Freelancers: it’s a seller’s market! With a not-so-subtle power shift from employer to worker underway, employees are choosing to freelance in record numbers and managers must fill the gap. HR needs creative strategies to attract and retain your talent to address this because presumably, your expectations are different now. You strategically separated from the conveniences of corporate life so you should be picky about your next relationship. 

What does a plum project look like to you? Is it about personal ideals or a building a portfolio of clients? Either way – here are two things to ponder before you sign on:

Love at first sight? What about this partner is attractive to me?

  1. Brand: Is this brand attractive to you?  Do you feel good about the product?
  2. Company values: Do you like the company’s core values, mission, and culture? How does it treat its employees? Does the company give back in some way?
  3. Your role and project scope: Does the employer clearly communicate your prospective role and the scope of the project? It should raise a red flag if it doesn’t. This is especially true for first-time gigs.
  4. Flexibility: Did you choose to forego benefits and security for more control over your life?  Will this employer respect that? Will this gig allow it? 

Is this more than a first date? Will they work at the relationship?

While workforce transformation has raised employee engagement challenges for managers, some haven’t considered their freelance talent in this conversation. Keeping everyone engaged is a must if employers want to attract and retain the best. Here’s what to look for before you consider another project:

  1. Onboarding efforts: Did they offer onboarding and seek feedback on it? While this might seem like a moot point for subsequent projects, it can convey gig-worker appreciation.
  2. Metrics: Were success metrics shared with you at the outset of your last project?  Was this lip-service, or did they apply them?
  3. Communication: How often did your team and manager interact with you? Freelance work can be isolating, and managers should be sensitive to this. Timely interaction matters.
  4. Issue resolution: Did your manager offer specific feedback periodically so minor issues didn’t fester? Were bigger obstacles removed quickly? Some unaddressed issues that can kill a relationship are lack of clarity, invoice payment, poor tools or environment, or supervisor’s behavior. If it happened to you once, it could happen again.
  5. Your specific needs: You probably didn’t go solo just for the money.  Do you also seek other benefits in the relationship such as skill development opportunities, recognition, or inclusion in team events? Don’t be afraid to ask for these. 

While commitment between freelancer and employer can also be about other things when subsequent projects aren’t in the cards (think reciprocating referrals), if you’re after a long-term relationship, identify early if they can deliver what matters to you. If you decide to give them a shot regardless, assess the overall experience before you agree to more than just a casual relationship.

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