How to Provide Continuing Education for Your Freelancers
After high school, I wasn’t sure which path I would take in my career. So, I bounced between several different jobs until I figured things out. But actually, I was fired from a job because I expressed an interest in going back to school.
Did that mean I was ready to pack up and go on a traditional four-year program? No. He was open to anything. But, most companies believed it would leave them high and dry.
Years later, that still stuns me. Why wouldn’t you want your team to be as knowledgeable and knowledgeable as possible? I think that would give you an edge over your competitors while increasing your team’s productivity and engagement.
And while it may seem like they’re not part of your team, this should apply to your team of freelancers as well. I mean, by 2027, it is anticipated that there will be 86.5 million people working independently in the United States and they will make up 50.9 percent of the total United States workforce. So there is an excellent chance that you are becoming more and more dependent on freelancers.
Now, I know what you are thinking. So why are you obligated to provide continuing education to the self-employed? Well, it ensures that your skills will not become obsolete. As a result, they will be more effective and efficient.
Plus, this can keep them more empowered, motivated, and loyal to you. Why? Because it shows them that they are worth the investment, even if it means that they will eventually move on. And that’s the key to building a successful team of freelancers.
But how can you provide continuing education to your freelancers? Well here are five ways you can do that.
1. Give them the gift of reading.
As Dr. Seuss once wrote: “The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you go. “And truer words have never been said.
It has been found that reading;
- Strengthens the brain.
- Build vocabulary.
- Prevents cognitive decline.
- Reduce stress.
- Helps sleep.
- Increase empathy.
So how can you encourage your freelancers to read more often? Well, if your organization has a book club, you could invite them to join. Even if they reside in a different part of the country or the world, they could still participate virtually.
Other idea? Gift a monthly book membership with Book of the Month. You can give them a 3, 6, or 12 month plan. Each month they can select the book they want to read. If you want to do this for your entire freelance team, there is a group gifting option with BOTM.
2. Encourage them to keep their skills fresh.
The pace of technological advance has widened knowledge gaps in recent years. Research shows that a skill has a half-life of five years.
Why is that a problem? First, the employee retraining process is time consuming and resource intensive. Consequently, 3 out of 4 hiring managers are not convinced that hiring freelancers with the necessary skills is more efficient.
However, this is still good news for freelancers or independent contractors. It turns out that they are almost twice as likely to complete skills training in the last six months as employees.
But why not give them a head start to keep their skills fresh by giving them the gift of self-education through digital learning platforms?
Payment per course model.
This is arguably the preferred method for most online course markets. And, for good reason, it’s pretty straightforward. Courses are purchased by students as needed and are designed and organized by individuals or instructors. In some cases, students may receive a certificate of completion upon completion.
The major players in this field include Udemy, edX, and Udacity. Freelancers may find Udemy the most helpful, offering over 100,000 courses on every topic imaginable. Also, there is less time commitment and the course is theirs to stick with. And for its part, it is probably the most affordable option.
In essence, this is the Netflix model applied to e-learning, where in exchange for a monthly fee, students can access thousands of courses. Skillshare, Linkedin Learning, Pluralsight and Lynda are some of the best known options.
Most online platforms offer college-style courses, but that’s not the case with Skillshare. Instead, it’s more informal and aims to enhance creative skills like writing, graphic design, or photography. Currently, the monthly cost is $ 32 (or $ 168 if you pay a year in advance). But there are also many free classes to explore.
The vast majority of massive open online courses (MOOCs) are available to anyone. However, while most offers are free, some will require you to pay for accreditation. Additionally, MOOCs are often conducted in partnership with universities to provide real learning experiences.
Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy are perhaps the most popular MOOC platforms. Each has its pros and cons, which is why freelancers should pay attention to certifications when taking these courses. However, the quality of the content by training you in a specific skill is still valuable, even when none of them equate to actual titles.
3. Help them get certified.
There is no doubt that your freelancers are talented. After all, that’s why you hired them in the first place, right? However, if you want to help them build a stronger portfolio, earn more money, and stand out from other freelancers, help them get certified.
Instead of just buying a random certification course, ask them which certification they would benefit the most from. Ideally, this would be a course that helps them further expand their existing skills. But, you may want to recommend introductory business courses that can help them with everything from managing their expenses to negotiating rates.
4. Have them attend events in person.
“Although being self-employed is largely a lonely road, our research found that the most successful self-employed (17 of the top 20 earners) are those who harness the power of numbers,” note Ben Laker, Lebene Soga, Yemisi Bolade-Ogunfodun and Ashish Malik in HBR. So does this sound contrary to being a freelancer? Not exactly, as “going solo doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compete with others in your field.”
In summary, the authors state, “Cooperating with other freelancers is a strategic way to stay ahead.”
“Advantages we found include group learning, as well as the ability to share market intelligence and upcoming opportunities,” they add. “To excel in this type of group work, this is what our findings recommend”;
Get to know the key players in your line of work.
“Eighty-five percent of the most successful freelancers we spoke to were part of online communities and meetings,” they report. “This helped them get to know their potential pack hunters and even share potential jobs using game theory.”
For your part, suggest meaningful online communities or invite them to join invite-only communities. If you attend a local meeting and they reside near you, ask them to join you.
In addition, you can also offer to send them to conferences and seminars in person. In addition to learning new skills or perspectives, this also enables them to network face-to-face.
Build your tribe.
“We found that 65% of the freelancers who joined got repeat jobs from the same client,” the authors add. “This retention rate was three times higher on average than that of the self-employed who did not pack the game.”
From personal experience, it has been uncomfortable for me to ask clients for testimonials, reviews, and potential referrals. While it’s part of the freelance game, you can go ahead and provide this to them before they ask. However, as the proverb goes, “Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life.”
Provide suggestions for them to ask for professional testimonials, reviews, and referrals. You can also offer to review your proposals or correspondence to request testimonials.
Be visible in your community and establish your presence online.
Do you want other freelancers to find you? “A good way to start is by sharing information and learning from previous jobs online,” they suggest. “By doing so, you will be building social capital.”
Even if you’re not familiar with this first-hand, you can connect them with other freelancers to show them how to build a portfolio and network online.
5. Promote micro and nano learning.
With micro and nano learning, information is consumed in small chunks. Typically it lasts between 2 and 15 minutes and focuses on a learning objective. In this way, directed learning can be provided.
More importantly, this promotes “just-in-time” learning. That means your freelancers can access these learning resources when and where they prefer. Also, most of these materials are free or inexpensive, which is good for your wallet.
Some of the most common examples of micro-and-nano-learning include;
- Articles and white papers
- Software tutorials
- Youtube videos
For the options that are not free, you can opt for the paid option. For example, you can offer to pay for a premium Spotify account so that they can listen to the relevant podcasts. Or, you can cover their subscription to an industry publication that keeps them up-to-date on the latest trends or statistics.
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