While finding talented freelance writers is difficult, keeping them is even more challenging. Today, half of the Philippine workforce comprises millennials. Many employers view this generation of “digital natives” as notorious job hoppers. Clients can, of course, put in place retention measures to lessen turnover rates.
If you think throwing money at them will 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 to implement a retention program, keeping them happy and loyal.
Choosing to deal with Filipino millennials today is a smart move. Any action you take that addresses 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
Content writers are the heart and soul of any website.
End of discussion.
For many, hiring exceptional writers is so much more challenging than SEO experts. Yes, writers abound, and you would not have any issues despite a high turnover rate. But the reality is that not many writers can create content that matters to both people and search engines.
When hiring freelance content writers, you have to ask if their articles can rank high. More importantly, can they enhance brand image and recognition, increase leads, and boost sales?
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. You can hire these people to write generic materials that search engines ignore.
The higher the elevation, the more talented the writers, but fewer are 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, and more. Filipinos, by and large, tend to do more without being asked – if you can cultivate such a type of relationship.
Millennials: The Misunderstood Digital Natives
Some employers and clients are indifferent to the needs and desires of millennials. Such an 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 the workplace, unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, 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 a closer look 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
Within 2 Years
Within 5 Years
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 trials. 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 will 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 that 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 the indicated period
Millennials in 2016
Generation X in 2000
|No less than 13 months|
|No less than 60 months|
As you can see, the previous generation was a little worse than today’s millennials back in 2000. Around 60% of baby boomers have 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 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, called 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. You can use those surveys and research 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. Millennials are who they are today because of the values instilled by the previous generation. Circumstances also played a pivotal role. For example, baby boomers – of which I am one – had to adapt to technology. On the other hand, millennials were born with technology and thus are technology-obsessed.
To understand what millennials 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. For instance, they promote how cheap 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 pay 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
|Mandatory employee benefits and contributions|
|Health and life insurance|
|Double pay during public holidays|
|Guaranteed 14-month pay|
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 benefits to freelance content writers, it is not even expensive. For SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth contributions, employers only share a tiny portion.
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 of 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 the 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
|Clear growth and succession plans|
|Self-development plans and awards|
|On-the-job skill development and coaching|
A promotion, of course, means higher compensation. But more than that, it is also an achievement. 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 that 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 access 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
|Cash-out annual leaves/take unpaid annual leaves|
|Five-day work week|
|Flexible working time|
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 needed 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 have different 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
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).
- Psychological Meaningfulness. Is the work meaningful enough to the employer and thus warranting an employee to engage their whole self?
- Psychological Safety. Is it safe to engage their whole self, or would there be the risk of adverse consequences?
- Psychological Availability. Can the employee mentally and physically engage their whole self at any given moment?
If these conditions are unfavorable, 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.
What should you do as you deal with Filipino freelance writers, other contractors, and employees?
“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 would be fewer disruptions in your business. Consider, too, the time you and your team save. For example, you could focus more on your core business. The other company members could concentrate 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. Accessed 1 May 2021.
Blando, Mark Kristian Viernes, et al. “Psychological Meaningfulness and Work Engagement of Filipino Millennials.” ResearchGate, 13 Dec. 2017. Accessed 1 May 2021.
Burjek, Andie. “Re-Engaging with William Kahn 25 Years after He Coined Term Employee Engagement.” Workforce, 14 Dec. 2015. Accessed 1 May 2021.
Dumlao-Abadilla, Doris. “40% of Pinoy Millennials May Quit Jobs in 2 Years.” INQUIRER.net, 29 Jan. 2016. Accessed 1 May 2021.
Fry, Richard. “Millennials Aren’t Job-Hopping Any Faster than Generation X Did.” Pew Research Center, 19 Apr. 2017. 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. Accessed 16 Aug. 2021.
Sanchez, Martha Jean. “Philippines Facebook Penetration 2020.” Statista, 5 Mar. 2021. 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.