I found some interesting research on the impact of an employee’s positive on-boarding experience and thought it was worth sharing with #freelancerevolution readers. While much of HR practice doesn’t fit the unique needs of the global freelance community, there are certainly some important lessons we can learn and apply from HR and on boarding is a particularly rich vein. According to Bamboo HR, among employees with a positive on-boarding experience: 87% say they have good role clarity; 89% say they’re engaged; and 91% report a strong connection to the organization.
These are good results, and ought to be just as relevant to the experience of freelance platforms members. After all, role clarity, engagement, and connection to the platform should lend to increased productivity, and greater overall revenue as more commitment to overall platform member likely improves lead sharing and hunting in packs. Moreover, there is no more important outcome for a platform than the retention of its highest performing and most engaged freelancer platform members.
We know that freelancers expect five outcomes from their platform, and are likely to lose engagement and commitment when these outcomes aren’t provided: Interesting, fairly paid, work A continuing flow of project opportunity that reinforces confidence and commitment to the platform Administrative, business and marketing support opportunities to future-proof my skills and experience membership in an active professional community that makes me better.
So, how well do freelance platforms assist their members to start up well and experience early success? We asked a panel of platform CEOs:
As a new freelancer, I’m not sure how to be a successful solopreneur. How does your platform set up new full-time freelancers for success? What are the most important 1-2 challenges that your platform will help me to overcome?
Here is what they said:
Chandrika Pasricha CEO Flexing It “The success of any consulting platform depends on the quality of the work, and our goal at Flexing It is to enable the maximum number of consultants in our community to get matched to assignments and provide enabling support to ensure they deliver well. The first projects are critical to establish a virtuous cycle and build trust in the platform, and our team supports this through feedback on freelancers early proposals and project budgets, proactively marketing consultants based on skill fit, and providing operational support on invoicing/payments/tax queries. We maintain frequent contact with regular freelancers and offer visibility into upcoming projects to help them plan, and also get them involved in co-creating project teams for bigger project scopes with enterprise clients.”
Charly Gaillard, CEO Sneakers+Jackets “With more and more employees becoming freelancers every day, we are providing first-class support to help them set up. To do so, we provide help on choosing the right kind of company or legal framework and how to register it; advising on the right level of protection (medical healthcare, life insurance, work insurance); tips on how they should organize their resume to increase impact; and, most importantly, train them on succeeding in client interviews.”
Stephanie Nadi Olsen, CEO We Are Rosie “I started We Are Rosie after hearing from dozens of independent marketers about the challenges they face in business development and consistent pay. It can be difficult to be both the marketing expert and the person responsible for filling the sales pipeline. We alleviate that pressure by connecting our community with projects opportunities from Fortune 500 brands, effectively handling business development. Additionally, we provide consistency of pay to our consultants, removing the egregious long-payment terms that independents have to navigate by paying our consultants weekly.”
Alex Hirst, Co-CEO Hoxby “Hoxby is a community, and because we work in teams and have an internal support network, we hope nobody feels ‘solo’. One way we help is by operating a self-billing invoice system: we pay our working freelancers on the same day each month (regardless of when the client pays) removing the headache of invoicing and chasing fees. Our community also benefits from technical support, access to premium technology platforms, training and mentoring plus the collective intelligence of our people.”
Sandeep Dhillon, CEO Talmix “Once registered with Talmix and approved to join our network, the consultant receives an email that includes our welcome pack and guidance on how to maximise their experience with us. We have an extensive resources section on our website full of guides dedicated to helping our talent achieve success. We also provide discounted access to external services such as CV prep and review as well as essential services for freelancers such as business insurance. We also always ensure there are multiple feedback channels to ensure we’re constantly improving and giving freelancers the best support they need.”
Ryan Gill, CEO Communo “Once a freelancer creates a profile on Communo, they aren’t just able to find work, they join a community. Our best members get tremendous value from their associations with freelancers. Belonging to Communo doesn’t make entrepreneurship easy, but it does make it easier because everyone is there to support, encourage and share best practices. In addition to finding work to apply to, members can improve how they scope and price projects, how to better position themselves, how to source team members, how to improve their financials, etc.”
Leslie Garçon, CEO Weem “We are offering several services to future and new freelancers. Many people call us while still in their decision process, and our partners and talent manager make time to advise: how much activity they can expect, their daily rate, and how Weem works. Once they join our community we provide a list of negotiated offers: accountants, complementary health insurance, banks, co-working spaces, and coaching. We have also launched an initiative called les indépendantes to foster gender equality among top freelancers and provide peer mentoring for aspiring or new freelancers and give them tips to thrive in this new career path.”
Tash Menon, CEO Mash “We are referral-only and our MASH recruitment strategy focuses on “mindset over pure skillset”. MASHers are situated across four continents. When they are on-boarded by our Community Manager, we link them up with other community members who share common interests. We believe this connection survives when people don’t see each other on a regular basis and a stronger culture and sense of belonging can be developed. We focus on building strong micro-cultures within each of our MASH Up teams: We ensure each freelancer understands their part, how we schedule and conduct meetings, share the workload, make decisions, give each other feedback, blend virtual and in-person meetings, and respect individual styles. This is documented so everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities.”
Louise Doorn CEO HelloMaaS “New freelancers start freelancing for a reason. And we want to safeguard that. Hence our slogan “bring back the FREE in freelancing”. With us, they can specify what work they like most, for whom they want to work and in what industry. Projects? Fixed price, no hassle, no problem. Or perhaps no projects at all? We offer that freedom too. Consult clients in our Flex Team pools and start before the briefing is even there.”
Christoph Hardt, CEO Comatch “In COMATCH we personally support freelancers from the moment they join our network, the first step is an onboarding call to understand their experience, project preferences and working style. We advise them on how to optimize their profile for success and support them every step of their freelance journey with an offering of Webinars, courses and tools tailored to their needs. We empower them to pursue a work-life that is more than a job.”
In the introduction to this piece, I described the positive aspects of good onboarding practice. An article by Business News Daily, reporting on a study by CareerBuilder, points out the other side, the negative impact of an inadequate or badly done onboarding effort on morale, productivity and retention. Other studies report that 69% of those having a positive onboarding experience are more likely to remain in the organization.
Does your platform have an effective onboarding process that equips freelancers to experience early success, bond with platform colleagues, understand the culture and values of the platform, learn the rules and policies, and feel a strong connection to the platform? If not, there’s plenty to learn from the advice of our CEO panel.
Viva la revolution!