Many Businesses Overlook Onboarding for Freelancers

We’ve been hearing about the tight labor market for some time now. With unemployment at historic lows, we’ve talked a lot about how hard it can be for companies to attract and retain top talent—it’s a seller’s market when it comes to labor.


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Growth of the Gig Economy

As a result, many employers have cranked up the salary dial and started offering generous benefits and flexible working schedules, which can be expensive. But another option is to take advantage of the growth of the gig economy, as some industries, particularly tech, are especially interested in freelancers.

According to Federal Reserve stats, almost a third of adults are working in some form of freelance work. Michael Burdick, CEO of Paro, says that many of these freelancers are selling their services directly to businesses, acting as sort of quasi-employees (tax status and employment law issues aside).

Don’t Skimp on Freelancer Onboarding

While freelancers can bring a great deal of industrywide experience and knowledge to the table, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to be onboarded. “Unfortunately, working with freelancers isn’t always straightforward,” says Burdick. “Some business owners expect freelancers to jump in and fix their problems immediately, but they fail to provide the context, information and documentation necessary to facilitate such improvements.”

In other words, expecting freelancers to be able to dive right in ignores one of the two primary aspects of new employee development. This early development should be thought of as a combination of onboarding and training—we hope that employees bring some education, knowledge, and experience to the table, but there may be skills they need to be taught throughout their careers.

Businesses expecting to do much less onboarding and training—if any—with freelancers is an oversight that should be corrected. Onboarding is company-specific and, therefore, should involve educating both employees and freelancers on the company’s business, goals, needs, and culture.

In a follow-up post, we’ll discuss some key steps in the freelancer onboarding process.

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