According to a recent poll, 1 in 5 American jobs are held by a contract or freelance worker. In just 10 short years, independent contractors could make up half of the workforce. The trend toward this type of work is expected to affect all industries and professional levels. That means onboarding your freelance staff is just as necessary as training new employees.
Yet, according to a national survey of HR leaders, only 54 percent of companies offer formal onboarding for freelance workers. Even less (45 percent) provide training. Onboarding and training for temporary workers is necessary to maintain your company’s reputation. It also helps streamline internal processes.
These tips, plus new hire swag ideas, can help you get freelance employees the training and onboarding they need to succeed.
- Make connections: Introduce new freelancers to your entire team. In-person introductions are great, but when if that’s not possible, video chat applications like Skype®, Facetime® or Google+ Hangouts® are also effective. Introducing you new employees to the team opens up the lines of communication, creating a culture that fosters collaboration. It also helps immerse new team members in the company’s culture. Be sure to give freelancers contact info and each employee’s preferred method of communication. A training giveaway, like a logoed journal and pen, allows new hires to jot down important information.
- Teach about culture and brand: Your external brand and internal culture are what define your organization. Freelancers don’t have the benefit of soaking up company culture through osmosis. Help them learn the important nuances by providing a survival kit. Include informational materials like brand guidelines and your company’s mission and vision statement. Your kit can also give employees an inside look at the company’s culture. If the team enjoys a good cup of coffee, for example, put a mug in your survival kit. If you’re a silly group that lives for a good laugh, toss in a goofy pen.
- Provide examples: Give new hires access to needed files and internal documents as well as project or campaign samples. Outline any software, system or application requirements and provide training if needed. This should include everything from VPN or project management software to company email and communication applications.
- Give feedback: Regular feedback is just as important for freelancers as it is for your full-time staff. Constructive criticism encourages learning and improvement. When a freelancer submits a project or design, let them know where they excel and where they could improve. Consider holding regular check-ins to discuss their performance and growth. During these sessions, be sure to ask for their feedback. After all, your relationship is a partnership.
- Discuss offboarding: Freelance work is, by nature, temporary. Be upfront about your needs as well as a strategy for transitioning work back in-house once the need for contract work is over. When that happens, take the opportunity to gain valuable feedback by conducting an exit interview. And don’t forget to thank your freelancer for their work with a small parting gift. A company logoed laptop bag or power bank are nice ways to show gratitude.
Complete onboarding (coupled with training swag ideas) will have your freelance employees up and running in no time. By introducing them to the team, immersing them in your culture, providing training and communicating your exit strategy, your new workers (and your company) are sure to find success.