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Research from LinkedIn and Intuit indicates the gig economy is here to stay. That's good news for most small businesses.
There's never been stronger freelance talent to choose from, in so many skill sets and professions, than today. If you own or manage a small business, you'd be hard-pressed to identify a need you couldn't fill with a freelancer. In this post, we explore a few ways small businesses can benefit from working with freelancers.
Explore all your options before filling a role
The Freelancers Union's annual report found that up to 55 million people this year – representing 35% of the total US workforce – are in the freelance workforce. The research anticipates a record 43% of the workforce taking part in the gig economy by 2020. LinkedIn's research also supports an increased supply of freelance hours:
The point is, you have access to skilled workers who are ready, willing, and able to fill a need without demanding a full-time role. That luxury wasn't available to the previous generation of small business owners and managers. So before going the traditional route of searching for a full-time employee to fill your staffing need, ask yourself, "Is this a need that may be better filled by a freelancer, or even multiple freelancers, versus a full-time employee?"
Be sure to hire for specific tasks and timeframes
Small businesses have traditionally asked their employees to tackle a variety of tasks, many of which sit outside the employee's core skill set. It's just part of the resourceful-by-necessity nature of small business. But learning on the fly is stressful and unforeseen work leads to long hours, which can affect job satisfaction and quality of work.
As small businesses embrace the gig economy, owners and managers can hire freelancers to take on specific scopes of work in specified timeframes. When you assign your contracted worker to a pressing short-term project, it eases the stress and workload of your staff. It also brings more flexibility and agility to your budgeting. When you need to scale up or down, your hiring can reflect that without the traditional overhead that comes with employees.
This dynamic works just as well for freelancers: in LinkedIn's research, 50% report being "highly satisfied" and another 17% "satisfied" with their lives in the "on-demand professional" marketplace.
Try out workers before offering a position
LinkedIn's research found that the average length of unemployment has more than doubled since 2000, from 12 weeks to 25 weeks. Longer spans of unemployment have flooded both the on-demand marketplace and the pool of applicants for every quality job.
So while many freelancers fiercely protect their independence, more are open to greater commitments with the right business. Many businesses are contracting freelancers as tryouts, of sorts, before offering them concrete positions. This allows a business not only to assess chemistry and quality, but also learn whether its need calls for the deeper commitment of adding to its staff.
Chat with a LinkedIn team member.