If there’s one thing working with freelancers and hiring full-timers have in common, it’s the need for implementing a strong onboarding program. Sure, you’re excited to get things started as soon as you’ve found the right freelancer. But just because you’re doing away with the traditional route of hiring doesn’t mean you should skip this all-important process.
Onboarding is a crucial step not only in building a strong working relationship but also in ensuring quality performance, engagement, and commitment. If you’re interested in learning about how you can effectively onboard freelancers then you’ve come to the right place. In today’s blog, we’ll be listing down 7 tips for a smooth onboarding process. Let’s get started.
Onboarding refers to the process of integrating a person into your company and helping them get familiarized with various aspects of your business. This includes not only your products, services, mission, and vision but also the overall culture of your company.
Having a smooth onboarding process is just as critical, if not more so, for when you’re hiring full-timers as when you’re bringing freelancers into the fold.
You can’t just expect a freelancer to jump in and fix your problems immediately. You need to facilitate their understanding of your needs as a client and the importance of their role as a service provider in reaching your goals.
Proper onboarding gives freelancers context on your goals and objectives as a company. This helps them submit work that aligns with the vision you’ve established for your brand.
A smooth onboarding process also helps set clear expectations both for you and the freelancer. It helps put things like deliverables, timeframe, budget, and communication front and center. It helps take away the guesswork from your collaborative efforts.
Another benefit of implementing a robust onboarding process is it prevents misinformation. Onboarding is a two-way street. Just as you can introduce your company to a freelancer, he or she can ask questions and learn about your business processes. It eliminates misunderstandings that might occur down the road.
Furthermore, an onboarding process helps improve freelancer engagement. Chances are you’ll be working with a freelancer who’s miles away from you, maybe even in a different time zone. Freelancers don’t have the same benefit that full-timers get who come in the office every day in terms of experiencing workplace culture firsthand.
A smooth onboarding process bridges this gap. By introducing them to the company and giving them a clear understanding of how their work feeds into the bigger picture, they can become more productive and more efficient.
Onboarding is also critical for retaining the right talent. Some companies hire freelancers on a temporary or seasonal basis. Once the work is done, each party can move on. Sometimes, however, you’ll find a freelancer who just gels with your vision and who satisfies your expectations. Chances are you’d want them to stay for an extended period or hire them next time. When freelancers are properly onboarded, they’re more likely to stay and work with you.
An effective onboarding system provides freelancers with the resources they need to work efficiently and effectively. Here are 6 useful tips for successfully onboarding new talent:
Since freelancers tend to be external contributors, they’re most likely not yet familiar with your business objectives. Sure, they may have done out of their way to do a little research about your brand but it’s up to you to educate them on the nuances of your business.
So the first part of the onboarding process should be introducing them to your business. Let them know about what your company sells, who your target audience is, what your business goals are, and how you want to achieve them.
If you have welcome packets, FAQ sheets, and brand videos, then by all means use them. These pieces of onboarding content can help freelancers understand your workplace culture. It also puts them in a similar mindset that you have which makes collaboration easier and more effective.
It’s always a good idea to introduce a freelancer to full-timers in your company especially if they’ll be working together repeatedly. Set up a brief call to help get everyone acquainted and to explain each individual’s role in your pipeline.
This also gives you the chance to explain why your company needs to hire a freelancer. It also helps you discuss how regular members of your business should collaborate with them to get the most desirable outcome for your projects.
This helps freelancers feel more involved and motivated as it lets them know you didn’t just hire them to finish a task but because they have something valuable to contribute to your business.
Chances are you have a set of preferred tools and platforms that help you get things done every day. From project management and time tracking platforms to, CMS tools, to instant messaging apps, it’s important to help freelancers get comfortable with every piece of technology that the company uses.
If they have never used any of your tools or if they need to brush up on their skills, then teach them. You can hop on a video conference and screen share call to walk them through your preferred tools. Alternatively, you can prepare a video tutorial in advance and share it with the freelancer as part of their onboarding packet.
If you’ll be working with a freelancer for creative projects then you need to make sure that their style matches yours. This is where a style guide comes in handy. It should include everything and anything that can answer creative questions that might pop up in the future.
The guide ensures that your branding stays consistent regardless of whether the person creating a particular piece of content is a full-timer or a freelancer. It serves as a go-to resource that can help reduce the likelihood of unnecessary design revisions and alterations down the line.
Depending on your branding, your style guide may include grammar standards, copy patterns, voice and tone guidelines, content types, a word list, and a blacklist, font faces, logos, color palettes, and more.
Apart from your style guide, it’s also important to share a portfolio of your most successful content with freelancers especially if they’ll be working on the creative side of your business.
Having a collection of standout content can help a freelancer understand the kind of output you expect from them. Explain to the freelancer why these particular pieces work for your brand. This way, when you ask them to create new material they’ll have a point of reference.
One of the biggest challenges of working with freelancers is communication or the lack thereof. Since they’ll most likely be miles away, you can’t just pop in their cubicle or call them for a quick meeting in the conference room.
If you intend to hire remote freelancers then you need a clear cut set of communication rules at your disposal. Some best practices for communicating with freelancers include:
Choosing the right platforms. Internally, there’s a wide array of tools you use to communicate with full-timers from email, chat, to video conferencing. You can use these tools to get in touch with freelancers too. Just make sure they have the right access and logins especially if you’re using something like Slack or GSuite.
Remember that each medium you use should serve a unique purpose. Email, for example, is better suited for updates and information you’d like to have on record. Video conference calls may be used for update meetings while instant messaging or chats may be used for quick back and forth communication.
Set regular meetings. You don’t have to meet with a remote freelancer daily but a regularly-scheduled meeting is highly effective for keeping everyone up to speed with what’s happening in a project. You can do weekly or monthly meetings over the phone, through video conference, or even through chat. Just be sure to be consistent about it.
Setting expectations early on. A crucial part of the freelancer onboarding process is laying down your expectations about communication. Talk about how often you expect to meet with them, on which platform, and at what time.
The onboarding process is largely a give and take activity. After you’ve done your part, don’t forget to let the freelancer you’re hiring to talk. To get their feedback you can ask them questions like:
Let them ask questions too and answer them as clearly as possible.
Having a robust onboarding process marks the beginning of a successful collaborative working experience with freelancers. When they are properly introduced to your business, its core values, and its processes, it becomes easier to achieve your goals even if they are miles away from you.
Just remember these 7 onboarding tips and you’ll be on your way to better growth and productivity.If you’re looking for more tips about working with freelancers, don’t forget to check out more articles from the FreeUp blog.
No minimums. Fast access to top US and international talent. Rated 5 stars on TrustPilot.Start Hiring