The nature of the workplace is shifting thanks to the rise of gig economy culture. Employers of all sizes, and entrepreneurs seeking project-based or temporary staff, are fueling this change. As a hiring manager, it’s great to find talent to pitch in as freelancers, but at what cost?
Small business people often make the same mistakes. Overworked managers hire people who have the right skills and qualifications, but these freelancers don’t know how your business does business, and that can cause problems. While many of your flexible workers can operate effectively and follow industry best-practices, you can wind up with a hodgepodge of approaches and unpredictable outputs. To avoid this, one of your first steps, should be to put written SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place. Don’t leave to chance how work gets done in your business…
- Define your SOP. Before you can even figure out what type of freelancers you need, make sure that your SOP is concrete and easy to communicate. Going through the process of hiring a freelancer only to leave them hanging when they can’t get a handle on how your business accomplishes tasks won’t make the hiring process worth it. By having clear, written SOPs, you’re not only ensuring the ease in the process of hiring freelancers, but also creating a work environment that your salaried employees will appreciate, too.
- Create a plan. Do you need help writing content? Building a website? Pin down exactly what services you need help with and what areas you’d be comfortable handing over to someone who’s unfamiliar with your business. Compose a detailed description of the project and qualifications needed to handle that project.
- Have written SOP in place. When training isn’t consistent, simple mistakes happen that affect productivity. Your employees, both freelance and salaried, should be able to reference set-in-stone documentation that details your company’s procedures. If you work in a regulated industry, you’ll want to make sure your company always is in compliance – prevent fatal errors before they happen by having written protocol and encourage your employees to reference them regularly.
- Make sure your written SOP makes expectations clear. The right SOP is one that helps each staff member have a clear picture of how projects should be completed, improving job performance and reducing errors. If your SOP is clear, your freelancers should have no problem jumping in where they are needed. Encourage employees to follow up for verbal direction if they have questions.
- Perform a test. A risk assessment test of your SOP should be performed before it is put into place. This way, you’ll have an idea of how clear and concise your SOP is, how it might be understood by prospective employees, and any updates that should be enacted to ensure efficiency.
- Use SOP to scale operations. You’ll know your SOP is strong when workload can be easily distributed and communication is encouraged. Your freelancer should be able to jump in at any stage in the process and contribute to the workload as readily as a salaried employee.
- Review your SOP regularly. At least once each year, you and other members of your management team should meet to review the company’s current SOP. Did problems arise in the past that should be clarified in the written SOP? Have industry standards changed enough that updates should be reflected in your SOP? Are your employees having trouble completing assigned tasks? Allow for a feedback loop, salaried and flexible staff should be provided with a mechanism to bring necessary changes to management, and to suggest improvements. Whether originated from the top down or suggested from the bottom up, communicate any changes made to the SOP to your team by keeping a repository of current SOPs available to your entire team.
While throwing freelance workers at a business challenge is fine and lot of companies do it, those businesses that want to scale operations will encounter great challenges to scale without replicable, written Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) along with processes that allow those SOPs to evolve.