How to Attract and Retain Great Independent Talent

By MBO Partners | May 4, 2022

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Attracting top talent is an important priority at most organizations. And companies are finding a lot of this talent today in the independent workforce. Independent professionals provide access to in-demand skills without adding to company payroll, they offer staffing flexibility, and can help organizations minimize employment costs.

But as more companies become aware of these benefits, competition for top independent talent is growing. The best independent talent is no longer looking for work—they are turning it down. More than 80% of independent workers say they have some or a lot of choice in who they work with. Follow these five tips to leverage and engage the best independent talent for your business.

1. Use a Freelance Marketplace

Freelance marketplaces—online platforms that connect independent contractors with projects—are quickly growing in popularity. They help organizations match the supply and demand of labor, reduce time-to-fill, and lower recruiting costs. A marketplace enables the transaction between contractor and client directly online, eliminating the need for a third party like a staffing company. After filling out a profile, an independent contractor can search for or be matched with opportunities that fit their skill set. Then, you can evaluate candidates and engage the right person for the job.

Independent contractors are familiar with using marketplaces as a way to search for work. Leveraging a marketplace that clearly displays available opportunities with your company and automates tasks such as onboarding, payment, and engagement documentation can be a big help in attracting top talent.

Up next: What to Know Before Hiring through a Freelance Marketplace

2. Learn the Needs of  Independent Talent

Independent contractors value freedom, control, and flexibility in their work, and communication is their top driver for satisfaction with a client. Because independents today have so much choice in who they work with, companies must try to meet independents on their own terms in order to attract and retain the best talent.

There are many ways to work toward independent professional happiness throughout the engagement process. Encourage hiring managers to proactively communicate program processes and procedures to independents at the start of the engagement, consider using a client-branded welcome site for education regarding what to expect during vetting and engagement, and require managers to report on high-value project deliverables so independents feel appreciated and can see how their work is making a difference.

Check out: MBO Partners’ latest State of Independence research

3. Engage Contractors Compliantly

The regulatory environment for engaging independent contractors is a complex world dependent on federal and state-level tests, guidance documents, and laws. Enterprises must adhere to these many regulations or bear the risk of misclassification.

Working with a reputable independent contractor engagement provider can help ensure you have a rigorous and consistently enforced classification process, giving contractors the flexibility they want and creating a positive engagement experience.

Up next: 10 Strategies to Reduce Contractor Compliance Risk

4. Onboard Efficiently

The onboarding process can often make or break the engagement experience for independents. But creating a positive experience while getting projects up and running quickly can be a difficult balance to find.

Independents value responsiveness during the onboarding process. Create an onboarding website that gives them straightforward information about engaging with your company, initial self-assessment surveys, documented roles and responsibilities, and automated payment options. Ensure the onboarding process includes defined project goals and objectives, and a clear project scope.

Check out: How to Streamline Onboarding Independent Talent

5. Create a Positive Work Environment

When independents are satisfied with their client relationship, they will be more likely to return for future work. Re-engagement can save your business time and money, so it is worthwhile to put measures in place for creating a positive working relationship.

Our research shows that independents want to work with clients who value their work, allow them control over their work and their schedule, and treat them as a team member. Take time to consider what your business can offer independents—align payment terms with market standards, create a feedback loop to understand and measure satisfaction, and ensure internal employees and managers are committed to creating a positive experience.

Up Next: Four Benefits to Re-Engaging Independent Professional Talent

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