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What’s The ROI On Freelancers?

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AVP of Talent at FedEx Employees Credit Association , overseeing talent management, development and succession planning. Getty In a recent article supporting full-time employees over freelancers, I argued that full-time employees bring a greater ROI for companies. My position on that emerged from my experience in industries where employers are replacing full-time employees with freelancers to save money on benefits, often in parallel with oversaturated job markets where people will take any job they can get to try to get ahead. A friend of mine, Kevin Tankersley, who is a freelancer himself, reached out in disagreement with my “expert advice.” Our conversation got me thinking about what I had missed — and on second thought, freelancers have a lot to offer. Customization Hiring freelancers, or independent contractors, equips companies to offer a wider array of products and services than they could otherwise afford. Just like consumers can afford a wider array of entertainment through streaming than through cable or buying titles, companies can essentially customize their catalog through freelancers in ways they could not do through their permanent personnel. This can make all the difference in responding to evolving consumer demands. And in cases where an ethics violation has tarnished customer confidence, independent contractors bring essential accountability to help companies recover and restore relationships with their customers. As third parties, freelancers can help companies perform, mature and thrive. Cost Savings Hiring a freelancer is a form of cost-sharing between organizations. Most organizations need a PR expert at some point, but most can’t afford to have PR on staff permanently. Even if the freelancer costs more per hour than an employee, companies can ultimately save money in the long run compared to inflated staff costs and certainly compared to the potential liabilities of someone inexperienced making a costly mistake. Quality Control Companies can also evaluate the quality of a freelancer’s work from project to project, giving them more options for quality control than with a regular employee. By examining their past work, talking to past clients and studying their work over time, companies can decide if the freelancer is the right fit for them, and if they aren’t satisfied with the result, they aren’t locked into an employment relationship. In my expert advice, I wrongly stated that freelancers don’t care about your organization’s well-being. What I should have said is that good freelancers are invested in your organization’s well-being because they know it ultimately serves you both. Delivering the work as agreed and on time supports healthy relationships between parties. If you are happy with their work, you are likely to hire them again. Their success depends on your success, and this mutual dependence drives strong performance for both parties. Clear Expectations Whereas a number of regulations govern the relationship between employer and employee, freelancers offer a more flexible arena for communicating expectations. The contract should outline a clear statement of the project and its stipulations, communication expectations and a timeline for completion. Typically, freelance contracts also give both parties […]

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