4 Tips for a Successful Onboarding

Every small business can benefit greatly from engaging expert help on part time basis. Using freelancers, in particular experienced senior professionals, is a lower cost solution that can provide a needed boost to your business. However, if you are not ready to integrate freelancers into your team, there is a risk that all these benefits will be negated.

So how do you improve your freelancers’ effectiveness, enthusiasm, and loyalty?

Start by focusing on how you get them on-board. It may be easy to think that after all the selection and negotiations, the job is done and your freelancer will fit right in with your team. Unfortunately that is not the case in many instances. Successful onboarding goes a long way to ensuring successful long term relationship.

In an environment of talent shortage and growing competition for skilled resources and experts, many companies fall short. Indeed, 22% of staff turnover happens within the first 45 days. Freelancers, who often work remotely, rely on successful onboarding even more than employees. Unlike employees in your office, freelancers can’t pop their head around the corner to ask a question or walk down the hall to track down a missing document.

Onboarding is not solely about getting a new freelancer started. It’s also about connecting freelancers with your organization’s culture, which helps them feel valued from the beginning. After all you engaged them to be part of your team.

If you follow these four simple steps for onboarding freelancers you’ll see greater dedication, productivity and return on your investment. You’ll also enjoy smoother, more successful projects.

1. Virtual office – connect online

Connection with the team leads to communication and engagement. One of the first things after signing up your freelancer should be to connect them to your team in a seamless fashion. This will improve the level of collaboration and your business will benefit more fully from their broad experience.

Ways to develop connections include:

  • Introduce freelancers to team members via video chat like Skype or Google Hangouts.
  • Conduct meetings via video chat instead of over the phone.
  • Create shared collaboration spaces accessible to all team members.

Technology today provides easy ways to communicate and collaborate on-line. Whether you are using your existing technology, open source tools or Almarelo platform, connectivity and seamless collaboration are a bedrock of successful engagement.

2. Share project documents

Key part of the onboarding process is sharing relevant documents. Even before you select your freelancer, you should consider how you are planning to help them get up to speed faster and understand your expectations. Plan out how you will provide them with access to project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information.

Easy way to share documents is to create an on-line collaboration space that can be accessed both by your employees and freelancers where you can upload:

  • Relevant internal documents the team currently uses.
  • Related project samples.
  • Project expectations, deliverables, timeline, and payment schedule.

Access to these documents will help the freelancer ask clarifying questions before diving in.

3. Explain the your brand

No matter how much research a freelancer does before starting a project, they will not be fully familiar with your brand and your business. Explaining your brand in context of the project encourages a successful relationship because freelancer will understand how their efforts contribute to the success.

Do not limit your explanation to only the external brand. Internal brand, or your culture, is as important. Every business, no matter how small, runs on unspoken rules and nuances that make up the vibe of the company. This includes how everyone communicates, makes requests for information, uses e-mail or phone, and so on. Your employees live this brand every day but freelancers don’t have that luxury, so help them get up to speed quickly. When done successfully, this will that their work product and outcome will stay in line with your goals.

Potential ways to increase their understanding:

  • Provide a brief outline of company rules and norms.
  • Assign an internal “guide” to help freelancers to understand company culture and how navigate internally.
  • Define what values you prioritize.
  • Explain how they play a role in the company vision, and the overall impact of their work.

4. Encourage questions

Most of the experienced freelancers, especially the ones with 20+ years of experience, are quite independent and reliant on their own skills and knowledge. Because of this, they may shy away from asking questions or asking for help. But you must encourage them to feel free to reach out to you or anyone in your business, or projects may veer off course.

To promote the culture of asking questions, it is important to provide tools to freelancers to easily share what they are working on or what issues they are facing. Today many of us are familiar with the concept of “social sharing” where a simple interface allows us to post a question or share an update with our network.

Using similar tools within your extended team can save potential confusion and avoid wasted time required to correct errors. Easily accessible tools create a culture where asking questions and sound boarding are encouraged. Whether you are using Skype, e-mail or Almarelo’s tools, make it a part of your onboarding process to get your freelancers onto these platforms. Plan on monitoring how often they share their progress or ask questions. Low levels of activity may be early signs of a project not moving in the right direction. This will also help you communicate more efficiently with multiple freelancers.

In Summary

Well thought-out onboarding process doesn’t just make the project more successful for you, it’s also more enjoyable for the freelancer. In turn, their loyalty increases and they will be encouraged to give their best. Freelancers face a challenging balance of delivering a valuable work product, while working independently as an outsider. Almarelo tools can help you to make the engagement with freelancers successful from day one.

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