Freelancers are a great way to hire specialists on a temporary basis while saving your company money. But, you need to be fully aware of common freelancer ethics problems.
Working with freelancers successfully means knowing how to recognize ethical issues and fight them. This helps protect both you and the freelancer.
Ensuring a Time Commitment
Freelancers often work with multiple clients at a time. This means you don’t know for certain if your freelancer is spending enough time on your project. For instance, the freelancer might agree to 10 hours a week and charge you for that, but they only work three hours.
Typically, the quality of work speaks for itself. Lower quality work either means a highly inexperienced freelancer or they rushed the job at the last minute.
If you suspect this, call the freelancer to discuss the issue. Some employers even create web portals for the freelancer to login and perform their tasks. The portal tracks active and inactive time to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
Lies About Experience
One of the most common freelancer ethics problems is lies about their experience. Yes, a freelancer might say they’ve worked as a social media marketer for 15 years, but their only real experience is posting updates about their day on Instagram.
Fight this issue by always asking for samples and/or references. Most reputable freelancers have a portfolio or a few reliable references to provide upon request.
It’s not uncommon for freelancers to simply disappear. They start a project, decide it’s not right for them and just move on without contacting you. This leaves your business stranded. When it comes to freelancer ethics problems, this can be one of the more frustrating. After all, you’ve spent valuable time searching for the right person.
Fight this by requiring regular communication and check-ins. You can assign an employee to keep track of the project. If a check-in is missed, any contract you might have is now void and you can fire the freelancer. If a freelancer won’t agree to regularly contact, it’s a red-flag and you should hire someone else.
The last thing you want is your company’s sensitive data landing in the hands of the competition. One of the worst and most dangerous freelancer ethics problems is sharing information freely with other clients. A freelancer might work on a project for you, get hired by the competition and submit a nearly identical project. This means the competition is benefiting from what should be exclusive to you.
Since the freelance is just out to get paid, they have no loyalty to your company. The best way to fight this is to protect yourself with a detailed contract, including an NDA. If it’s breached, then you have the legal right to take the freelancer to court.
Abiding By Your Ethics
Depending on the type of project a freelancer is working on, you may need to provide them with ethics training. For instance, if they’re creating blog content or working closely with your in-house team, they need to abide by the same ethics as any of your employees. This protects employees, the freelancer and your company’s reputation.
If a freelancer does cause issues for your employees or they notice anything unusual, encourage them to report the freelancer to your ethics hotline just like they would any other employee.