Freelancing has caught on like wildfire. The gig economy is rising, and it's a small wonder. More and more young workers value the flexibility and career freedom that comes with going solo. In fact, recent studies show that as many as 53% of Gen Z opt to freelance when the possibility presents itself.
More importantly, by 2025, Gen Z will comprise a whopping 25% of the workforce.
The moral of the story: Businesses need to learn how to work on Gen Z's terms.
With that said, how can you attract top Gen Z freelancers to your project? More importantly, how do you maintain good relationships with these independent professionals?
Keep reading for the answers to those exact questions. This article will examine everything you need to know about managing Gen Z freelancers.
There's lots to chat about, so grab a brew, and let's hop to it!
Who is Gen Z?
First things first, let's establish who Gen Z actually is:
Gen Z is an umbrella term for those born between 1997 and 2012, making them, at the time of writing, 10-25 years old.
Gen Z's upper age bracket is starting to enter the job market in a big way, while others are considering what they want to do with their future. This generation was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic during a formative stage of their lives. As such, many of their values have been shaped by the crisis.
From the cost of living crisis and the increasing impact of climate change, it's safe to say Gen Z has inherited a chaotic world. As a result, many of them acknowledge that their future will present challenges. With so much uncertainty, it's not surprising that mental health is a huge talking point for this young generation.
Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that Gen Z values the freedom and better work-life balance that often comes with freelancing. Not only does this empower them to feel more in control of their lives, but studies suggest that remote working positively impacts mental health. For example, one survey reported that 97% of people said a flexible position would 'have a “huge” or “positive” impact on their quality of life.'
Of course, thanks to the pandemic, remote working became increasingly popular just as Gen Z was starting to become working professionals. As such, flexibility isn't something that employers can do away with if they want to attract Gen Z freelancers.
What Tools Do You Need to Work With Gen Z Freelancers?
The nature of freelancing itself has changed over the years. For example, it's no longer common for freelancers to come into your office for the project's duration and work side by side with your team.
Instead, Gen Z expects to be able to work at least some of the time remotely. As such, your company will need the right infrastructure to facilitate this.
Gen Z loves technology. As digital natives, they quickly pick up new software and rely on tech to support and manage both their work and personal lives.
With that said, below, we've listed a few tools that may come in handy when working with freelancers:
Video conferencing software like Zoom
Team collaboration tools like Google Docs or Figma
A remote task management tool like Basecamp or Asana
Communication tools like Slack to enable your in-house team and freelancers to interact seamlessly throughout the day.
And it is needless to say they will want to use a platform to manage all their admin as a freelancer, such as a freelance management system.
Arguably, this list's latter is the most important. It's the easiest way to manage freelancers remotely. Bubty enables you to onboard, manage, communicate, schedule milestones and deadlines, and arrange payment schedules while complying with tax regulations, all from the convenience of one solution.
While we're on the topic of payment schedules, it's worth highlighting that you must use a solution that complies with tax regulations and permits you to pay remote freelancers on time. Understandably, ensuring swift payment is one of the best ways to stay on good terms with your Gen Z freelancers!
How to Manage Gen Z Freelancers
To grow a fruitful relationship with Gen Z freelancers, you need to understand what they value in a freelance collaboration. So, below we've listed a few essential best practices to keep in mind:
Be Mindful of Mental Health
One of the reasons freelancing is so popular amongst Gen Z is because it allows them to focus on their mental health. Gen Z wants you to care about them as people, not just as workers. Therefore, businesses should aim to understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance.
If you're unsure where to begin, below are a few things you can do to establish a more positive approach to mental health:
Afford freelancers the same concern for their wellness as you would full-time employees
Don’t overload freelancers with unrealistic deadlines
Check-in to ensure freelancers have everything they need to complete their work smoothly.
Make briefs and goals clear early on to avoid stress in the lead-up to a deadline.
Give them the flexibility to work when it suits them best.
Don’t force freelancers to come into the office when they don't need to
Foster a sense of community and belonging - a group Slack thread is an excellent place to start.
Encourage Open Communication and Feedback
Gen Z doesn’t appreciate being micro-managed. But, as we've already discussed, part of freelancing's appeal is the freedom to work when and how you want to strike the right work/life balance.
However, communication remains vastly essential.
By this, we mean establishing clear, open lines of communication early on. This could be via a messaging service like Slack or your chosen freelancer platform. Whatever you decide, just be sure to give freelancers a specific point of contact, so they know who to reach out to with questions. It's also important to emphasize from the get-go that you're available to provide help or guidance. That way, your freelancer won't feel stranded if a query arises.
On top of that, it's a good idea to send a simple message every now and again to check in on how things are going. This could include an invitation for freelancers to provide feedback about the project/collaboration, including any issues they have. This presents the perfect opportunity for tackling problems early, ensuring your professionals have everything they need to stay on track.
Occasional, informal messages are often more comfortable than formally scheduled meetings. It’s also much quicker to drop a simple message than to arrange a call - which usually works in everyone's favor!
Let Your Company Culture Shine Throughout The Collaboration
Just because Gen Z freelancers aren’t spending as much time (if any) in your office doesn’t mean your company culture doesn’t matter to them. Gen Z often selects their employers based on the company’s culture and values. Interestingly, in one study, 69% would “absolutely” be more likely to want to work for an organization that highlighted a "racially and ethnically diverse workplace" in their recruitment materials.
Needless to say, your workplace culture will affect your approach to freelance collaboration. Positive company culture will ensure freelancers feel listened to, valued, and respected. This extends to finding ways to encourage and support freelancers in their work while letting them participate in your company’s cultural experience as much (or as little) as they wish.
Here are a few ideas to help with this:
Do you ever have after-work drinks? Are you hosting a leaving do? Be sure to include freelancers in the social side of your business.
Create onboarding manuals that highlight your company culture and values to freelancers so that they know what to expect
Prioritize respect, inclusion, and fairness
Allow for humor and fun.
Value freelancers as people. When you’re collaborating remotely, it’s easy to hone in only on work-related conversations. Instead, make time to get to know freelancers. This is also an excellent opportunity to provide insight into your company’s personality and strengthen your employer brand - win-win!
Offer Opportunities for Career Growth
There’s a good chance that Gen Z freelancers won’t stay with your company long enough to benefit from promotions and upskilling opportunities. But career growth is essential to Gen Z. In fact, in one study, as many as 64% of Gen Z said “opportunity for career growth” was their top priority.
So, needless to say, companies that present freelancers with possibilities for career growth immediately win an edge. So, if you can, try to provide opportunities for freelancers to strengthen their skillset. This demonstrates an interest in their career goals, which, in turn, should inspire loyalty, which is all the more important for establishing a long-term relationship with your freelancers.
Promote Diversity and Inclusivity
As many as 77% of Gen Z consider it essential to work for a company that cares about diversity and inclusion - freelancers are no exception! Not only will this make you a more attractive employer to the conscientious Gen Z workforce, but you’ll also benefit from a broader range of perspectives that can enrich product development. Demonstrating inclusivity also ensures that freelancers of all backgrounds feel comfortable working with you, which, in turn, should lead to a closer, more productive relationship.
Are You Ready to Welcome Gen Z Freelancers to Your Team?
By 2035, over one billion professionals will consider themselves digital nomads. The traditional office workforce is changing to accommodate global talent and flexible schedules. Whether you want to attract Gen Z freelancers or adapt to this new paradigm, the practices discussed above will stear you in the right direction.
To get things off to a good start with your Gen Z freelancers, choose a powerful freelancer management platform like Bubty. This software allows you to streamline onboarding, collaboration, and payments to ensure a solid foundation with your freelance team. Interested? Book a demo today!