Maybe you've decided to hire a contractor because you've found 1099 workers to be more cost effective at this stage of your business life cycle. Or, perhaps, you're looking to tap into a network of pros to get a specialized task taken care of. Whatever your reason for hiring project-based help, entrepreneurs are often surprised to discover how well contract employees can fit into their business plans.
For some, the ability to get expertise on demand has been a benefit of the contract economy. According to a 2016 Intuit study, the number of people working on-demand jobs will grow to 7.7 million Americans by the year 2020. (The study featured data from 6,247 workers who find work opportunities via online platforms.) Who'd have thought that you could find a tax lawyer, packaging designer and a carpenter available in the same place, all within hours?
If you're contracting 1099 employees, though, make sure you're getting the most out of each one with these tips.
1. Systematize onboarding.
Expectations, protocol and processes within your company may be second nature to you, but totally foreign to someone just walking into your company's workflow for the first time. Invest time in creating an onboarding process—whether it's documentation, a short video or a chat with a staffer—that helps your temp get up and running from the start.
By letting a contractor know how you work, as well as what you expect of their work, you'll help to minimize surprises. And they'll appreciate that you care enough to do it. Fewer miscommunications create better working conditions—and, in turn, better work. Plus, as you refine your onboarding and training process for a contractor, you can use it internally to practice more open lines of communication with everyone on your team.
2. Invest in collaboration.
Although contract workers are, by definition, on the outside of your core group of employees, they don't have to feel that way. And the less they do feel on the fringe, the more invested they'll feel in their work.
Invite freelancers to communicate with your team using internal collaboration platforms, like Slack, Trello, G Suite and more. And, if you don't yet use a project-management tool that encourages collaborative workflow, especially with remote employees, you might consider one. Not only can this help cut down on heaps of email, but you could also see improvements in how efficiently you staff both temp workers and staff. Just be sure you pay attention to what information you are comfortable sharing externally and keep sensitive data on internal-only platforms.
3. Find a setup for expenses that works.
If your contractor will be purchasing anything on your behalf for their projects, establish a system that truly works for both parties involved. For you as a business owner, that means knowing that a worker who isn't actually on your payroll doesn't take your business credit card for a wild ride; and for your contractor, that means more freedom and less paperwork.
Consider taking advantage of new technology platforms that allow you to digitally share a virtual “card" or a set amount of funds from your business bank account to contractors on a case-by-case basis. And, of course, you can always set spending limits on your existing business credit card with employee cards, too.
4. Conduct exit interviews.
On the surface, this might sound a little over-the-top and time consuming. But it's worth it to block off an hour on your calendar to talk to a contract worker whose stint is up because of what you might learn.
This person—who doesn't have their day-to-day employment at risk—can give you a perspective on what worked for your contractor relationship and what didn't. And that'll allow you to fix some of those inefficiencies, so you can get more out of your next freelance hire. Plus, when it comes to reviewing the work environment at your company as a whole, a contractor can be more candid than an internal employee and offer truthful advice to help you improve and attract top talent.
How to Make Sure You're Investing in the Right Outside Hires
The composition of the workforce is evolving at a staggering rate—so be certain that you're working with your hires using a modern outlook, too. If you're considering the unique needs of contract workers by putting both time and thought into how they integrate with your core team, you'll reap the rewards.
Remember: Contractors are meant to be temporary and hired for highly specialized tasks—that's the nature of their work, after all. Make sure you're still taking the time to identify when it's time for a full-time hire; don't avoid investing in your company by using a temporary worker where an employee should be.
Being deliberate with these choices and processes will help to allow you to work with all of your workers more efficiently.