As freelancers, it’s easy to feel like you wear one too many hats. You are the creative engine, the accountant, and the marketing manager all rolled into one. You are a freaky one (wo)man band of awesome. One role that you might not be thinking about is that of a Human Resources Manager. Here are some ways to do yourself a solid in that department, and maybe give yourself a raise in the process!
Be your own advocate for what is fair and legal
There are a lot of laws out there that exist to protect employees within a traditional work structure. Unfortunately freelancers don’t typically fall under that lovely little umbrella of protection, so you need to know your rights, and be prepared to stand up for yourself if the situation calls for it. If you are working as an independent contractor for a company, make sure are aware of how you may be protected through the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Mind your health
Even though you may not have employer-sponsored benefits, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some and sponsor yourself. (Dental coverage? Don’t mind if I do!) There are a lot of options out there for independent health insurance coverage, and although it may seem like a large out-of-pocket expense, the alternative could be far more financially damaging if something serious were to happen. I don’t want to get all mom on you guys, but you know, it’s important.
Know when to ask for advice and help
Being your own everything is all well and good until you have to be your own mentor. While it’s important to be self-reflective about your business, it is also important to know when you need to talk it out with someone that isn’t you, or your cat (although I bet he/she is a REALLY good listener). Use those human resources within your network as a sounding board and really allow yourself to be honest and take into consideration other perspectives and advice.
If you ever feel like you have just too much on your plate, outsourcing is a great and totally acceptable solution that you should absolutely take advantage of.
Set aside paid time off
As a freelancer on the perma-hustle it can feel really impossible to take a day off, let alone a vacation! However, sanity wise, you gotta take a break every now and again. Think of yourself as a company and write your own sick time and paid time off policies. Decide how many days you are allotted per year and keep track of those days that you take. If you have a particular time of year when your dry spell occurs, take advantage of that time to relax and enjoy a few days off.
Celebrate your accomplishments
This might seem trivial, but everyone likes to be recognized for their work. Since you are also the head of company morale, this is your job. Take time to take a step back from the daily grind to reflect and congratulate yourself on the things that you have done. Have a one (wo)man company outing to a museum, or the park, or go and find yourself a rooftop and a congratulatory adult beverage. Go ahead, treat yo’ self.
Invest in your future
Since you don’t have one of those pesky HR managers in your ear chirping about how important putting aside money for your future is, allow me to be that for you: Putting aside money for your future is important! Chirp chirp! Jokes aside though, there are very few disadvantages to it. Not only does it lower your taxable income, but it is a convenient and legally acceptable way to hide money from yourself. Look into your options like a Roth IRA or the Freelancers Retirement Plan.
Give yourself a performance review
Set aside time every year to give yourself a performance review. What were some of your major accomplishments? What did you do really well within the last year? What are some of the things that could use improvement? Be honest with yourself, and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.
Use this time if possible, to give yourself a raise, and decide if that needs to come with raising your rates. Many freelancers choose to do a percentage raise every year, but you are the boss, so you can decide.
Freelancers, how do you wear your Human Resources Manager hat?