How to Keep Freelance Writers Happy and Loyal to You

While finding talented freelance writers is difficult, keeping them is even more challenging. Today, half of the Philippine workforce comprises millennials. For many employers, this generation of “digital natives” are notorious job hoppers. Clients can, of course, put in place measures to lessen turnover rates. If you think throwing money at them is going to keep them happy, think again. Loyalty, much like respect, is not for sale.

Bridging the generational gap unlocks the full potential of millennial freelance writers. It is also the only way you can establish a retention program, keeping them happy and loyal.

Choosing to deal with Filipino millennials today is a smart move. Any action taken addressing their needs and desires is not only for the short term. It is also a sound long-term business strategy because 3 out of 4 workers will be millennials within ten years.

Note: In this article, the term “freelance writer” may also refer to “full-time writer.” The ideas presented in this article may apply to one or both freelance and full-time.

Why You Should Keep the Good Freelance Writers

The heart and soul of any website are content. Period. End of discussion. With this in mind, content writers are of utmost importance. For many, hiring exceptional writers is so much more challenging than SEO experts. Yes, writers abound, and you would not have any issues despite high turnovers if you are running a content mill. Does this type of article rank high on search engines? Can they enhance brand image, promote brand recognition, and increase customer base?

Like other professions, there is a hierarchy to the degree of knowledge and skill – and it looks like a pyramid. At its base, you can fit in thousands of Filipino content writers. These are the people you can hire to write generic materials that search engines ignore.

The higher the elevation, the more talented the writers, but the fewer of them available. At the highest peak, that is where you find exceptional writers. They are not only excellent at writing but also experts in specific industries.

Generally speaking, the better the writers, the more you should develop your relationship. Be that as it may, you should also not neglect average freelancers if your needs are marginal. Instead of looking for new writers time and again, you should focus on your core business. How can your business grow if there is a disruption each time a writer leaves?

The solution to job-hopping problems hounding many clients is, in principle, easy. Give them what they need to receive what you want, and more. Filipino people, by and large, tend to do more without being asked – if you can cultivate such type of relationship.

Millennials: The Misunderstood Digital Natives

Some employers and clients are indifferent to the needs and desires of millennials. Such attitude stems from the belief that young people are non-committal. Since they will leave within two years, why bother developing a relationship?

“The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” – Dr. John Dewey

Millennials are a generation of technology-obsessed, entitled, spoiled, immature kids. Such negative connotations tear away the fabric of their existence. Anyone, for that matter, made to feel inconsequential will lose confidence and motivation. Their performance in a workplace, unfortunately, but not unsurprising, suffers. Delving into their psyche, though, it is evident that there is no reason to label millennials as such.

A Generation of Job Hoppers: True or False

The truth is they are, indeed, job hoppers. But delving deeper into the job-hopping phenomenon reveals an entirely different story.

Generation Z Are Job Hoppers

Five years ago, Deloitte conducted a survey and revealed these interesting figures (Dumlao-Abadilla).

Table 1. Percentage of millennials expecting to resign.

Location within 2 years within 5 years
Globally 44% 66%
Philippines 40% 64%

Filipino millennials do not differ much from the rest of the world. 40% of them plan to leave a company within two years. By the fifth year, 64% of them will likely resign and transfer to another company.

For employers, hiring freelance writers – no matter how well the vetting process – comes down to trial. Sample articles, at best, can only offer a glimpse of what they can do. Once hired, only then will they shine or falter. It means you are going to have to cycle through many freelancers before landing the talented one. Unfortunately, there is a 40% chance that this person will leave you within two years.

Generation X Were Job Hoppers Too

Although the results show 4 to 6 out of 10 millennials are not loyal, there is more to it beneath the surface. Comparing millennials to the previous generation in the present day is unfair. Instead, a better comparison would be to compare by age group (Fry). In 2000, when Generation X was the same age as 2016 millennials, what was their track record?

Table 2. Percentage of employees who worked with their current employer, based on indicated period.

Concerns Millennials in 2016 Generation X in 2000
No less than 13 months 64% 59.9%
No less than 60 months 22% 21.8%

As you can see, the previous generation was a little worse than today’s millennials back in 2000. A shade under 60% of baby boomers has worked with their current company for 13 months. In comparison, there are more millennials – 64% – within the same length of tenure.

Today, branding them as job hoppers when most of them are at or entering their prime is correct. However, you could also say the same thing about the baby boomers back when they were young. For sure, the next generation, zoomers, will be the same.

The point of changing this unfair “job-hopping” generation perception is to open up the minds of employers. Job hopping was an issue the boomers had with baby boomers in 2000. Today, it is the baby boomers who have to deal with millennials.

An advantage you have over the previous generation is the availability of data. It does not matter if they come from surveys or research. You can use that info to forge a strong, positive relationship with your freelance writers.

Filipino Millennial Workforce Needs and Desires

At this point, we ascertained that job-hopping is not an issue limited to one generation alone. Millennials are who they are today because of the values instilled by the previous generation. Circumstances also played a central role. For example, baby boomers – of which I am one – had to adapt to technology. Millennials are technology-obsessed. Of course, they are. They were born with technology.

To understand what they want is to know what to give. In giving, you will receive.

In this section, I rely heavily on survey results provided by JobStreet (“It’s More than the Brand! What Filipino Millennial/Gen Y Talents Really Look for in a Job”).

The latest data indicates that millennials aged 24-34 years account for 61% of the Philippine workforce. The following are what they need and desire.

Financial Stability and Security

Some freelance marketplaces do Filipinos injustice. On their sites, they proclaim how cheap the freelancers are in the Philippines. “Cheap” is subjective. Yes, clients do pay less. However, they should not base the salary on the minimum wage law. They should also consider the value of the work they can do. As these figures show, base salary is not even on top of the considerations when Filipino millennials search for a job.

Table 3. Filipino millennials’ attitude towards career financial stability and security.

Concerns Millennials  Total Workforce
Mandatory employee benefits and contributions 94.8% 94.6%
Health and life insurance 93.8% 92.9%
Double pay during public holidays 89.5% 88.4%
Base salary 84.3% 83.8%
Guaranteed 14-month pay 64.4% 61.8%

Mandatory employee benefits and contributions comprise:

  • Social Security System (SSS)
  • Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), also known as Pag-IBIG Fund
  • Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)

A common belief is that millennials like instant gratification. Everyone does, but they also think about their long-term future. They will not work for a company that does not provide mandatory government benefits. Unfortunately, most home-based online freelancers in the Philippines do not receive these benefits.

One can argue that Filipino freelancers receive higher salaries compared to local opportunities. But salary alone only satisfies “instant gratification.” It does not make them happier, not as much as receiving the other benefits.

If clients were to offer that to freelance content writers, it is not even expensive. For SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth contributions, employers only a part. A small amount of money goes a long way in building a solid relationship. Offering perks and benefits is one way to keep Filipino freelance writers happy. They are less likely to leave after a year or two working with you.

Career Advancements and Skills Development

A trait common among young people is that they are more aggressive towards their goals. It is as if there is a chip on their shoulder. Apart from base salary, they also have a lot to prove. Hence, seeing these figures should not come as a surprise. Instead of higher wages, 8 out of 10 Filipinos assess promotion opportunities when choosing a company.

Table 4. Filipino millennials’ attitude towards career advancements and skills development.

Concerns Millennials Total Workforce
Promotion opportunities 78.3% 76.8%
Clear growth and succession plans 69.6% 68.4%
Self-developments plans and awards 60.6% 59.1%
On the job skill development and coaching 58.7% 57.5%
Mentoring program 52.9% 51.3%

A promotion, of course, means higher compensation. But more than that, it is also an achievement (see number 3). Filipino millennials prefer employers with training programs and growth opportunities. If clients can provide these to their freelance writers, they will stay motivated.

Freelance writers need the training to advance in their careers. You can do them a favor by enriching them with further knowledge and skills. Let them aspire for higher positions within your company. While they are likely to stay longer, there is no guarantee. It may be a bitter pill to swallow when a freelance writer leaves after receiving training. The upside is they produced better output during their time with you.

The desire to be appreciated is intrinsic to humans, regardless of race, creed, and color. Instead of telling them, make them feel your gesture of appreciation for jobs well done.

Do understand that Filipino people, by nature, have a strong sense of gratitude. Most will be thankful for these opportunities and programs. As long as the working environment and inter-employee relationships are positive, they will be loyal to you.

Flexibility and Rewards

Filipinos have close family ties, and it is not uncommon for them to live in the same house. They also love and value the time spent with friends. It explains why 96% of Filipinos with internet use Facebook (Sanchez).

During after-work hours, they love mingling with family and friends. If they cannot do it face-to-face, they would do it online – except if they have to work overtime. Now, most millennials would not mind that. But if the extended working hours become the norm, and they do not get compensated, that is another matter.

Table 5. Filipino millennials’ attitude towards flexibility and rewards.

Concerns Millennials Total Workforce
Overtime compensation 84.3% 82.7%
Public holidays 71.1% 70.4%
Cash-out annual leaves/take unpaid annual leaves 68.4% 65.8%
Five-day work week 62.6% 61.6%
Flexible working time 45.1% 44.0%

Freelance writers work through holidays. Unfortunately, overseas clients do not recognize Philippine holidays. In other words, they would be working during public holidays while getting paid the same rate. On the one hand, it is true that they still receive compensation. You cannot, therefore, expect them to be happy and loyal.

Most clients also do not offer paid annual leaves. While writing articles may not be physically draining, it takes a toll mentally. If a freelancer leaves, it is not necessarily because they jumped ship. I know many who had to because of mental health issues. Still, many of them choose to work instead of taking a break. They had to if they need the money to support their family.

As clients, if working overtime is necessary, then compensate the freelancers accordingly. Do recognize Philippine public holidays. It shows them that you care about their social, emotional, and mental well-being. In this way, you can build a long-lasting relationship.

The Psychology of Employee Engagement and Commitment

Employee engagement is a concept that came about in a study published by William Khan in 1990. There is no singular definition for this term. Different companies, consultants, and researchers all have their interpretations (Vance).

At any rate, the common theme appears to be:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Pride in their employer
  • Enjoying what they do at work
  • Belief in what they do
  • Perception of the employer recognizing their value

In a nutshell, the more engaged an employee is, the more they will do their jobs better. They would also be more proactive and willing to go the extra mile to deliver exceptional performance. Most importantly, they will be more inclined to stay with their employer.

Three psychological conditions enable or disable employee engagement (Khan).

  1. Psychological Meaningfulness. Is the work meaningful enough to the employer and thus warranting an employee to engage their full self?
  2. Psychological Safety. Is it safe to engage their full self, or would there be the risk of negative consequences?
  3. Psychological Availability. At a given moment, can the employee mentally and physically engage their full self?

If these conditions are not favorable, then you can expect an employee to turn in lackluster work. Lacking motivation, they go through the motion of completing tasks without much care. They merely do what an employer told them to do. The chances, too, are high that they would leave.

As you deal with Filipino freelance writers, other contractors, and employees, what should you do?

“Approach employees as true partners, involving them in continuous dialogues and processes about how to design and alter their roles, tasks and working relationships,” Khan said. “Leaders need to make it safe enough for employees to speak openly of their experiences at work.”

Go the Extra Mile to Keep Freelance Writers

It is the job of freelance writers you hire to write according to agreed-upon terms and conditions. It is also on them to deliver articles that meet your standards and expectations.

Do you need to go the extra mile?

It is entirely up to you.

Finding talented freelance writers is already a difficult task. Clients who value high-quality articles that deserve to be on top of search results will understand how important it is to keep talents.

If you could lower turnover rates, there are fewer disruptions in your operation. Consider, too, the time you and your team save. For example, you could focus more on your core business. The other members of the company could focus on their tasks instead of integrating a new person.

Now that you know what Filipino millennials need and desire, what are you willing to do?

The more you address the concerns of your freelance writers, the more you instill positive psychological meaningfulness. In doing so, you can enhance employee engagement and commitment. As a result, you will not only keep your freelance writer happy but also loyal.

Sources and Further Reading

“It’s More than the Brand! What Filipino Millennial/Gen Y Talents Really Look for in a Job.” JobStreet, www.jobstreet.com.ph/en/cms/employer/laws-of-attraction/inspirations/its-more-than-the-brand-what-filipino-millennialgen-y-talents-really-look-for-in-a-job/. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Blando, Mark Kristian Viernes, et al. “THESIS Psychological Meaningfulness and Work Engagement of Filipino Millennials.” ResearchGate, 13 Dec. 2017, www.researchgate.net/publication/333557140_THESIS_Psychological_Meaningfulness_and_Work_Engagement_of_Filipino_Millennials. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Burjek, Andie. “Re-Engaging with William Kahn 25 Years after He Coined Term Employee Engagement.” Workforce, 14 Dec. 2015, www.workforce.com/news/re-engaging-with-william-kahn-25-years-after-he-coined-term-employee-engagement. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Dumlao-Abadilla, Doris. “40% of Pinoy Millennials May Quit Jobs in 2 Years.” INQUIRER.net, 29 Jan. 2016, business.inquirer.net/206328/40-of-pinoy-millennials-may-quit-jobs-in-2-years. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Fry, Richard. “Millennials Aren’t Job-Hopping Any Faster than Generation X Did.” Pew Research Center, 19 Apr. 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/19/millennials-arent-job-hopping-any-faster-than-generation-x-did/. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Kahn, William A. “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.” Academy of Management Journal, vol. 33, no. 4, Dec. 1990, pp. 692–724, 10.5465/256287.

Sanchez, Martha Jean. “Philippines Facebook Penetration 2020.” Statista, 5 Mar. 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/490518/share-of-the-philippines-internet-users-using-facebook/. Accessed 1 May 2021.

Vance, Robert. “Employee Engagement and Commitment a Guide to Understanding, Measuring and Increasing Engagement in Your Organization.” Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2006.

ROBERT LEE

Freelance Web Content Manager and Article Writer

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