How to Work With Millennials: What Young Freelancers Want at Work

May 08, 2015 - Joe Matar
The economic downturn. Technology making it easier than ever to work from home in pajamas. Not settling for just any gig and wanting to do work you love. Getting tired of working for a boss and wanting to go it alone. It seems like everyone is a freelancer now – or wants to be one. In a 2014 study, The Freelancers Union found that Generation Y workers, also known as Millennials, are the demographic group most likely to label themselves as freelancers. It’s clear that Generation Y doesn’t want to be employed — at least, not in the traditional 9-to-5, daily grind, “park your seat in a cubicle and eat lunch in the cafeteria with coworkers” kind of way. You’ve read the countless articles on why it’s important to recruit and retain millennials. It’s no different when bringing on Gen Y freelancers to work in your company. But while the benefits are the same, there may be additional considerations to keep in mind when working with these young professionals. Here are a few ways that you can connect with the young freelancers that are cropping up around your office: (Click here to tweet this list of ideas.)

Give great feedback

More than any other group, Millennials yearn for meaningful connections in the workplace. A whopping 71 percent want their coworkers to be their second family. It’s always a good idea check in with your Generation Y contractors and give them a bit of feedback, mentorship and support. It will go a long way to motivate them and leave a lasting impression.

Embrace technology

Generation Y is naturally connected and tech-savvy. If you’re going to keep projects on track and communication flowing, they it’s essential that you use technology to stay in touch with your freelancers. Ask them what software they use to manage their work, time and communication flow. If they don’t use any apps or software, and your office isn’t already working with tools as part of your processes, then encourage them to check out many of the great freelance-oriented apps or tools on the market. They’ll thank you for the suggestion and it will only help your company in the end. They may end up recommending something that will help your team.

Ensure they know their impact

Generation Y wants to do work that matters. Whether it’s on a global scale or within your office space, they want to know that they are making a difference. When assigning work, make sure to go one step further and let them know what their contribution means. Is it additional sales? Improving processes? Helping to promote your company? Be sure to offer some insight into how valuable their work is to make sure freelancers are motivated and feel valued.

Respect their desire for work-life balance

This generation is all about having a healthy balance of work and play. The minute they’re boxed in, they’re off to greener pastures. Given the importance Generation Y puts on cultural fit, remember that your freelancers are likely to run if you try to force them into your 9-to-5 mold. Respect that they work a bit differently (maybe they’re up at 1 a.m. responding to emails or are working from a coffee shop) — but know that what matters is that they’re working hard and delivering the goods.

Treat them like the budding entrepreneurs they are

While they are technically working for you, do keep in mind that freelancers are entrepreneurs and have goals for themselves. They want to growing their businesses, keep networking, and make sure their businesses thrive. Make sure to connect young freelancers to contacts within your space in order to help them grow. Who knows when that Zuckerberg-like social media freelancer you brought in on contract is going to launch their own company, look back on your kindness, and return the favor. Are you working with a young freelancer (or team of millennial freelancers)? Do you have any great tips or hacks for working this this generation? Share them in the comments. Emojis are welcome! Donovan Janus is the founder and CEO of 17hats, a simple, yet powerful business management app for solopreneurs. The all-in-one system includes basic CRM, project management, calendaring, quotes, contracts, invoicing, time tracking, and bookkeeping.