Employees at massive companies often toil away without seeing a financial benefit – and they have no control over when or how they work. With all that considered, it’s no surprise that freelancing has taken the workplace by storm: As evidenced by freelancer-friendly changes in the tax season that just ended, the workforce is becoming increasingly independent.
A recent Upwork study found that about 47 percent of millennials, compared to 36 percent of the total U.S. workforce, already engage in freelance work, and more than half of all U.S. workers are expected to freelance by 2027. Many of these freelancers are eager to work with startups that can work flexibly, giving entrepreneurs a valuable pipeline for cost-effective expertise.
Unfortunately, many companies treat freelancers as a replaceable and inexpensive labor tool – separate from their company culture. Even if companies can motivate staff employees, they still undermine productivity if they leave freelancers out of the equation. A 2014 study from the University of Georgia found that when employees feel excluded, they engage in behavior that has a toxic effect on workplace morale.
The unique needs and motivations of freelancers – autonomy, independence and consistent income – are only going to become more important. To optimize freelancer output, companies must begin to harness the power of these motivations.
Michael Burdick is the CEO of Paro, the outsourced finance and accounting department for growing businesses. Paro’s purpose is to empower people to do what they love.