According to a recent study, 46% of Gen Z workers are now freelancers – and 73% of these are freelancing by choice due to the freedom and flexibility it gives them as opposed to traditional employment models.
Gen Z will make up around 27% of the global workforce by 2025. So if your company wants to recruit the best new talent around the globe, you need to know how to attract and manage this particular generation of independent professionals.
In this article we’re looking at how your organization can successfully retain Gen Z freelancers.
Who are Gen Z?
Generation Z (also known as Gen Z, or “Zoomers”) typically refers to people born in the mid to late 90s through to the early 2000s.
They’re the first generation to have grown up with digital devices and the internet – which means they’re more likely to be super tech savvy and feel deeply connected with the online world.
As such, Gen Z tend to be very particular about what they’re looking for in a job – and they’re well aware that there are boundless job opportunities out there, especially if they’re freelancing. This means if you’re not providing your Gen Z freelancers with what they need in a role, they won’t hesitate to quit for greener pastures.
This generation seeks more control over their work/life balance, more flexibility in their career, and more opportunities to grow and develop in their jobs – setting high standards for both themselves and their employers.
How To Manage Your Gen Z Freelancers
If you’re a tech company, employing Gen Z freelancers can be hugely beneficial if you know how to retain and manage them according to their specific set of needs.
Use remote work tools
Every generation of freelancers has preferences for how they like to work and communicate. While Boomers and Gen X prefer more “old school” methods – Gen Z loves new technology, and they use it for every aspect of work and socializing.
If your organization embraces tech tools, you’re already ahead of your competition when it comes to managing this generation of freelancers.
But if you’re still trying to do everything manually, it’s in your best interests to start investigating the range of software solutions out there that can streamline every aspect of working with younger contractors:
- Zoom: ideal for 1:1 or group video conferencing
- Figma: one of the best solutions out there for product design and remote collaboration
- Slack: pretty much a household name for asynchronous communication with your freelancers and employees
- Basecamp: the ultimate app for team project management
- Worksuite: lets you assign tasks and collaborate seamlessly with your Gen Z contractors from onboarding, to project management, to payment.
Speaking of payment – Gen Z prefers it when their work can be quickly invoiced, approved, and paid online, without back and forth emails and phone calls. Waiting weeks (or months) for payment makes them frustrated – and don’t even think about sending them a check in the mail!
Ensuring that payment is made swiftly after project completion is one of the best ways to keep your Gen Z freelancers happy.
Project management tools can help curb the dreaded micromanagement problems that can arise when you hire remote workers and contractors. This is especially important when you work with Gen Z freelancers.
Giving your Gen Zs autonomy over their tasks shows them that you’ve hired them for their skills and abilities to deliver great work. When you’re not hovering over them, it boosts their self-confidence and enables them to work without distraction. It also allows your managers to stop worrying about monitoring progress – freeing up time for them to focus on more important tasks.
Trust is a critical part of sidestepping micromanagement issues. Your Gen Z contractors will appreciate it if you build trust into your working relationship from the outset – allowing them to work independently without constantly “circling back” or “following up” on progress. Take steps to ensure that there’s a culture of trust established right from the moment of onboarding:
- Make sure your freelancers have a direct point of contact to reach out to with any questions or problems
- Make it clear that you’re available to provide help or guidance if they need it at any time
- Build positive relationships with each freelancer
- Establish open lines of communication with feedback and regular check-ins to discuss work, goals, problems – or simply have a chat
- Find ways to make your freelancers feel like part of your team
- Ensure that your freelancers maintain a workload that enables them to keep a healthy work/life balance
Encourage communication and feedback
While micromanagement can be stifling, lack of communication with your Gen Z freelancers can be a problem too. Ensure that you establish clear lines of communication between you and your contractors – even if it’s just setting them up in your company Slack channel and dropping them a casual message every now and then to see how things are going.
This gives your Gen Zs the opportunity to bring up any issues, concerns or other comments in a casual environment, rather than scheduling formal, time-consuming meetings with them.
You could also send out regular surveys or emails asking for feedback on work-related things – which can encourage your Gen Zs to voice their opinions. Giving these freelancers the chance to be heard helps them to feel included and valued, which is great for motivation – and retention.
Create a positive company culture
Your Gen Z freelancers are keen to make an impact with their employers. They like to feel that they’re being listened to, valued, and respected for their skills and who they are – which is the key to unlocking their productivity and ensuring they deliver top quality work.
Find ways to encourage them in their roles, and reward them when they go above and beyond what was expected of them.
Here are some ways you can promote a culture of positivity in your organization to help your Gen Z freelancers thrive:
- Create an onboarding manual that makes your company culture and values clear for new freelancers
- Set realistic goals
- Prioritize respect, inclusion, fairness, and understanding
- Allow for humor and a sense of fun
Remember that you need to be authentic and transparent about your company culture wherever you show up online.
When Gen Zs are looking to apply for roles, rest assured they will Google your company, as well as check out your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts – and maybe even scope out your Glassdoor employee reviews to see what it’s like to work for you before they say “yes”.
Make mental health and wellness a priority
Like most of us, Gen Zs can get stressed out easily with all the usual pressures of work, life, and money. This can take a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing, and reduce their motivation and productivity.
This generation appreciates an employer that understands the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Steps you can take to promote this might include:
- Making sure your freelancers aren’t too overloaded with work
- Checking in to see that they have everything they need to get work done
- Making their briefs and goals clear
- Setting realistic time frames for delivery of work
- Giving them the flexibility to work where and when it suits them best
- Establishing a sense of community and belonging
- Treating your freelancers with the same level of concern for wellness as your full time employees
Make it clear to your freelancers that it’s okay to speak up if they’re feeling stressed or overloaded at any time. This shows your concern and understanding as an employer, and can help you prevent freelancer burnout and project breakdowns before they happen.
Promote workplace inclusion and diversity
Your Gen Z freelancers are likely to be more diverse in every way than older generations – especially if you’re hiring global freelancers. If you promote diversity in your company, you’re more likely to attract the top global talent for every freelance role you advertise.
Gen Zs are comfortable, and indeed often have a preference for, working in companies where there’s diversity in employees that covers a wide range of racial, sexual, and religious orientiations, and educational, cultural, and neurodiverse backgrounds.
This helps them feel more comfortable and open about showing up to work as themselves – which in turn means they won’t feel stifled when it comes to communicating, meeting, and working with your teams.
Allow for job flexibility
Since the pandemic, more than half of employees globally say they would quit their jobs if they’re not provided with job flexibility.
For Gen Z especially, it’s important that any role they accept offers them opportunities for things like flexible working hours, four day work weeks, and the ability to work from anywhere in the world if they choose to.
This generation is particularly interested in pursuing remote work and a digital nomad lifestyle. It’s estimated that over one billion people will identify as digital nomads by 2035 – so any employer hiring Gen Z freelancers needs to be understanding of their need and ability to work from various different countries and time zones if they so choose.
And if your Gen Zs have family responsibilities, make sure you don’t overload them with so many deliverables and deadlines that it gets in the way of their personal needs.
Providing flexibility in your workplace can help you attract and retain the best freelance candidates for your roles. A recent study revealed that four out of five remote workers with inflexible schedules were looking to leave their current job.
So if you’re keen to retain your top Gen Z talent, you need to look for ways to provide the types of flexibility they need to maintain job satisfaction.
Offer opportunities for career growth and development
Opportunities for growth should be presented in any workplace, but it’s especially important to Generation Z. They need to feel that any company they choose to work for can give them the growth and development they seek to advance in their career.
Finding ways to expand and strengthen the skillsets of your Gen Z freelancers shows them that you’re interested in their career goals, which can boost their self confidence – and their desire to continue working with you.
In Summary – Managing Your Gen Z Freelancers
Despite Gen Z being among the youngest freelancers out there – they have a ton of value and expertise to offer their employers.
As the remote work movement continues to grow, Gen Z is well aware that there are ample opportunities for them to pick and choose who they work for to help them reach their personal and professional goals – so it’s in your best interests to understand what they’re looking for, and how to provide that as an employer.
Organizations that are tech savvy, with a great working culture, diversity in their existing employees, and a core focus on workplace flexibility and wellness will be the ones that can hire and retain the best global Gen Z talent.