Contingent labor is here to stay in the United States. Freelance work has been expanding in size and necessity over the past five years; an early 2016 report by Forbes suggests by 2020, freelancers will make up nearly 50 percent of the American workforce.
With this comes a problem for companies: what role does culture or community have here? Does a labor market, defined by individuality, have a need for a connection to their coworkers, bosses, or brand? Is it even worth the company’s effort?
The short answer: if done correctly, yes — because it is actually profitable.
Using It The Right Way
Finding The Value
Freelancers are not mercenaries — they’re people with morals, goals, and values, who want to use their skills to create work they care about. It’s part of why they’re in the contingent labor sector. If a company demonstrates a proficiency in their partnerships with on-demand workers, the brand will be rewarded with positive regard in their industry and freelance community alike.
If the company’s sense of community and culture is potent, the brand has authority. Freelancers want to work for a company they know they can trust, just like companies desire reliable contractors. Word of mouth and reputation are still a company’s most valuable currency other than dollars.
This is where the value lies: a strong community creates a dependent, passionate, continued workforce in a capricious sector.
The Right Kind Of Community
In the contingent labor market, a community needs to have a tangible benefit to both parties involved. A workforce bond is a waste of time if it cannot be used to benefit the end production. If a company is going to utilize a freelance user base, they need to prioritize one aspect above all: access.
It starts with communication. Timely, professional, and distinct correspondence is crucial to showcasing either party’s values. Extending the access available to a freelancer can develop a reliance and demand for your company’s community. This means providing resources other than a one-off trade of money for projects.
For example, imagine a company hired five contractors to work on specific aspects of a project. One for server administration, one for security policies, another for operation reports, and so on. Does it benefit the company, the contractors, or most importantly the end product, to be a mass of individual, specialized parts?
The project will come in faster, cheaper, and better when all parties have access to each other. This is the community’s value.
The demand for a company’s community can be further raised by allowing contractor access across projects. Intra-team communications is nearly obvious, but inter-team access gives a company an advantage over their competitors on the hiring market.
How To Make It Happen
With a contingent labor workforce, companies need to explicitly exercise and maintain their brand more than ever. Fulfilling this duty requires a heavier hand in the hiring process. Companies need to be picky to find the kinds of workers that fulfill their needs beyond the project.
A prospective hire can check all the specialized boxes, but if they don’t exhibit the company’s values, the hire becomes less valuable as it negatively impacts the brand’s community. If they truly care about creating a lasting and profitable network, a company’s interview questions should reflect that. Are they asking if the hire can get the job done, or if they care about the project? It’s the same question, but one sets a standard.
Control The Brand
Every person hired needs to be introduced and educated in the brand’s philosophy. More importantly, the company has the be strong in their convictions. A company that does not own their philosophy cannot establish a credible culture.
The most critical component of controlling a culture is its reinforcement. Countless businesses have a page on their site depicting their creed, but to what level is the dogma detectable in results? This should already be standard practice with traditional employees, but such rigorous enforcement often slides out of focus when dealing with hires whose email address is more familiar than face, but it is equally as necessary to grow a stronger brand presence among the contingent labor workforce.
Providing a contractor specific examples, consistent critique, and relentless dedication to the philosophy are what take a turn a company’s Values tab on the website into their Ten Commandments.
Value The Person
If there is not a transparent and reciprocal sentiment of worth between the employer and the employee, everything suffers. Caring about their employees should be in every company’s philosophy, and this must extend to freelance hires.
This starts with reinforcement. Any behavior or work put forth that exceeds the expectations of the company should be specifically noted and rewarded with praise. A freelancer’s value on the market is tied directly to their client’s satisfaction, and it affects their ability to get future work. Publicizing how vital they are to the project, individually and to the rest of the team, validates their effort and trickles down through the community.
The best reward possible is more growth. This can take the form of either paying the freelancer a higher wage than their competitors, or by inviting them back for repeat work later on. Despite the industry’s fickle nature, freelancers love consistent opportunities and paychecks. If a company can establish that they provide excellent resources, pay well, and have consistent work, their clout in the contingent labor field skyrockets.
Create The Demand
Community and culture are not dying alongside the traditional workforce; they’re evolving. Their role is the same as it has always been; a better connection among workers leads to better work, and a more successful company.
But how it is established and augmented are what companies must develop. In a traditional workforce, a culture may begin as a lofty ambition and end as a casual friday schedule, and it changes because it isn’t essential to producing a product; it’s just an additive. Workers are salaried, their continued work is not in question at the end of every week.
In the contingent workforce economy, community isn’t a garnish, it’s what gives the freelance worker a reason to come back and stay passionate. Without a community, companies might not have a workforce at all.
Use The Right Platform
Community building does not have to be daunting. Techadox’s coordinated service allows companies to have their community while preserving hours and resources for other projects. Coordinated service makes creating assignments, curating pools of technicians, tracking tasks, managing contracts and providing support easier by taking it off the company’s to-do list.
Contact us today to connect with the network of field service technicians you need that will represent your business the way you need them to.