According to a recent Forbes survey, 31% of freelancers are 50 or older. This is significant, as there is a common misconception that independent contractors and Gig workers are made up of Millennials and Gen Z alone. In fact, the trend towards older freelancers is on the upswing, with the share of those who are 55 or older up 10 percentage points from 2005-2017, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
A silver freelancer is someone above the age of 55 who is working in a freelance capacity, either augmenting their in-house work elsewhere, or as their main income stream. What do today’s businesses need to think about when it comes to this essential segment of the freelance population?
Why Are So Many Older Workers Choosing to Freelance?
If you think about it, it’s no surprise that an older segment of the public would be looking to take on freelance work. After all, many of the benefits of independent contracting are perfect for senior citizens.
The ability to work your own schedule is likely to suit someone who may not want to sit at a desk for many hours in a row. The choice of where to work will be perfect for older citizens who are so over the daily commute. And the flexibility to pick payment terms allows seniors to address the cost of living crisis. Freelancing can effectively supplement pensions or other income which is likely to be on the shy side of what they need.
As a result, freelancing is a smart way to ease into retirement, allowing individuals to stop full-time work, but continue to work on their own terms, as many hours as they would like. As people in general are living longer, many older citizens are not interested in 20 or 30 years of retirement, when they truly love their work and know that they can still provide a lot of value. However, freelancing allows them to add autonomy and flexibility to the way they experience that work.
“We see a huge growth in work and employment by older Americans as the life expectancy increases and people are able to continue working,” says Eileen Appelbaum, a research associate at the EPI. “People are living longer, and because they are living longer, many who have jobs that are not physically demanding, especially, are putting off retiring.”
What Should Businesses Consider About Hiring Silver Freelancers?
While the Forbes report shows that there are many ways in which there is no difference at all to hiring older freelancers, there are some significant benefits to consider.
For example, you may specifically want to hire an independent contractor who has vast experience with the subject at hand. In the case of silver freelancers, you can attract pre-retiring talent who may have 30+ years of experience in their industry. For areas such as law, insurance, or financial services – this can be invaluable. Silver freelancers can also allow you to add diversity to your toolbelt, providing a different opinion or point of view to marketing, advertising or sales efforts.
While there are many benefits to hiring older freelance talent, it’s important to think through the stages of working with freelancers from this specific lens. Let’s look at each in more detail.
When finding silver freelancers, there are a few approaches to consider. You might usually rely on word of mouth. However, this will be harder, as most people will not think about older retired previous co-workers, or those who are more mature. Instead, you might want to look at a dedicated freelance marketplace for senior talent, for example Been There Done That, levelcompany.com, WATVE in the USA, or Cognisium in Australia. Some freelancer management systems will allow you to search for exactly what you need by years of experience, or bookmark specific talent to return to for your next project.
While many older freelancers will be as tech-savvy as your new graduate hire, it makes sense that if you’re working with silver freelancers, you want the processes to be as simple as possible. Automating workflows such as collecting the right documentation and freelancer details, and sending e-documents for them to sign using DocuSign can make the whole process much smoother. You can even provide system access automatically, so you’re left with far fewer “How do I get into…?” conversations and far more of just getting the job done.
Many freelancers struggle with clients who demand multiple methods of communication and systems to stay on top of. Join our Slack channel, check the Monday.com board, don’t miss an email, and see what I just said on WhatsApp… the list goes on. Providing a simple and cohesive process for assigning work, tracking milestones, approving workload and even requesting payments is a game changer when working with professional freelancers who don’t have the time or the skills to juggle multiple platforms. A freelancer management platform provides this out of the box – one dashboard with all information clear to see.
While younger freelancers might have never held a full-time office job, senior freelancers are more likely to be used to a simple monthly payroll. If their experience is that their money just appears in the bank each month, they might struggle with a complex payments process where they need to wait for approvals and are unsure when money will be available for their use. The right technology makes this seamless, with all freelancers paid in a single click, on the same days of the month, according to your schedule. With Stoke for example, you can pay independent contractors in 70 currencies, and via 7 methods, so that they get the flexibility they were striving for when they left the 9-5.
Fiverr Enterprise, One Freelancer Management Platform for All!
No matter whether your freelance pick is 18 or 108, Fiverr Enterprise’s Freelance Management System makes it simple from day one. Easy sourcing of the right candidate, streamlined onboarding and compliance, simplified management of ongoing tasks, and one click payment that suits the freelancer’s preferences.
That’s everything you need to embrace the silver freelancer revolution. Dentures not included.