After celebrating Independence, we thought it would be a fitting time to shine a spotlight on independent contractors and freelancers. In a recent survey conducted among Compete users, 65.8% believe that up to 10% of the workforce can be replaced by independent workers, with another 23.7% considering that up to a quarter of the workload can be outsourced.

The independent workforce in the US is significantly growing, rising to 51.1 million in 2021, a 34% increase, and expected to grow to over half of the working population, 86.5 million, by 2027.

The key factors for independent workers choosing this path are higher income potential, autonomous work, and prioritized flexibility. The majority are satisfied with their choice and report a stronger feeling of job security.

Main Advantages for outsourcing:

  • Improve cost efficiency and reduce risk
  • Support a diversity of business processes
  • Specialized expertise for higher productivity
  • Flexible resources for fluctuating workloads
  • Ready access to talent requiring minimal training

Similar to the hybrid workplace model, businesses are beginning to incorporate a hybrid workforce as well. The downside? This limited form of work can result in a lack of commitment, which in turn can lead to difficulty developing value.

This article is devoted to building working relationships that harness loyalty in order to become the preferred employer that preserves top talent.

*Note – if handling Independent Contractors may not be part of your job, you can communicate this to the relevant parties within your organization.

How to increase commitment among independent workers?

Within the Meyer & Allen ‘Three Component Model’ consisting of Affective, Continuance, and Normative commitment, we will focus on methods to improve the first.

Affective Organizational Commitment is an individual’s positive emotional attachment to and involvement in the organization for which they work.

Here are five things you can do to increase it:

Pay on time
They’re in it for the money. Tasks complete? Invoice received? Pay up. Businesses can handle net 30 or net 60 day terms, freelancers and contractors should be paid immediately. Nothing will have a greater impact on their appreciation and desire to prioritize your company upon future contracts.

Connect them
Keep freelancers in the loop with regular updates on projects they are working on. Introduce them to multiple points of contact – not to overload them, but to create better connections alongside a sense of inclusion, and to drive teamwork. Include them in related department discussions and give them access to communication channels.

Support them
Ask how you can help improve their work in terms of resources, people, and information you can provide to drive better results. A high level of organizational support will positively influence work engagement and self-efficacy. Acknowledge their efforts and communicate the ways in which their contribution is making a difference, as this will promote mutual respect and appreciation.

Give them autonomy
Independent Workers are driven by a desire for autonomy. Grant them the space to do their job. Avoid proactively managing their time and processes. Good contractors take ownership over their time, and most probably have a process and framework that differs from your organization. Recognize them as an external contributor, and don’t expect them to fit their work model to yours.

Show them the big picture
A one-off project is perceived very differently than an individual task that is part of a larger whole. Connect them to the game plan to raise their morale and give them a greater sense of significance. A lack of direct contact with the team can create a feeling of isolation. Giving them the bigger picture will not only instill trust, it may also provide your team with a fresh angle of expertise and innovation.

Closing thoughts

In the currently ambiguous economic situation, having an elite crowd of independent contractors on hand could be a suitable solution for improving efficiency and reducing costs, especially during a hiring freeze. Businesses that prepare for and embrace current trends will be the most prominent and desirable employers in the future.