How do we support our freelancers in times of corona?
Freelancers are a significant and growing part of the labour market. There are currently about 400,000 of them in Belgium, active in various industries. More and more companies are counting on their talents.
The importance of a good relationship is evident during the current crisis. The status of freelancer is being re-examined - by their clients but also by themselves. Which aspects ensure a good relationship between freelancers and the companies to which they are affiliated?
At AUSY, we’re also trying to perform this difficult balancing act. During the corona crisis, we are constantly trying to offer our freelancers some stability. The goal? To help the freelancers when needed and protect them where possible!
Freelance: more than just a financial decision
In order to answer the question of how to strengthen the mutual bond between freelancers and companies, we must return to the essence: why does someone become a freelancer?
Freelancers have made a well-thought-out choice and there are many reasons why they opted for this status. Reasons that go far beyond the fiscal aspect. Freedom in particular seems to be the key word.
The freedom to go all out for the most interesting projects. The freedom to push your career in a certain direction. And the freedom to align your work schedule with your private life.
Geert is a freelance payroll consultant via AUSY. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret at all: “I wanted to share my payroll and HR knowledge and experience with various clients, who could simultaneously be a better source of inspiration for further growth within these industries."
Erwin, who works at AUSY as a quality specialist, also opted for a freelance career: "I see that this move has had a positive impact on my work-life balance."
But doesn't this freedom turn into uncertainty during the current corona crisis?
It is undeniable that the current situation’s uncertainty has a bigger impact on someone working project-based than on the average employee. "My contract was terminated from one day to the next due to force majeure. I can keep myself busy for the next few weeks, but after that I’m uncertain and slightly scared about what the future will bring," says Sandra, freelance HR consultant via AUSY.
Gerbrand is our freelance CFO. He agrees that there are currently more disadvantages than advantages to the freelance status, but also states that this is an inevitable part of the deal: "Freelancers are looking for substance. If you want to continuously improve yourself within your field, do pioneering work and learn, the step to self-employment is quickly made. The uncertainty is part of it because you’re drawing strength from taking your fate into your own hands."
Freelancers take matters into their own hands
The current crisis will bring about changes in the world of freelancing, although according to Geert, that won’t necessarily be negative: “We need to take advantage of this crisis to think about how we can come out of this stronger. Until now, the inflow of assignments was rather steady, but now the freelancer will have to take more initiative. Freelancers will need to think about how to raise their profile in the market, how to expand their offer, which channels they want to use, and so on. More than ever, we will be responsible for taking initiative and for our future! "
Sandra can confirm. She didn't sulk and immediately called upon her network. "I contacted former clients and made myself known to interesting companies which I had previously never contacted. I know that there are hardly any vacancies at the moment, but I still want to put myself in the spotlight.”
Post-corona: more attention to the needs of freelancers?
Freelancers should not be the only ones taking the first step. Companies can also do more to set up sustainable collaborations with freelancers.
The time has come to let freelancers know that they can also count on the companies. This trend has been visible in the market for some time, but will definitely increase after the corona crisis.
"The status of freelancer has become much more mature in recent years and much more embedded in the labour market. As a result, a lot more is possible today." - Gerbrand, CFO
We shouldn't just focus on the capabilities of the self-employed, but also on their relationship with clients. The relations have changed. In the ongoing war for talent, the freelancers play a vital role. If a company wants to continue to attract specialised talents, this will have to be balanced by more than financial optimisation.
App specifically for freelancers
AUSY closely follows the changing labour market. More and more attention is being paid to meeting the needs of freelancers. Currently, this is being carried to extremes. But even when the times are challenging, it is still important to extend your hand and offer support where possible.
When you've built a bond with your freelancers, you don't want to ruin it, even in uncertain times. This is why we did not postpone our payment terms, something that other companies quickly do in uncertain times like these.
The Indipendi app, designed specifically for freelancers, was also launched last year. It was developed with the specific needs of freelancers in mind and it offers them discounts, training courses and open projects. Now we're focusing on this even more. The most important elements? Ensuring an even wider influx of new projects, but also helping to protect them.
Corona has also changed the insurance needs of freelancers
This demonstrates that it is definitely necessary to focus even more on protecting freelancers via the Indipendi app. Insurance broker Van Dessel, which also offers a deal in the app, is currently seeing an increase in freelancer queries.
Account Manager Paul: "Everyone is currently confronted with risks, more specifically those that are not automatically covered when you are self-employed. For example, we're seeing a sudden increase in death insurance cover."
This crisis will be an important driver in the insurance behaviour of freelancers. "The vast majority of companies oblige their freelancers to take out certain insurances, mainly liability insurance," confirms insurance broker Jeroen Van Dessel.
But apart from that, things are not always as they should be. And freelancer Erwin is aware of this: “Not enough freelancers think about the dangers of an independent existence. As a freelancer, you have to make sure that everything is in place to protect yourself, and these are often the rather boring tasks that are thus postponed."
It is therefore important to make it easier for freelancers to protect themselves. Adapted insurance packages that include all essential cover play a major role in this. And they will become even more important in the future. That seems to be almost certain.
Will the post-corona era bring good news for freelancers?
The corona crisis is tough for freelancers and exposes certain obstacles in the world of freelancing. But every crisis also offers new opportunities. Now more than ever, it is time the time to focus on strengthening the bond between companies and freelancers.
It is true that creating more concessions for freelancers will require additional efforts from companies. But it will undoubtedly be a profitable investment in the long term.
One thing's for sure: AUSY will continue on the same track, supporting and motivating all of its talents. Because they're worth it more than ever.