EngagementWork for independence: how to engage your freelancer workforce

Work for independence: how to engage your freelancer workforce

You’ve got more in common with your freelance workforce than you might think. Independence. Ambition. Agility. Which creates a great opportunity for engaging them.

You’ve got more in common with your freelance workforce than you might think. Independence. Ambition. Agility. Which creates a great opportunity for engaging them. In this blog post, Kerri Hollis chats with Geraint Holliman to answer the question: How do you engage your workforce when your workforce doesn’t work for you?


It’s great being independent.

Liechtenstein gained independence in 1866. Before that, it had been a member of the German Confederation, presided over by the Emperor of Austria. So when the Austro-Prussian War kicked off that same year, Liechtenstein was still obliged to send its entire military – a total of 80 people – to go and fight.

The war didn’t last long. In fact, before Liechtenstein’s army could see battle, the war was over. Prussia beat Austria, and the German Confederation was broken up. Liechtenstein was made independent before its army could even return.

And when the soldiers did eventually arrive home, their number was 81. They’d picked up an Italian friend, eager to join the newly-independent country, along the way.

I suppose when you find something in common, even free agents can be convinced to join a bigger group.

It’s the same with freelancers and your business.

Freelancers are at the top of their game. They can work how, when, and where they like. The best of them can pick and choose between roles.

So how do you make sure they choose a role in your business?

What motivates a freelancer?

If you’re anything like Geraint Holliman, this is a question you’ll ask yourself regularly. Geraint is a serial business owner. For his businesses to run, he relies on freelancers. I sat down with him to get his unique take on engaging them.

He explains: “We have to work hard to not only sell to our clients, but to sell to our prospective workforce. We have to make it attractive to them.”

That means appealing to a freelancer’s sense of independence, ambition, and agility. So how do you do that?

Think back to the early days of your business. If you started it, why did you start it? If you joined in its early days, why did you join? To do things your way. To be at the top of your game. To work how, when, and where you liked.

You might recognise the independence, ambition, and agility of your freelance workforce – you possess it yourself. What Geraint has found is that business leaders and freelancers have more in common than they might think. When it comes to engaging your freelance workforce, that common ground is where you should start.

Independent ownership

“Employee engagement is how we, as an organisation, get the people that work with us to feel that they own part of [the organisation’s] success,” Geraint explains. “We think that owning part of the success of the business is something that motivates people; it gives people a clear sense of why they’re doing it.”

Remember, you’re not just buying their time or their skills. All employees, permanent or freelance, expect that they’ll be involved in the way a business works – beyond just doing the job that’s asked of them. For your freelancers to engage with your business, you need to treat them as you do your full time employees.

Give your freelancers access to the tools, resources, and information they need.

Invite them to work with and contribute to your culture and vision.

Tell them their deadline, and trust them to meet it how, where, and when they want.

Empower them with responsibility, and they’ll see you’re a business worth working with – a business that values independence as much as they do.

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