Did you know that Gen Z workers will make up 30% of the workforce by 2030? And these children of the gig economy are more motivated to go freelance than any other generation before.
According to a 2019 report, more than 50% of workers between the ages of 18 and 22 had at least some freelance gigs – and this tendency is here to stay.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Gen Z freelancers are a mighty crowd. And if you and your business outsource some of your working tasks to freelance workers, chances are you will collaborate with Zoomers more in the following years.
How should you approach this partnership? Are there any specific collaboration and communication tactics you should employ?
This article will guide you through the 6 tips to work with Gen Z freelancers in an effective, mutually beneficial way.
Who are Gen Z?
Let’s start with getting to know Gen Z.
By Ge Z we understand the people born in the period between 1995 and 2012. While this generation overlaps with Millenials before them, Zoomers are different from older people in many ways:
- They are much less conservative and more open-minded;
- They are the first generation that grew up in the digital era;
- They are concerned about non-material issues such as climate change and equality;
- They are an entrepreneur generation – 42% of Zoomers say they’d like to have their own business in the future.
Even more curiously, Gen Z seems to be less interested in traditional 9 to 5 jobs. According to an Upwork study from 2017, Zoomers turn to freelance instead of pursuing corporate positions more than any other generation – and this is a conscious choice.
Bottom line: freedom of choice and flexibility are key for Gen Zers, and it is reflected in their career aspirations.
Why Hire Gen Z Freelancers?
Since Gen Z are gig workers whose number is growing by the day, you might eventually face the perspective of choosing between a Gen Z freelancer and another freelance worker.
Why hire a Zoomer? There are plenty of reasons:
Gen Z freelancers are tech-savvy. This generation feels at home online, knows how to make the most of computer and smartphone software, and loves tech stuff in all forms. And they use this knowledge and familiarity to make their work more efficient;
They learn quickly. If growing up and living under the constant “information attack” means something, it is that Gen Z are quick to adapt, navigate, and learn new information and skills. Moreover, if you can provide them training videos;
They are independent. Nearly 50% of Gen Z freelancers enjoy having flexible schedules. On top of that, 36% want to be their own boss. The picture is crystal clear – these are young professionals who prioritize independence and don’t need to be micro-managed to do their job well;
They are ready to commit. Many Gen Z freelancers prioritize long-term projects that can grow into a full-time career path at a company.
How to Collaborate With Gen Z Freelancers Effectively?
Now that you have a clearer picture of who Gen Z freelancers are and why hiring them is beneficial for your business, let’s go through the 6 ways to make this collaboration effective.
1. Leverage Freelance Job Platforms
One of the best ways to find and collaborate with Gen Z freelancers is to use freelance job platforms such as goLance.
Gen Z know their way around the web, and they inhabit freelance job-seeking platforms in large numbers – that’s where you can look for top young talent and hire any type of professional you might need for your project or business.
Search across various skill categories, price ranges, and expertise levels. Gen Z freelancers work in almost every field, including tech, marketing, design, content writing, etc.
Pro-tip: once you’ve found your top Gen Z candidate on a freelance platform, a good idea is to give them a paid test project. This will give both the freelancer and you the idea of what form your collaboration will take. Besides, you can test the candidate’s skills and see whether they’re a good fit.
If you want to expand your search for Gen Z talent beyond job-seeking platforms, a great idea is to explore networking. You can find both aspiring and experienced Gen Z freelancers by following their online activity and appearances, including:
- Project spotlights;
- Blog and social media posts and entries;
- References from other professionals, etc.
Zoomers are a responsive, sociable crowd – do not hesitate to get in touch with the freelancer of interest and ask them if they are open to professional collaboration. They will appreciate your enthusiasm.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Gen Z freelancers are very goal-oriented workers. That’s why if you want to ensure effective collaboration, setting clear expectations is key.
When you onboard your freelancer, provide as much relevant information about the project as possible, including:
- The goal of the project and its expected outcomes;
- The freelancer’s role in the project;
- The scope of work your Gen Z hire needs to complete;
- The main deliverables;
- The timeline for every project milestone;
- The necessary working tools and services;
- Your communication/feedback mode and preferred communication channels.
Discussing and agreeing on these aspects of the freelancer’s work in advance will ensure a seamless onboarding process for the young hire.
An extra piece of advice: give the freelancer some time to adapt and adjust. Provide them with lead-in time for a new project. Chances are, it is your Gen Z hire’s first gig – so help them set up everything on their end to facilitate effective workflow.
3. Be Flexible
Gen Z employees – freelancers included – prioritize a healthy work/life balance. So don’t expect your Gen Z freelancer to abandon their social and personal life for the sake of your project.
Here is what Elisa Silverman, a skilled “full-time” freelancer, says about what flexibility means to young gig workers:
“We like being able to choose to work with people mostly because we think they're really wonderful or what they're doing is really wonderful, and choose not to work with people who get aggressive if we don't reply to an email within ten minutes.”
In other words, Gen Z freelancers are ready to commit to your project – but they need to have a degree of independence and self-management to be able to be productive.
In order to provide the right environment for your young hire, offer them flexible working conditions that will satisfy both parties. For example, you can:
Ask the freelancer to map out the strategy for their work based on your requirements and timeline. You will have a better understanding of their workflow and know when to expect the deliverables;
Agree on contact hours and the freelancer’s availability terms in advance. Don’t expect your Gen Z hire to get back to you within minutes outside those agreed time slots;
Set up a separate freelancer workflow for your hire. Even if they are working on an essential component of your project, remember – they are not your full-time employees. Spare them the daily calls, unnecessary reports, etc.
Naturally, you can expect the same flexibility on the part of the freelancer. So let them know if you might request something extra along the way, including revisions, additions, or new tasks/services. Gen Z freelancers are usually open to expanding their scope of work if you provide due compensation and timely guidelines.
4. Leverage New Technology
Zoomers are the digital generation, remember?
And collaborating with a Gen Z is a great way to make use of the latest technology and optimize your workflow.
When hiring young talent for your project, discuss the software/ communication platforms they use in their work. Chances are, they are already familiar with the software you’re using at your company – this match will allow you to accelerate freelancer onboarding.
Even if your chosen Gen Z freelancer is not familiar with the apps or services you frequently use, no worries – they learn fast and will be thankful to you for introducing them to new work tools.
Finally, you might even learn something new from your Gen Z freelancer. Perhaps they are using a great new collaboration app or business tool you were not aware of.
5. Treat Them as Equals
Did you notice that we used the word “collaborate” in our title when talking about hiring Gen Z freelancers? We had a good reason.
Young freelance workers choose collaborations over working relations based on rigid subordination. In other words, they don’t really want a boss – ideally, they want a partner.
How can you keep the balance between acting on your managerial authority and treating your Gen Z freelancer correctly?
The simple answer is respect.
Recognize their expertise in the field and let them know you trust their judgment when it comes to work-related decisions. The freelancer will respond to this attitude with commitment, dedication, and responsibility. On top of that, they will feel more confident in their skills, which is a great motivator for a young professional.
Of course, it does not mean you should pat the Gen Z freelancer on the shoulder even if they did something wrong. Give constructive criticism and detailed feedback whenever it is necessary. Zoomer workers are eager to learn and improve – they will value your input and do everything to correct their mistakes along the way.
6. Communicate Openly
Did you know that 23% of Gen Z workers think that texting – often informal – is a crucial part of work-related communication? This generation is all about direct, to-the-point interaction with their team and managers. You can leverage this communicative feature to facilitate effective collaboration with Gen Z freelancers.
Don’t think too much about professional communication cliches – no need for formal language. Zoomers are much more laid back when it comes to wording your requests and feedback;
Use messengers instead of emails. This is a faster communication channel that gives you more flexibility;
Don’t sugarcoat criticism. We have already mentioned it in point 5 – be straightforward (yet respectful) with your feedback, whether it is positive or negative.
In other words, communicate with your Gen Z freelancer in an open and informal manner. It will make your collaboration not only more efficient but also more pleasant.
Gen Z freelancers are active, motivated, independent, and skilled workers who strive to provide quality for your projects.
To collaborate effectively with Gen Z gig workers, leverage their strengths – open-mindedness, tech savvy, independence, and flexibility. And of course, learn to trust their skills and expertise despite their young age. Gen Z is sure to bring value to the labor market for the years to come.
David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.