As a provider of high-quality localized content in over 500 language combinations, AMPLEXOR relies on carefully selected freelance linguistic experts. Use of external vendors allows for more flexibility and effectiveness in project management, but keeping them motivated is crucial for maintaining first-class, uninterrupted and timely delivery of services to our clients.
Follow my thoughts and findings on the subject through my experience as Vendor Manager at AMPLEXOR International, specializing in resourcing, negotiation, process optimization and recruitment of freelance language specialists for 8 target languages, and find out how (im)possible this mission is.
Project Managers, HR Managers and Vendor Managers are continuously looking for ways to enhance cooperation and increase engagement of our freelancer pool. Below are two steps to build motivation strategies in a way that suit freelancers:
Reasons for becoming a freelancer vary greatly and include the will to have more freedom, independence and mobility, an opportunity for higher income or personal fulfilment. According to experts, freelancers can be categorized into the following types:
- Temporary freelancers – those who combine freelancing with studies or job searching, usually only for a short period of time.
- Cautious freelancers – those who have a full-time job and freelance as an additional income source. Their freelance work is usually part-time and they value economic stability.
- Forced freelancers – those who work as freelancers due to circumstances (i.e. health, family, unemployment). When given the opportunity to switch to a permanent position, they are likely to take advantage of it.
- Committed freelancers – those who work as freelancers full-time as their only source of income. They are usually unwilling to switch to a permanent position.
Your motivation strategy should depend on the type of freelancer with which you are working. The first three types (Temporary, Cautious and Forced) are largely motivated by financial compensation, whereas Committed freelancers can be motivated through alternative methods.
AMPLEXOR monitors our freelance motivation strategy regularly and we have defined five major motivation factors or needs.
2.1. Financial compensation
Freelancers can value financial compensation differently, such as monthly income, fairness of rates and timeliness and reliability of payments.
Pricing can be a difficult issue as it can be limited by project budgets, but freelancers expect to be fairly paid for their work. For committed professionals, their work with us is their only source of income.
In addition to our pricing policy we provide:
- Scalability of rates (which varies depending on specialization, project or end client)
- Extra fees for extra work
- Covering expenses for CAT tools, new programs or training
- Regular price review
2.2. Requirements, terms and conditions
We strive to maintain simple procedures with clear instructions and adequate planning to simplify the project management process, provide straight-forward workflows and communicate clear deadlines. Providing the right CAT tools and software, along with user support, increases our freelancers’ motivation and willingness to work with us.
We aim to have open and effective communication with our freelancers. Communication is not only about swift replies, but about being informative, supportive, polite and following best practices.
Communication is about providing regular feedback from the company and customers, offering collaboration with other linguists and providing reference letters when requested.
Project and Team Managers are trained in business communication to optimize their skills and learn official communication processes. Regular monitoring and collecting feedback from employees and freelancers help us update and improve these processes over time.
Above all, AMPLEXOR maintains Quality and Corporate Social Responsibility at the centre of our business strategy to meet the expectations of our clients and external vendors.
In the field of language services, specialization in source material is critical and freelancers prefer working on projects that directly coincide with their experience.
Other aspects to consider as possibly impacting a freelancer’s preference when managing projects are the importance of the subject, re-use of the material and its audience.
We believe freelancers extend their knowledge and experience throughout time and as a result, may be willing to expand the scope of their subject fields. They may like to take on a new specialization or task, so our Vendor Managers must ensure they stay informed of freelancer interests and preferences to best match our clients’ needs.
2.5. Professional growth and job enrichment
Unlike internal employees, freelancers do not get promoted. Their responsibilities generally remain unchanged; however, there are many ways to help them accelerate their professional development:
- Training (technical, CAT, project-specific)
- Professional seminars and educational lectures
- Specialized translation courses
- Diversification of projects, subject fields, or provided services
- Involvement in project management processes
- Tutoring fellow colleagues
As with all working relationships, we believe both parties need to value one another. While no one is irreplaceable, most language service provider companies prefer to mitigate or solve challenges that impact freelancers, rather than lose valuable resources that fuel quality and timely project delivery to clients.
At AMPLEXOR, keeping our freelancers motivated is mission possible!
This article was adapted from Sņežana Kondrašova’s presentation "Keeping freelancers motivated: mission (im)possible?" at the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies' fifth annual conference, which took place on October 28 2016, in Vilnius, Lithuania, under the motto "Grow your business. Grow your team". For more information, click here.