How to keep your best freelancers working for you!

By Tayo Leigh

 22 Jun 2016     Comments

There is currently a movement globally which is challenging the normal recruitment and employment model. I’d love to say it is SHORTLIST Nigeria but we’re not quite at that scale yet! The change is happening in a more fundamental way, as employers and employees become much savvier about their options, more mobile in their working environments, and more aware of the economics of employment.

Forbes has previously suggested that the US workforce could see a rise in the Freelance workforce from 34% in 2014 to 50% of the working population by 2020. In the UK, the skills shortage there is forcing employers to hire many more on short-term contracts. Different countries, different demographics sure, but as the internet and the mobile phone take an even greater hold of Nigeria, the likelihood is that more of us will need to hire a contractor or freelancer at some point. So how can we get the best out of them, and how can we keep hold of them so they don’t end up taking our ideas to the competition?

Money + completion bonus

Let’s be honest. One of the main reasons someone begins contracting is because they believe that they can earn more money. I’ve worked with numerous contractors who have a firmly held belief in their worth, and are adamant about achieving that number. This means that there is a risk of their head being turned by a better offer, which is where a lucrative completion bonus can come in handy. This needs to be more than just an extra weeks pay, but can either be a timed completion, or set to the completion of a project or outcome.


Given the often mercenary perception of the contractor motivations, loyalty as a retention tool can often be overlooked. Although contractors often do not receive the same rights as employees, making them feel valued and included in discussions, meetings, and social occasions can increase the amount that they identify with the business, their performance levels and their desire to stick around.

Career development

Similar to the above, but actually taking the time out to find out what else a high-performing freelancer is interested in, and finding ways to offer it can improve the longevity of the working relationship.


One of the most important and effective ways of securing your intellectual property and commercial initiatives is to ensure that a Non-Disclosure Agreement is signed by both parties. This is a legally binding document that does what it says on the tin. There can be a slightly heavy-handed tinge to raising the spectre of an NDA as a trust issue, but if raised in the correct manner, it can be a valuable tool.

Contractors and freelancers are always going to move about, but these simple tips can make holding on to them (as long as you need to) easier, and more effective. And if they leave, give at try to find a replacement quickly and cheaply.

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