help them get more work and just connect them with prospective clients. And that seemed like a great idea at the time. But the more I spoke to the market, the more I realized that the REALLY big problem is that companies don’t know how to work with or manage their contingent workforce. So we have to solve that problem first before we get freelancers connected to more companies. We need to make it easier for people to find the right talent with the right skills at the right time so we eliminate the horsetrading that currently happens. We need to organize that working relationship better so everyone — freelancer included — knows the status of work, where there’s excess capacity and availability and has a sight line into the future. This will allow the business to grow proactively versus reacting and scrambling. It will give contractors more confidence in their client relationship. And we’ll be able to use real metrics to track performance and activity and forecast the future with confidence.
When the ebb and flow on the organization side and the ebb and flow on the contractor side actually meet up and are in sync, that’s where explosive ideas and innovation and shit gets done and done beautifully. I’ve seen it when it works and when it doesn’t. Our ambition at JobBliss is to see that happen as the rule versus the exception.
Interested in hearing how JobBliss can help you get off of spreadsheet management and better manage your growing contingent workforce? Let’s chat or try JobBliss for free.
Did you know that every one in ten workers is a freelance contractor? As the demand for such services increases, more people are now changing their working terms to improve flexibility.
Due to the limited availability of some talents, your company may need to hire freelance contractors for some projects. But, without suitable contractor management methods, it may be hard to get the right talent.
Lacking proper systems to help you oversee their work can also make it difficult to identify the ones to keep.
With efficient freelance management methods, you can improve the future of work and oversee external talent. You can also create ways to make them feel more included in the company. Here, we discuss five steps that will guide you in managing your freelance workers.
1. Consolidate Your Database
If you want to have better methods for managing freelancers, it is advisable to consolidate your database of external talent.
An ideal way to do this is by using cloud-based contractor management systems. Using these, you will have better control of your workforce.
By uploading all details about the talents in your organization, you can quickly find the right ones for specific projects. Tools such as marketplaces will also simplify selecting the right freelancers to add to particular teams.
Another benefit of combining your list of freelancers is that it improves visibility. With digital programs such as JobBliss, you can create a searchable database. Here, add various details about all your available external talents. Such include work history, contact information, and performance.
Having this data in an accessible platform will make hiring contractors and managing freelancers simple. If you need to add talent to your current project, all you have to do is search for the skills required in the database.
2. Improve Freelance Management by Being Inclusive
Have you ever hired a freelancer and wondered how you could retain them in your company? Well, the best way to do this is by providing your external talents with a good work environment.
First, ensure that the processes you have in place keep them connected with your internal workers. For example, use communication methods that allow them to feel more included. With these, they can collaborate with internal employees on different projects.
Besides, they can share ideas on how to serve clients better and provide quality services. Another way to make your freelance talent feel like part of the company is by encouraging open communication. You can do this using different tools and platforms with messaging and chat features.
You can also adopt project management programs with collaborative tools. Such will make it possible for all employees in the team to work towards common goals. They will also give you and your managers better ideas on how to manage freelance workers.
By making your contractors feel more included, you can improve the rate at which you retain them. In the long run, you will have more reliable talent and avoid skills shortages.
3. Streamline Your Contractor Management Methods
Streamlining your contractor management methods will help you improve productivity. Work with your team to create better ways to have visibility over your freelancers. You can do this by first checking if the current methods are effective and determining if anything needs improving.
With this information, you may go ahead to discuss how to manage contractors better. One method you can consider for better control is centralizing your contract information. Having a tool that provides all details about your external talents will improve efficiency.
Team leaders can easily use the database to identify the talents that would grow their department. They will also be able to communicate better with both internal and external workers.
Streamlining contractor management with your entire team will then improve cohesion in different units of the company.
Share a detailed database of the freelancers you have worked with over a certain period with various internal workers. These include your managers, recruiters, team leaders, and department heads. After that, schedule a meeting where you can identify the contractors that are good for the business.
Having such discussions with your staff will help them pick the resources that can benefit their teams. They can also strategize on how to include these talents in their departments in the long run.
While identifying the best freelancers may take time, it is a crucial step to improving the future of work. Other than that, having reliable talents on standby will help you save time and resources in many ways. For example, you can quickly contact them when you have pending projects.
Besides, the onboarding process will be easier since they understand the goals and culture of your company. You will also build strong business relationships and enjoy many benefits from them in the future.
5. Improve Visibility
Lacking enough visibility over your freelance contractors makes it hard to manage them. An ideal way to have a better idea of what is going on in your company is by identifying inefficiencies.
Do your communication methods allow everyone in the company to understand the role of your freelance talents? Does your management method help you get total visibility into resource activity?
If your answer to these questions is no, it may be time to adopt ways to give you better insights into various processes. For example, inform your internal talents of all existing freelance employees and their roles. Moreover, help your team leaders track how contractors work using management software.
You can also improve project execution by encouraging transparency about the use of allocated budgets. Another way to boost visibility in management is by using different tools to monitor the timelines specific freelancers use to complete their work.
Improve Contractor Management With JobBliss
Using practical freelance management steps can improve productivity in your company. At JobBliss, we provide tools to help you enhance the future of work by having a database of your contractors. Using our software, you can quickly identify the right talent for a particular project.
You can also build reliable teams by tracking how each freelancer works and picking the ones to keep. Contact us today to understand more ways we can help you improve contractor management.
Did you know that 91% of millennials don’t plan on staying in one job for over two years? This has led to a dynamic job market conducive to freelancers and contractors.
Thanks to the evolution of employment in recent years, the future of work is uncertain for most business owners. Hiring Freelancers and retaining your workforce is entirely different today. The increasing popularity of a contingent workforce and flexible working conditions have changed how companies hire and retain top talent.
Finding and retaining top talents in your company also requires a massive evolution in your recruiting process. Business owners also need to change their attitude towards freelance management.
So how will you retain your top contractor and freelance talents? Read below tips to find out.
Review Your Working Conditions
Hiring and retaining the best freelancer starts with you. How easy is it to work with your company? Today, freelancers will not work for companies that make their job hard.
Most freelancers’ contracts only last for several months, with a choice of renewal if both parties agree. Every time the contract ends, the freelancer or contractor will evaluate their priorities and reassess their relationship with your business. If they’re not willing to work with you anymore, they will not renew their contract.
This leaves you with a gap that will likely take a lot of time and money to fill. Additionally, some freelancers will not offer you their real reasons for leaving your company. You may also notice that they are always fully booked when you approach them for more work.
Before hiring freelancers and contractors, it’s advisable to start by reviewing your company culture. Focus more on devising a culture of inclusiveness and engagement and check up on your freelancers from time to time. The time of employees withstanding poor treatment and toxic working environments is over.
Sadly, most businesses don’t appreciate or respect freelancers because they are not permanent employees. However, if you’re not professional and respectful in all your dealings with your freelancers, they are more likely to leave.
It’s essential to maintain a professional working relationship with all your freelancers. This will ensure that all parties have a positive experience throughout the project duration. Lack of professionalism may result in a negative experience and a loss of workforce.
Ensure you share the right documents, including the work agreement and contract, on time. This helps eliminate doubts on payment terms and the scope of work expected. Ensure you also clearly communicate with the freelancers about their targets and goals to avoid future disappointments.
Provide the Resources Needed for the Job
A common trend among employers today is failing to provide freelancers with the resources they need. Most employers expect that freelancers come with the resources they need for the job. This is a mistake that will negatively impact your business in the long run.
If you have a permanent employee, you will provide them with the software, devices, and tools to effectively do their job. Why should freelancers be any different?
Are you wondering how to retain freelancers? You can start by providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs.
Providing your contractors and freelancers with adequate resources will improve their productivity. It will also ensure they meet their targets. If you don’t offer your freelancers the right tools for the job, they are more likely to do a substandard job.
Evaluate Your Recruitment Process
Freelance management and recruitment are slightly different from hiring full-time employees. Freelance managing is also different from permanent employee managing. When hiring freelancers, you should look at their skills to see if they fit remote working conditions.
Unfortunately, most recruiters are used to hiring employees who can fit in their specific working environment. However, today the recruitment process involves recognizing dependable freelancers and assessing their skills. Below are essential skills every freelancer should have:
Hard skills such as editing, writing, accounting, and bookkeeping
Today, freelancing is becoming a widely accepted career choice. Additionally, businesses are also accepting these dynamic changes. By 2019, over 35% of the U.S. workforce consisted of freelancers. This number is only getting bigger thanks to the COVID19 pandemic.
Fair Pay and on Time
According to a Freelancer’s Union report, 70% of freelancers have had difficulty getting paid at least once throughout their careers. This has contributed to an average loss of $6,000 per freelancer annually. Most businesses hire freelancers then fail to pay them for their work.
This is extremely unfair because the freelancer dedicates their time and resources to work. Sometimes, this happens because of unclear payment terms.
To avoid such a situation, ensure you have a formal contract. The contract should clearly state the payment and work engagement terms.
After drafting the contract, share it with your contractor and ensure they sign it. Make sure you also communicate with your freelancers and contractors about their pay. After the freelancer completes their job, ensure you pay them as per the contract.
If freelancers are not paid fairly, and on time, they are less likely to renew their contracts. This leaves you going through the recruitment process again, wasting essential company resources.
Now You Know What You Need When Hiring Freelancers
Hiring freelancers and contractors may seem new and intimidating for most business owners. However, the benefits of remote work are undeniable. You will get access to top talents in the industry and save money on the recruiting process. You will also enjoy an outstanding level of flexibility when working with freelancers.
If you’re wondering how to retain contractors, check out JobBliss for contractor management resources. JobBliss will connect your business to the right freelance talents in the market.
Our primary goal is to help businesses seamlessly connect with their remote workforce. Contact us today for the best remote workforce management resources.
About 59 million Americans worked freelance in 2020, contributing a stunning $1.2 trillion to the US economy. It’s a statistic that shows just how strong the freelance industry continues to be, amid a global recession spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freelancers are an essential part of today’s business world. 70 percent of small businesses have already used freelancers in the past, and 81 percent plan to hire more freelancers in the future. If you’re one of these businesses, then no doubt you’ll want an efficient system for outsourcing work to freelancers and managing them.
That’s where freelance management systems come in. These tools are specifically meant to support freelance hires.
In this comprehensive guide, we tell you all you need to know about freelance management systems and why they can help take your company to the next level.
Read on to learn more.
What Is a Freelance Management System?
A freelance management system refers to a platform for managing all the operational, legal, and finance components of working with freelance hires. These platforms help businesses reduce the paperwork associated with managing freelance teams and enhance productivity.
Freelance managers like Jobbliss can instantly simplify every process. This way, you get to dive into your work faster and achieve more impressive outcomes.
Without these tools, it would be difficult to manage an increasing number of your contingent workforce, including your freelancers, gig workers, and consultants. It’s an incredibly complex responsibility that requires lots of time.
Benefits of Freelance Management Systems
Entrepreneurs at a loss on how to manage freelancers can benefit from the right freelancers. Here are six ways how these tools can help you.
You Get To Stay Compliant
When you work with freelancers, it’s essential that you meet compliance standards. Failure to do so puts your company at risk of financial and reputational damage.
Top freelance management systems come with built-in workflows that help you monitor and track compliance. This way, you keep the risk of potential hefty penalties at bay.
These Tools Boost Productivity
As your need for more freelancers grows, engaging with them becomes more complex. You have more contracts to deal with, a greater budget to handle, and more right-to-work checks with which to contend. It truly can be a time-consuming affair.
A freelance management system takes care of all this, ensuring that all normal processes are handled without the need for additional excel spreadsheets. Freelance managers centralize functions to remove complexity while eliminating human error.
And with the automation of crucial tasks, these tools transform the way you do business and boost productivity.
Budget Management Becomes Easier
The right freelance management system helps you see where you’re currently spending money. The software helps you ensure that your budget is aligned with your business goals.
With a freelance manager, you minimize the risk of exceeding or going under budget. The system can also help you decide whether to extend a freelancer’s contract or let them go, based on their performance and what they bring to your business.
With these tools, you can also audit your suppliers comprehensively. Such audits may even help you see new avenues for saving money.
One of the surest tips on how to improve your business is to engage the right candidates for the job. But freelancer hiring can be a messy and complicated process. Often, there are many hurdles you need to overcome to find top talent.
Freelance management systems can help overcome this challenge. The right software can bring together all your direct contacts and recruitment network in one place. With a centralized pool of talent from multiple sources, it’s easier to the best choose freelancers.
You Get To Streamline Your Onboarding Processes
Identifying the right talent is just one part of the job. You still need to onboard them to ensure that every hire is equipped to do the best job for your company.
During the onboarding process, keep your organization protected by only sharing the right information at the right time. Additionally, you should only grant the right levels of access to your hires.
A reliable freelance management system helps centralize the entire onboarding process. This way, all freelances go through consistent onboarding and offboarding stages. That also means that every freelance you engage goes through the appropriate compliance and security steps.
The Right Freelance Management System Can Transform Your Business
As more Americans opt to work as freelancers, businesses are increasingly tapping into this talent. And for those companies who already have such a workforce, investing in the right freelance management systems makes clear business sense. Not only do these systems simplify your work and ensure compliance, but they also help you get the most out of your team.
Are you interested in a freelance manager you can count on for the best results? Please, contact us today and learn how we can help.