Working as an independent contractor isn’t always easy or straightforward. Although there are now 51 million independent professionals—and that number is expected to increase—many jobs are still created with traditional employees in mind. In order to take advantage of the independent professional labor market, it’s important for enterprises to learn where independents might be struggling and how to optimize policies and processes to make their business a desirable place for independent talent to work.
5 Independent Contractor Challenges and Solutions
1. Not Getting Paid on Time
Getting paid on time doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but it’s a common problem among independents. Independent contractors set their own bill rates, which might change based on the specific project or contract they sign with a with a client.
Solution: Fair and Quick Compensation
Being paid fairly—in line with market standards—and quickly is one of the top factors that comes into play when independents choose the clients they work with. Using a contract to define work is a big help here. A bill rate should be defined in the contract along with payment terms such as invoicing, billing, and time-keeping policies. Clearly defining a timeframe for invoicing and payment will help avoid confusion and conflict down the road.
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2. Facing Unreasonable Processes and Procedures
Processes and procedures may sound like a big, catch-all category, but really it just means making it easier for independent talent to work with your company. Consider it from their perspective. How hard is it to find a contract role at your company? Is there a clearly defined place on your website or does your company use a talent network or marketplace? Once a manager has identified someone they want to hire, how long does it take to get to work and how streamlined is the vetting process?
Solution: Direct Sourcing with a Talent Marketplace
With direct sourcing, managers can hire independent talent directly, which not only helps to streamline vetting and onboarding, but also reduces the overall costs of finding and engaging talent. With a talent marketplace, managers can post opportunities and quickly source the talent they need. This type of technology helps with automation and limits the need for time-consuming paperwork. Putting these types of procedures in place is helpful in building positive relationships with independents and attracting top talent from the start.
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3. Feeling Alone
Because of the nature of their work, independents often feel like an outsider when they are brought in to work on a project. In general, they are there for a limited amount of time to complete a specific project, which can make it hard to fit in and feel like they are a true part of the team.
Solution: Treat Independents as Part of the Team
Like anyone, independents want to work at a company where they are treated with trust and respect. In fact, 90 percent of independents say being treated as a part of the team is either a very important or important factor in choosing who they work for. To help independents feel less isolated (even if they are working remotely), take the time to get to know their interests and goals. Encourage communication among team members with an in-person or virtual coffee break or happy hour where people can chat informally.
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4. Getting Stuck Doing the Same Work
While independents are experts in their respective industries, they also need to keep their skills updated to ensure they can provide you with the best product possible. The vast majority of independents say learning new skills is very important or important to their careers.
Solution: Provide Opportunities to Gain New Skills
Encourage independents to grow and learn by expanding the boundaries of their project assignments when it makes sense to do so. This will help them to widen their base of skills, which will ultimately benefit your business in the long run. If an independent comes with great referrals for a project that might require some skills that are new to them, don’t immediately say no. Weight the pros and cons and consider whether the project could be a positive learning opportunity.
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5. Feeling that Their Work Isn’t Valued
Independents want to work with clients who value their work and provide honest, respectful feedback. If communication isn’t a priority, the client-contractor relationship can suffer, leading to project issues down the road.
Solution: Prioritize Good Communication
Good communication is truly the cornerstone of a good working relationship. Before a project begins, set communication standards and goals. Then, throughout the project, provide feedback, encourage positive reinforcement, and help independents understand why their work matters in the larger picture of what your company is trying to achieve.
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