The gig economy is exploding with growth. It seems the COVID-19 pandemic was enough to push this transition to contract work as a more common feature of job markets across nations. Throughout 2020 alone, gig economy wages and participation grew by 33%.
Statistics like this one illustrate that contract work is a valuable endeavor for many — workers and businesses alike. But managing contract workers might seem daunting or even foolhardy for those who have never done it before.
Fortunately, managing contract workers is not unlike managing remote workers. Both can be simple and beneficial for managers that follow a series of best practices. These are some tips for effectively managing contract workers for a post-pandemic economy.
Set Clear Expectations
First and foremost, managers should start contractor relationships with clarity, honesty, and transparency. This means being thorough in the ways you learn about and communicate with gig workers. You’ll need to understand what the contract work market is even about before you can go about setting clear expectations with your prospective colleagues.
All this starts with education. To successfully manage contract workers, you’ll need to learn your legal rights and obligations before anything else. For instance, intellectual property laws are necessary for all business owners to understand because they will dictate how you communicate with contractors about the ownership of the work they do for you. Lay down a baseline for clear expectations by learning business laws and standards.
Then, build job postings, interviews, and benefits all with clarity and honesty in terms of what the contract worker can expect. You’ll have a hard time getting the work you need from a contractor if they thought they would be completing entirely different tasks while on the job. A job description for a technical writer when you actually want a content writer will affect worker compensation expectations and could seriously undermine the quality of the outcome.
One of the best ways you can go about setting clearer expectations is to better understand contract worker motivators.
Understand Their Motivators
Just as freelancers benefit businesses in a variety of ways, freelance work is highly beneficial to many of those that choose such work. That’s because a contract worker is technically self-employed, a status that can come with all kinds of advantages. These include:
- Flexibility — Contract workers typically set or negotiate their own schedules, giving them room for flexibility.
- Independence — Contract workers are technically their own bosses, meaning micromanaging will not work here.
- Options — Contract workers choose projects rather than jobs, giving them greater freedom to pursue exciting challenges and opportunities for growth.
By understanding the appeal of contract work, you can better manage these workers with an approach that maximizes the benefits of freelancing while ensuring productivity. Understanding motivators means improving the win-win element inherent in contract work. Businesses get expertise on individual project types while contract workers come away with the kind of experience and referrals they’ll need to build a better business.
Be open with your contractors. Ask them about career goals and expectations for their time with you. Then partner with them in achieving their professional goals. This will help you cultivate positive relationships with gig workers while incentivizing quality work from freelancers.
Maintain High Communication Standards
Then, it’s in your best interest to maintain high communication standards at all times. This means going beyond just setting clear expectations. Instead, ensure that all your communication efforts will be effective and trustworthy. The digital age offers us the means to streamline communication at every turn, so take advantage of its applications.
Managing contract workers successfully depends on your ability to set and maintain high communication standards for all your internal and external relationships. This includes professional language as well as easy-to-follow guidelines and procedures. If there is any information a contractor needs access to, they should be able to retrieve that information from documentation or a manager capable of communicating effectively.
Fortunately, cloud data services and the Internet of Things (IoT) make it easier than ever to maintain high communication standards. By securing networks, collating data, and communicating essential information in real-time, these technologies are changing the way we network with contract and staff workers.
Find the best tech and interpersonal communication tools for your management strategy and maximize the potential of your contract workers. However, that won’t be possible without great feedback on your part.
Give Great Feedback
Feedback is the bread and butter of contract workers. That’s because client estimations of their work dictate the kinds of opportunities freelancers will have access to in the future. From testimonials to case studies, contract workers need your feedback to build trust-winning portfolios that can help them find future projects.
Your ability to give feedback that is both constructive and empathetic can make all the difference in your ability to manage contract workers. Focus on what went right first, then address any issues with honesty and tact. These are just a few tips for giving great feedback that any reasonable contract worker can appreciate:
- Be specific by using direct examples.
- Use team purpose or company values to align expectations.
- Be brief, fair, and honest.
These tips can help make all exchanges with contract workers more beneficial to both of you because they will be able to take that feedback and apply it directly towards their goals. After all, freelancers aren’t expected to be around long-term. Get to the point and show them you value their time. Great feedback is a motivator all its own, and applying it can help make managing contract workers better for all involved.
Managing Contractors Effectively
Managing contract workers is increasingly a must for managers in the post-pandemic landscape. Amidst all this change, these tips can help you make the most out of these strategic partnerships and maximize business potential. Start by setting clear expectations, then improve your communication and feedback standards across your operations.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor