A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office show that 40 percent of U.S. workers now have contingent job, “contingent jobs” here meaning all manner of flexible work, such as temp workers, on-call workers, contractor workers, independent contractors, part-timers, and the self-employed.
The makeup of the workforce and talent market is changing, becoming more flexible and contingent. Employers need to start building specific talent management strategies to deal with this new talent world if they want to be able to maximize the productivity of their workforces.
Employers need to understand exactly what drives and engages contingent workers — and then they need to begin giving these workers what they want. One of the simplest ways to do this is to hold a focus group with your contingent worker. If you work with a bigger company, conduct a contingent worker engagement survey. You can then build a sympathetic and engaging contingent-talent strategy using your findings.
If you can’t, for whatever reason, hold a focus group or conduct a survey, I’d like to offer this outline of some of the common motivators of contingent workers. Hopefully, this will help you understand what these workers want, giving you the ability to more effectively engage them and make them fall in love with your business.
1. Contingent Workers Want to Be Paid on Time
One of the quickest ways to frustrate your freelance or contingent workers is to pay their invoices late. They will still work hard for you, because they want to get paid, but if the opportunity arises, they are likely to desert you for clients who pay on time.
Paying invoices on time is a great way to inspire loyalty in your freelancers. If you garner a reputation for speedy payments — within days or even hours of being invoiced — then freelance will likely prioritize you above other clients.
2. Contingent Workers Don’t Want to Be Treated as ‘Disposable’ Workers
You may not be offering contingent workers security in the sense of full-time, permanent work, but that doesn’t mean you should offer them no security at all.
A great way to inspire loyalty and commitment is to provide contingent and freelance workers with repeat work, if possible. Doing so will help you form long-term partnerships with a trusted cohort of quality freelancers. The promise and reality of repeat work is a powerful incentive for a freelancer, and many will reduce their rates in return for repeat work.
Offering and supplying repeat work builds trust between freelancers and employers, and it can lead to stronger relationships between employers and their contingent workers. If you want to attract the best talent, look to develop a reliable bank of select freelancers whom you call on regularly.
3. Contingent Workers Want to Be Paid the Going Rates
As with full-time employees, so too with contingent workers: the best way to attract and retain freelancers is to pay the going rate.
Sure, you may be lucky enough to get a freelancer at a lower-than-market rate, but chances are they may be working with other clients at higher rates. This means that, when push comes to shove, you’ll be lower on their list. They’ll most likely prioritize higher-paying clients over you, jeopardizing your own projects.
Being one of the freelancer’s premium, higher-paying clients inspires loyalty and commitment in the freelancer, so don’t skimp on payments.
4. They Want to Work With ‘Good’ Clients
In a nutshell, bad clients pay below market rates, are unreliable, offer uninteresting work, and provide limited job security. If you fall into this category, you will find it hard to attract — let alone retain — quality freelance talent.
To be seen as a good, valued client for which a freelancer will really go above and beyond, you need to score as highly as you can in these four areas: market rate; reliable payment; interesting work; and repeat work. Offering these things is the best way to build trust, loyalty, and commitment in freelancers.
Contingent workers are not like your full-time employees. They’re free to drop you whenever they’d like to. There’s plenty of competition out their vying for their talents. Understand what your contingent workers want, or you might just lose some of your best workers to companies that treat them right.