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In the past, most companies considered freelancers a short-term staffing solution. However, in recent years, that business model has changed dramatically.

According to the “Freelancing in America: 2016″ survey conducted by the New York-based Freelancers Union, freelancers now make up 35% of U.S. workers. What’s more, a recent study by Intuit suggests that this number could increase to 40% by 2020.

With freelancers fast becoming a significant part of today’s workforce, it’s important to have a strategy for attracting, engaging and retaining this talent. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Provide context: When you bring a freelancer onboard, take time to outline your company’s vision, values and culture, so that he or she has a sense of your organization and what it stands for.
  • Make a connection: Explain how his or her role contributes to the success of the team and the company in general.
  • Be inclusive: Invite freelancers to team meetings and company events, and copy them on relevant communications so that they are informed and feel a part of your organization.
  • Ask for feedback: Encourage them to ask questions and share ideas. As contingent workers, they may have fresh observations and suggestions regarding your business.
  • Manage performance: Provide timely input on how they’re doing — what’s going well and what could be improved.
  • Give praise: Publicly acknowledge the achievements of freelance staff, so that they and the rest of your team understand that their contributions are valued and play a role in your company’s success.

As we learn more about the growing freelance workforce, one thing is clear: Contingent workers can be an integral part of any company’s talent management strategy. Establishing a strong value proposition for freelancers will not only inspire and motivate your contingent staff, but also position your business to attract the best and brightest freelance workers to your organization.