Keeping Independents Happy 

By Jessica Soler | April 2, 2024

happy consultant

Key Points

As demand for their services increases, independent professionals have more project options and more choice of clients.

Enterprises must understand how to keep their high-value independents happy in order to retain them over the long term.

Emily Stringer, an MBO veteran and expert on independent talent, answered some questions about how to accomplish this.

Enterprises recognize that including independent professionals in the workforce is imperative. As demand for their services increases, independents have more project options and more choice of clients. How can a company ensure that it is attractive to high-value independent talent? 

I went to an expert for answers to this question. Emily Stringer is a Program Manager on our Marketing & Communications team and she’s worn many hats over her 13+ years at MBO. In a previous role she helped manage the advisory side of our practice, assisting independents and prospective independents learn how to start, run, and grow their businesses—basically everything they needed to know about working with large and small enterprises. She understands the independent journey and knows how an enterprise can be a Client of Choice for their high-value independents. 

What type of projects are independents looking for?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It varies from person to person. Some workers prefer longer projects working on-site or remote. They want to be fully engaged for several months and then move on to the next project. There are other independents who want to work fractionally, that is, with multiple clients at the same time. Still others want short term engagements with just one or two clients. Large companies trying to keep their independents happy need to understand how different people prefer to work with them and be flexible in the opportunities they offer.  

Is there a type of team structure or managerial structure that independents prefer?

I think it depends on the project. Independent contractors don’t have the same responsibilities or need the same level of information access as full-time employees, so structure isn’t as high a priority for them. Still, team or managerial structure is something the hiring manager can discuss during pre-contract interviews to ensure there is a good fit for both company and independent. 

What payment standards should be considered?

One of the best ways a company can become a Client of Choice is to pay fair wages in a timely manner. Net30 is an industry standard and while faster payment is certainly welcome, terms longer than Net30 can make it difficult for an independent to maintain adequate cash flow.  I highly recommend that enterprises avoid pigeonholing independent contractors in terms of how their services are billed. Rather than focusing only on hourly billing or fixed price projects, do what makes sense for the assignment and the expertise of the contractor. 

What are best practices during the interview process?

Remember that time is money for independent professionals. Keep the interview process streamlined so they don’t have to go through multiple rounds. Interview remotely instead of asking them to fly in for an in-person meeting.  

A lot of companies are saving a lot of time and resources for themselves and the independents they engage by using tools like MBO Marketplace. This platform allows them to quickly and easily identify qualified and already-vetted talent. It’s better for the independent, it’s better for the company. No time wasted and they can get straight to business and start discussing the scope of work. 

Any last thoughts?

For an independent, what makes an opportunity attractive is expedient equitable pay and fulfilling work. So my overall advice for keeping independents happy is to pay fairly in a timely fashion and make sure your contractors feel welcome, appreciated, and valued.  


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