Do you give year end bonuses to freelancers?


Do you tip your hairdresser, taxi driver, lawn mower, or any other small business owner? Most likely, the answer is yes because it has been a cultural expectation to tip these individuals for providing a service. Now that we live in a digital world, do you extend the same courtesy to those providing services behind the screen? 

Are Bonuses Expected?

As we near the end of the year, you may be wondering if you should give bonuses to freelancers. In all reality, a freelancer might be just like your hairdresser. They are small business owners trying to make it without the help of a big company. They do everything from advertising to accounting to the work (maybe language work) they do for you. So, should they be given a bonus too? 

Bonuses for freelancers are not required. Depending on the freelancer, bonuses may or may not be expected. However, who doesn’t like to be rewarded for their hard work? 


The Benefits of Giving Bonuses

There are numerous benefits to giving bonuses. Not only does it demonstrate your appreciation for your freelancer’s quality work and dedication, but it also has been proven to decrease turnover, increase productivity, build respect, and initiate passion and dedication for future projects — a win-win for everyone. 

Plus, you will likely get preferential treatment compared to those who did not give a bonus. Think about it. Wouldn't you work harder for someone who recognizes your work than someone who just completes the minimum requirements? 


What to Keep in Mind?

Giving bonuses can be a bit tricky. You may be curious about how much as well as when and when not it's appropriate to do so. 

First, how much? This, unfortunately, does not have a simple answer. How much you give will depend significantly on the amount of work completed, how long they have been working with you, and how much you can afford. You don’t have to go crazy; even something small is appreciated. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be monetary; you can also provide a gift. 

Second, when to give bonuses? Before jumping in, we want to note that tipping is a cultural concept. Here in North America, it is a regular part of our culture. However, in Asia, it may not be. Align with the freelancer's culture, not your own. If your freelancer is from the United States (where this writer is located), you might give a bonus. If they are from Japan for instance, consider speaking to them beforehand to understand their position to avoid an accidental offense. 

So, when to give a bonus? Choose  one of the following two options (or both if you are extra generous). 

The first option, and the most common, is to give bonuses at the end of the year. This is not a "holiday bonus," as holidays can be tricky to navigate in a multi-cultural world. This would be an end of the year, wrap up, all done, thank you for helping us achieve success kind of bonus. This bonus rewards their work for the whole year and continues to foster your relationship into the new year.  

The second option is to give bonuses after an exceptionally well-done job. When your freelancer goes above and beyond, gives extra effort, or produces a distinctly high-quality product, you can reward them. By giving them a surprise “good job” bonus, they will feel instant gratification for a job well done and likely set the bar higher for future projects. 


Your decision to give a bonus might be the advantage you need in the competition for the best freelancers in the years ahead.

Interested in giving membership as a bonus? Email and site staff can help.

Topics: freelancer, translator, interpreter, jobs, LSP

Mike Donlin

Written by Mike Donlin

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