In my career, I have spent equal time being a full-time employee and being a freelancer. I am not advocating for an either-or approach to staffing. There is an important place in a healthy company for both types of hires.
Full-time hires are needed to steer culture, influence the strategic direction, and provide continuity internally and externally as companies grow and adapt. Equally, having a strong network of freelancers at their disposal has big benefits. They have access to specialists to solve for specific talent gaps or projects, budget efficiencies, and the ability to infuse fresh DNA into day-to-day culture, thus gaining valuable perspective across many fronts.
Let’s dig in a bit, eh?
Transform Your Business with Freelancers
Working with freelancers alongside your full-time staff keeps you poised to meet your clients’ needs, grow and adapt to planned (and unplanned) changes, and protect your staff and budget.
Source specialized skills
As your client needs change, you have to be ready to to grow your capabilities to fulfill their requests. But even if they want the latest technology, for example, you don’t need to keep a Virtual Reality specialist in-house full-time. What do you do instead? Outsource.
Outsourcing allows for fluid, flexible resourcing as needed. Specialized and highly trained freelancers allow clients to operate at a high level and expand their capabilities while YOU get to maintain your flexibility.
Working with freelancers is a cost-effective staffing strategy. You gain access to a variety of skills without having to assume the cost of additional headcount. Full-time hires require significant investment, even when they leave.
The cost of hiring a new staff member can be equivalent to over 200% of their hiring salary. In other words, the cost to hire an engineer earning $135,000 could actually be $287,550. Then you can tack on the cost of benefits, temp labor when they are on leave, and general talent gaps when people take a summer vacation.
When a full-time employee chooses to leave, the average cost of replacing that employee is 16% of their annual salary. So that same engineer you hired last year who left for a new opportunity? They just cost you another $20,250.
Full-time employees are necessary to run a successful business. But rushing into full-time hiring can be costly in the long run. Tapping into a qualified freelancer to fill a newly open role allows for savings: you aren’t paying for benefits, equipment, dedicated office space, or any other generous employee perks. It also gives you time to clearly test the need for a role, prepare an onboarding program, and monitor employee satisfaction, which will, in the long run, save you turnover.
Protect your staff
Each employee within your company can quickly feel the weight of too many responsibilities. We’ll focus on one: content marketers.
There are currently 120+ existing marketing channels that marketers need to manage today. 120+! As channels continue to launch and capabilities expand, marketers need to keep up.The sheer volume of content likely demands the help of content creation and distribution experts to avoid employee burnout. “Overwork” is one of the top 3 things that leads staffers to quit their job. (See above text for cost of losing employees)
Creative freelance talent can alleviate stress for full-time marketing staff by helping to manage large workloads and ensure all relevant content distribution channels are optimally covered.
In an 8-hour full-time workday, workers typically work 3 hours. That means there are 5 hours a day that full-time workers aren’t actively focused on their jobs, but they are still getting paid.
Freelance talent is accountable for their time. Scopes, hourly rates, weekly caps, and general expectations can be set upfront, and freelancers are accustomed to providing a brief explanation for how they have spent their time, down to 15-minute increments if requested.
Payment cycles can be based on % of work completed; therefore, if it takes a freelancer longer to complete a project than originally anticipated, it takes them longer to get paid. Freelancers benefit by being efficient and effective with their time.
[Personally, as I became a more seasoned and focused freelancer, I found myself completing 8 hours of work in about half the time, expediting my project delivery and reducing client costs. I had less distraction, fewer meetings, no inter-office politics, and no commute to slow me down.]
Working with Freelancers Gives You an Advantage
In light of the growing demands required for companies to be successful with ever-diminishing budgets, I believe to thrive, healthy companies should aim for a 50/50 ratio of full-time employees to freelance talent. You will need a clear procedure for how both groups can work together seamlessly, but it is possible.
The flexibility of incorporating freelancers will help companies be more nimble and navigate the unforeseen, while the stability of full-timers will ensure that the company remains strategically pointed in the right direction.