How to Hire and involve event freelancers
Freelance event staff provide the ultimate flexible workforce, enabling you to scale up when you need to pull off a big project, but keep employment costs low the rest of the time.
The only fly in the ointment is that event freelancers might not understand your company culture in the same way your full time staff do. So what can you do to make sure you hire the right people, secure their commitment and get them on board to work as one the team? Here are our top seven tips.
1. Think long-term not short-term
Although you might only need a freelancer for a short period, don’t treat them as an easy come, easy go commodity. Any time you hire a freelancer, you should view it as adding a new member to your team. You should seek to build long-term relationships so that individuals’ skills can be called upon whenever you might need them again in future.
This means taking adequate time and consideration to find the right people. Approach hiring freelancers in the same way that you would hiring a full time employee. Meet the candidate in person or at least set up a Skype video call. Conduct a formal interview to assess if they’re right for the job and a good fit for your company.
2. Don’t go for the cheapest
If you’re looking to hire an event freelancer to take care of your event’s graphic design requirements or write copy for your website, for example, you’ll undoubtedly receive a large range of quotes.
While it’s tempting to go for the most competitive, it’s often a false economy. Look for value the individual can add rather than how much you can save. For example, how much effort do they put into interpreting your brief? How many questions do they ask? What suggestions do they make? Do they demonstrate that they’re switched on and can achieve the results you’re looking for?
Sites such as Fiverr and People Per Hour make outsourcing to low-cost countries such as India and the Philippines easy but much can be lost in translation, making the job more strung out and stressful than if you’d kept it closer to home. Dealing with different time zones can also be frustrating when you’re on a deadline.
3. Provide a proper induction
You wouldn’t hire a new member of staff and not provide any induction to the company, or training in procedures and processes, so be sure to do the same for your event’s freelancers.
If possible, have them come into the office to meet the rest of the team, talk through the way you do things and learn about the company’s background. Being privy to background information and being able to see things with one’s own eyes offers a deeper level of understanding – especially for visual learners.
If freelancers are unable to physically come in, consider setting up Skype meetings with key team members and provide useful documents such as brand guidelines.
4. Connect them to the office
Because freelancers don’t work in the office with other employees, they often feel distant from the companies with which they are working. Make them feel more connected by providing a list of other team members, with headshots and contact details.
Make sure everyone is connected on Skype or on any other team communication tools that you use, so it’s easy for freelancers to reach out and ask a question whenever they need to. This can improve overall collaboration.
You could also offer them the opportunity to ‘hot desk’ in your office if they feel they could benefit from being amongst the team.
5. Set up the tech
While your event’s freelancer might have their own tools for the job, where appropriate, you can make them feel more integral by providing company mobiles or laptops.
Arrange for them to have access to company systems by setting up a VPN or a company file sharing system. Perhaps they should also have a company email address?
Make sure they have the programmes and applications they need and that they understand how to use them.
6. Invite freelancers to staff meetings
If you really want to develop great long-term relationships with your event freelancers, involve them in the company like your employees. Invite them to important staff meetings and keep them up to date with the progress of the company or any organisational changes.
Don’t forget to include your valued freelancers in the Christmas party, end of project celebrations or team building days.
7. Use a RACI (Event Management Tool) framework to manage your events
Taking a RACI approach to managing your events – including any freelancers involved in them – will dramatically help improve communications, avoid anything ‘slipping through the cracks,’ and ensure everyone is delivering as expected and on time.
If you’re working on larger, more complex events with lots of moving parts, team members and various freelance staff then having a RACI matrix to help you project manage could be an essential event management tool you don’t want to be without.
8. Provide recognition
Positive recognition of employee performance is one of the key drivers of employee engagement – but the same also applies to freelancers, and that’s something companies often forget.
All too often, once a freelancer has completed their work they never hear any more about the overall project and they feel completely out of the loop.
One way to avoid this, and to effectively display appreciation for their work, is to follow-up with freelancers at the end of each event project. Tell them how their work played into the greater scheme of things and how they’ve impacted company success.
This not only raises freelancers’ confidence in their work, but also it increases their motivation to succeed in future projects.
Providing a rock-solid onboarding experience will not only make your event more successful, it will make your company stronger.
By nurturing a pool of trusted and loyal freelancers you’ll always have extra team members you can rely on when you need them. In addition, you never know when you might be looking for your next brilliant full time member of staff – this way you’ll have people readymade for the role.
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