Companies and workers alike: heed a decided shift occurring on the employment scene. Freelancing is expanding in a big way in 2023. Says who? This news comes directly from a cross-section of participants in the labor market.
In 2022, about 36% of the workforce engaged in freelance work. According to a recent survey, that proportion is expected to more than double this year. Based on the responses, “73% say they will either start or continue freelancing.”
What accounts for this leap in freelancing? The reasons are varied but revolve around economics as the main driver. High inflation, increased cost of living, and layoffs across tech and other sectors top the list. As a result, “The majority of U.S. workers surveyed are feeling less secure, or the same, about their income this year.”
That’s why some are turning to freelancing as an additional source of income. But that’s only part of the picture. Others, namely victims of recent staff cuts, are flocking to freelancing to replace their lost wages. Then there are those who gravitate proactively to freelancing in these uncertain times to be the master of their own destiny. Still others choose the freelance lifestyle for the overall options and variety it offers.
Put together, contract work is destined to play a large role in how all stakeholders get through this anticipated economic downturn.
Connecting Supply and Demand
The supply of freelancers is one end of the equation. Demand is the other. Why should companies use freelancers? In today’s challenging climate, it’s a sign of the times. When the economy sputters and layoffs and hiring freezes occur, bringing on contingent workers remains a uniquely effective way to fill the gaps and then some.
By integrating contractors into their employment mix, organizations can gain flexibility and lower their cost of doing business. With limited budgets and resources on one end and an abundant stream of able and eager freelancers on the other, companies that go this route can obtain the skills and support they seek on favorable terms. It’s a solution, thanks to market dynamics, whose time has come.
A report entitled “The Contingent Labor Imperative: How Agile Enterprises Succeed in a Modern Workforce Model” offers a top-level list of benefits companies derive from freelancers. These include: “meeting temporary workload needs, increasing productivity, getting tasks done more quickly, and accessing specialized skills and hard-to-find talent.”
And Empowering Marketing in the Process
Companies have used contingent workers through the years—it’s not a new phenomenon. Several marquee brands presently hire large numbers of freelancers to drive their business, including Meta, Walmart, and Nintendo. All three deploy freelancers for myriad activities in marketing, which is a prime target for the use of contractors.
Integrating freelancers into marketing teams is a high-value practice at this time. In many marketing roles—email developers, researchers, strategists, media buyers, PR managers, ecommerce specialists—highly specialized experts are well-positioned to quickly apply their skills to high-level assignments, even without extensive experience at the company. This is invaluable at this tough economic juncture, when companies have had to scale back their marketing staff and spend.
So how can organizations secure freelance talent quickly, and how can they do so in ways that immediately yield return on their investment? Being speedy and savvy is critical.
How to Recruit Contract Workers ASAP, 2023 Style
There’s good news here. Company policies that evolved in the last few years form a foundation for efforts in the arena of freelance work. On top of that, there are strategies employers can implement to attract talent quickly, starting with:
Telecommuting and remote/hybrid arrangements took root during the COVID-19 pandemic and still mark the mode of work today for many in the corporate world, appearing to be both popular and enduring. From this perspective, Lightcast’s 2003 Global Talent Playbook proclaims: “Remote work is here to stay.” It provides flexibility and work-life balance, which are values integral to the freelance mantra.
- Use this feature as a selling point for engaging and retaining freelancers. Lightcast reports that remote jobs “now represent 15% of all postings requiring degrees.” And, on that note: “the top three remote jobs in 2022 were web developer, video game designer, and computer programmer.”
- Think about whether roles that are office-bound can transfer to an offsite basis fully or even partially. Doing so not only expands the appeal of open positions to a larger base of candidates but also extends the geographic boundaries beyond the local area to the nation and the entire globe.
Post It with Pay
Get right to the point to obtain the contingent talent. In other words, don’t dilly dally with the financial issue that is frequently top of mind for gig/job seekers in this harsh economic environment. Listing the level of compensation directly on job postings can instill clarity and accelerate the potential hiring process.
Although it’s a departure from tradition, this upfront approach is hardly idealistic—it’s happening. According to Lightcast: “The rate of advertising wages on job postings more than doubled between 2017 and 2022.” How does this finding factor into the bigger recruiting picture for 2023? The reality now is that “25% of degree position postings have included an advertised salary.” In fact, several locations in the country have enacted laws that require this information, such as New York City and Colorado. As a result, “more and more companies are following suit.”
Work with the Right Recruiters
Rather than go it alone to try to secure talent, reach out to specialists for surefire and streamlined results. They have the infrastructure, network, and know-how to tap into exactly what employers require efficiently and effectively.
Creative Circle, a recruiting and consulting services firm, is a leader in temporary and freelance staffing; their most prominent placements range from digital marketing and creative staffing to managed services and in-house studio development. A leader in this space in the U.S. and Canada, Creative Circle matches its broad candidate base with the precise requirements of clients, which include the Fortune 500, boutique agencies, and startups. It understands that clients have needs that may be both dynamic and urgent and has the breadth and agility to resolve their biggest challenges. As the Creative Circle tagline says: “We make hiring exceptional talent simple.”
How to Retain these Valuable Workers
Train and Tool
Offering work on a remote basis is an enticing hiring hook, but it requires planning, education, and resources of its own. Put systems and corresponding learning in place for stakeholders to prosper. “Leaders must adapt to leading and developing teams from a distance,” reads an article from Business News Daily. ”This new work environment requires a different set of skills than traditional in-office management. Leaders need to be prepared to address challenges—such as communication, teamwork and company culture—among a dispersed workforce.”
- Provide managers with knowledge to succeed in the remote universe. Learning should cover how to establish and communicate clear expectations as well as inspire and recognize individual and group contributions, and robust training helps leaders effectively guide and supervise virtual/distributed teams. Set this up soon to ensure a smooth flow of work and team satisfaction.
- Invest in collaboration technologies and applications that give teams and groups the means to connect, brainstorm, and share work. “By using the right tools and technologies, it’s possible to quickly bring together virtual teams to perform a variety of tasks with greater efficiency and better results than individual efforts could achieve alone.”
Appoint an Ombudsman
Companies may engage a number of contingent workers who may serve in various capacities and parts of the organization and have different reporting relationships. This can form a complex web, especially within a large and decentralized firm. As a best practice that helps in this situation, install a manager to oversee these members from the start and on an ongoing basis.
A freelance manager has a range of responsibilities and offers an array of benefits to the organization and workers. This person onboards freelance arrivals and provides them all with the same information about pertinent policies; this helps with, among other things, quality control. This individual communicates clearly about expectations from the company’s point of view, removing ambiguities and freeing freelance talent to focus on their assignments. A go-to person, the manager provides these disparate contractors with an overarching relationship and main point of contact.
To sum it all up…. Life and the economy being what they are, more freelance talent is on the market at this time when companies most need it. What’s the call to action for 2023? When addressing today’s hiring needs, organizations must move decisively and quickly to obtain and then retain these valuable freelance resources. And get in touch with Creative Circle today to get the support you need for your hiring journey, especially in marketing and allied functions.
About the author.
You name it, she covers it. That’s the can-do attitude Sherry M. Adler brings to the craft of writing. A polished marketing and communications professional, she has a passion for learning and the world at large. She uses it plus the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders of all kinds. And to show how all of this can make a difference, she calls her business WriteResults NY, LLC.