Bringing contractors and freelancers on board might seem straightforward: after all, unlike regular employees, they’re not necessarily going to be working with you for a long period, and they may well be working off-site. They won’t have a benefits package or a 401(k) plan that you need to unravel.
However, you still need a clear hiring procedure, or you’ll end up wasting a lot of time (and potentially make costly mistakes).
By streamlining your hiring process as much as possible, you can bring on contractors and freelancers smoothly and easily.
Here are four key things for your focus:
Hiring the Right Person
You may not have any say in the hiring decision, but if you do, you’ll obviously want to make sure you’re getting the right person for the job. Even if the freelancer is only going to be working with your company for a few days, it’s still important to get the right personl You don’t want to have to rehire someone else to do the work over again.
You might not ask for references for freelancers and contractors, or even a full resume, but it’s definitely a good idea to:
- Ask to see samples of their previous work. If you’re not able to assess how good it is, you might ask to talk to previous clients so you can ask them what they thought of the freelancer.
- Hire them on a trial basis, with a review after a short period of time. This may end up costing some time and money if you’ve hired the wrong person, but at least it gives you the chance to course-correct early.
Creating Standard Documents to Use Again and Again
As well as having a job offer letter and standard contract that you can use when working with freelancers and contractors, you may want to create other standard documents that you can use again and again.
For instance, it might be helpful to give freelancers instructions on how to invoice the company when you first hire them, so you don’t need to do lots of back and forth explaining who to invoice, what reference number to include, etc.
Where appropriate, you should of course also use documentation that protects your company. You might well need freelancers to sign an NDA and you’ll also need to ensure that their work will legally belong to you once you’ve paid them for it.
You may also want to give freelancers a code of conduct, especially if they’ll potentially be coming into contact with your clients.
Having a Checklist to Run Through When Hiring
When you’re bringing a new freelancer or contractor on board, there’ll be things you want to check about. For instance, you’ll want to:
- Confirm their rate and how they charge (e.g. they might bill the company per hour, or they might quote upfront for the whole project).
- Confirm the hours the freelancer/contractor will work, or confirm key project milestones if they’ll be managing their own time as they see fit. You might need to check with the manager or team who’s hiring the freelancer/contractor, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Ideally, if your security system allows it, create a badge for them that will give them access to the areas they’ll need. (If you’re working with a freelancer who’ll only be occasionally on-site, this may not be necessary.)
- Show them around the office, making sure you’ve pointed out all the essentials: where the bathrooms are, where the kitchen is, where their desk or workspace is, etc.
- Ensure that the freelancer/contractor has what they need to do their job. This might mean facilitating a meeting between them and key members of the team so that they can easily ask questions.
- Run through the basics of your company’s culture (e.g. “we’re very relaxed and most people wear jeans and T-shirts in the office” or “we’re a dog-friendly workplace”).
Don’t simply assume that the person you’re hiring will have things covered, either. For instance, if you have contractors working on-site, you’ll want to ensure they have appropriate insurance.
Keeping Other People in the Loop
Depending on how the hiring decision has been made, some people who’ll be working with the freelance or contractor may not even be aware of them.
It’s awkward for existing employees (and for the person you’ve hired) if the freelancer turns up one day and the person at the desk next to them has no idea who they are or why they’re there.
Make sure you send around an email, a day or two before the freelancer starts work with you, to explain who they are, what they’ll be doing, and how long they’ll be staying.
If you’re hiring a contractor or a team who’ll be working on-site for some time (e.g. if they’re going to be redecorating an office or engaging in building work), again, keep everyone in the loop about what’s going on. Temporary construction noise, for instance, will be more bearable if people know it’s only going to last a couple of days!
Again, templates can save you a lot of time here! You could have a standard email that you send out when a new freelancer comes on board, introducing the person by name, and explaining who they’ll be working with and what their role is.
Contractors and freelancers are likely to be a vital part of your business, whether that’s for short but intense periods or an on ongoing basis.
Make sure you follow these best practices, and you’ll have a streamlined hiring process that ensures everything runs smoothly and everyone works well together.