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Freelance workers could be your summer shortage secret weapon: 3 tips to get it right

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It’s a dilemma that many HR pros are faced with during the summer: Employees take well-deserved summer vacations to rest and recharge so they can come back and do their best work – but you need to keep operations running smoothly.

Summer can be a hectic time for HR – but one of the biggest headaches can be trying to fill gaps in the workforce as employees take time off. On top of that, many companies are experiencing higher-than-average turnover rates in general.

Chances are, employees who are working are taking on that extra load, making them more likely to burn out and eventually quit. Instead of letting your bottom line – or your people – take a hit, consider hiring freelance talent this summer to fill your workforce gaps.

Why hiring freelance talent is the right move

Since the COVID-19 public health emergency was lifted in May, many have found themselves getting back to vacations and other trips this summer. In fact, nearly two in three adults are likely to take a vacation this summer, according to a survey by BankRate.

For many businesses, whether it’s just to fill summertime gaps or in response to turnover, hiring independent talent can ensure that your people maintain a high quality of work and that nothing slips through the cracks.

Freelance talent can do a lot for workers and for the company as a whole, like:

  • Reduce the overload of work on existing employees
  • Eliminate the need for extensive training on skills and processes, and
  • Offer a new perspective on current processes or solutions.

“At this time of year in particular, [freelancers] can also support by offsetting disproportionate workloads, hitting project deadlines, and offloading work from full-time employees, so [they] don’t feel stress and burnout upon coming back from time out of the office,” says Shai-Lee Spigelman, GM of Fiverr Business.

Plus – amid economic turbulence and hiring woes – companies who hire freelancers are more confident about facing future turmoil. In fact, 84% of businesses who use freelancers say they are confident in their company’s ability to respond to disruption, compared to 69% of those who do not use freelancers, per a 2022 Upwork study.

However, it’s important to note that although hiring challenges in the summer can exist for any business, what type of talent you hire to fill workforce gaps depends on a lot of factors.

For some, hiring freelancers may not fit business needs. Here are some factors to consider when deciding what kind of talent will help push your company forward:

  • Type of help needed: One of the most important things to think about when it comes to hiring additional support is how long you’ll need the extra support for. Freelance talent is the best fit for companies looking for temporary help that already has specific subject matter expertise and knowledge.
  • Budget allocation: There are also financial aspects to look into. For example, depending on what type of industry you’re in and what level of help you’re looking for, hiring independent talent can seem like an investment. However, those costs have to be weighed against the financial burden of hiring a full or part-time employee, like the cost of insurance and benefits, and
  • Workforce gaps: Are you in need of more help because your regular staff is struggling during the summer or is it a wider-ranging problem with the workload and your headcount?

3 tips to maintain a cohesive team through staffing changes

Even though freelancers don’t require as much oversight as a new full-time employee would, there are still some best practices that you can implement to make sure freelance hires feel welcome and keep your team cohesive amid staffing changes.

Open up the conversation. “First things first: It cannot and should not fall on HR alone. We must see hiring managers and HR working together more effectively to manage freelancer talent – just as they do with full-time workers,” says Spigelman. “This will result in freelance talent being set up for success from the get-go, with a clear understanding of exactly the support required that often only the hiring manager can speak to.”

Make an effort to optimize onboarding. “Companies will need to dedicate formal resources and tech stacks to ensure freelance talent can jump right in and avoid wasting time on anything that gets in their way of providing the support needed,” says Spigelman.

Offer collaboration opportunities. “It’s also important to offer the same level of collaboration opportunities for freelance talent and full-time employees to create a fully integrated work environment,” says Spigelman. That way, it gives employees and freelance talent a chance to connect and build a more cohesive team.

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