Integrating freelancers into the modern marketing workforce is no longer a trend but a necessity. At Wripple, we work with companies every day that thrive by seamlessly blending on-demand talent (freelancers) and full-time employees to achieve common goals. So, how do you successfully integrate freelancers and traditional employees? We gathered tips from clients and our research, to pull together this list of best practices.
Freelance Talent Sourcing
The first step towards building successful blended teams is identifying and sourcing the right freelancers who will both augment and complement your team's current skill set.
1. Define clear objectives and the skills required before you start your search for the right freelancers for the job. Don’t shortchange the process. Create a thorough job description just like you would for a full-time role.
2. Leverage on-demand freelance services platforms like Wripple that can facilitate access to a diverse talent pool and save time.
3. Review portfolios and recommendations carefully to ensure they have the necessary experience and skills.
4. Conduct interviews not only to assess required hard skills, but also to determine if a freelancer's communication skills and work style fit with your organization.
Effective talent operations involve a blend of intelligent strategy and digital tools.
5. Develop a streamlined onboarding process for freelancers including knowledge transfer, access to necessary tools, training, and a clear understanding of expectations. BONUS POINT: Acquaint them with your organization’s core values and principles so they are in lockstep with the team.
6. Implement communication and project management tools like Slack, Teams, or Asana to foster collaboration among all team members, ensure transparency, and track tasks and deliverables.
7. Schedule regular check-in meetings to maintain open lines of communication and ensure freelancers are appropriately integrated into the team. BONUS POINT: Be sure they are clear on who to contact for different types of issues.
8. Implement performance tracking to monitor and measure freelancers' performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with project goals.
“For remote or contract/freelance employees, we take a similar approach to onboarding as we do with full-time employees but prioritize simplification to maintain efficiency and confidentiality.” - Ashley Schnider, Director of Campfire Creative, Georgia Pacific’s in-house agency
Talent Pool Management
To address skill gaps and potential overlap in your workforce, efficient talent pool management is vital.
9. Build and maintain a diverse talent pool of freelancers to ensure flexibility in talent selection for various projects. Ideally, use freelancer management software to manage your pool all in one place and provide easy access for profile reviews and re-hires.
10. Conduct a regular skill inventory audit and update that information in a centralized database. This can serve as a first point of reference for any skill requirement, enabling immediate identification of existing talent or the need for freelance help. Some platforms, like Wripple, allow you to build custom talent pools with private ratings and reviews.
11. Continue to engage freelance talent after a project ends. These workforce relationships are valuable assets for the organization, and they may be valuable for future work.
“It’s helpful to look at utilization rate across the team to assess where it’s valuable to add full-time headcount versus contract/freelance support.” – Ashley Schnider, Director of Campfire Creative, Georgia Pacific’s in-house agency
Blended Teams Management
Leading a composite team of freelancers and full-time employees demands unique finesse founded on trust, communication, and acknowledgment.
12. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of both full-time employees and freelancers, ensuring everyone understands their contributions.
13. Foster a collaborative and inclusive work culture that values the contributions of both full-time employees and freelancers.
14. Promote transparency in terms of project objectives, timelines, and potential changes to keep the entire team aligned.
15. Provide regular feedback, attribution for work, and appreciation to build confidence, motivation, and a sense of belonging among freelancers.
“It’s about clear communication, everybody feeling that they’re an important part of what we’re trying to do.” - Chris Phillips, VP at Maverick Studios, Inspire Brands’ in-house agency
The Team “X-Factor”
Every individual brings unique skills, views, and approaches to the team – this is the team’s “X-factor.”
16. Encourage a team-first mindset, emphasizing that the collective effort of the team is more significant than individual contributions. BONUS POINT: Recognize the team’s unique X-factor and use it to create a differentiated functioning style for the team.
17. Embrace the diversity of thought and experience that freelancers bring to the table. This can lead to innovation and adaptability.
18. Create an environment that normalizes constructive disagreements, enabling different perspectives to coalesce into the best possible solutions.
“Obviously, there are some limitations in treating freelancers like full-time employees, but in many ways, I don’t treat folks who are freelance or contract that differently than I do my full-time team members. We meet regularly, we have team meetings and one-on-ones, I’m trying to create a team environment.” - Tara Heptinstall, Head of Marketing, Theta
Collective Dedication to Success
As freelancers continue to integrate into the modern workforce, the ability to effectively manage and get the best out of blended teams is crucial. These strategies can help bring out the best in both freelancers and full-time employees.
It's about moving beyond just integrating freelancers into conventional workplace landscapes – it's about creating collaborative, heterogeneous team ecosystems that drive innovation and success. Adaptive leadership, robust communication channels, a cooperative environment, and an inclusive approach can influence how efficiently a marketing leader can tap into and manage this evolving employment paradigm.
As the dynamics of work continue to shift, these strategies can empower marketing leaders to stay ahead, be flexible, and grow in a changing landscape.