Why Businesses Need Freelance Writers — Not Employees Who Also Write

By Stacey J. Haseleu

failure or success

Recently I went to a networking event.  I was speaking with an attorney that works for the government.  Long story short,  I found out that a lot of Social Security claims that get denied are done so after a lawyer reviews the medical documentation and decides if that individual is capable of gainful employment or not.

I worked in the disability management field for 8 years and NEVER knew this information.  My good friend, who is a practicing nurse and legal nurse consultant, was also a participant in the conversation.

After the networking event we sat at the stools of our local Applebee’s having drinks and expressing our utter shock and disapproval of this procedure.  How are attorney’s qualified to decide if an individual is medically impaired?  How is it even fair to the attorneys to make them read medical documentation and render an opinion without proper knowledge and education in the medical field?  Isn’t their time better served focusing on the legal aspects of their positions?

What a waste of legal resources, money, time, and, not to mention, how unfair for those people that are being denied based on medical information that’s not even reviewed by a medical professional.

The more I thought about this situation, the more I realized how much it parallels what most businesses do (or try to do) in today’s corporate world with writing and communication tasks.  They assign workers with no training or experience in writing to do a writer’s job.

For example, in my previous job as a Benefits Administrator, I was hired to manage leaves of absences (short-term disabiliy claims, FMLA, military, child birth leaves etc) for the company.  My major responsibilities included counseling managers, employees, and HR Business Partners on corporate policy.  I communicated claim determinations to employees and managed our disability vendors who reviewed the medical records.  My everyday job functions did include some writing and communication, but not original content creation.

During my employment, I was asked to lead a team in re-writing all of the department’s employee correspondence letters.  While I was excited at the prospect of dabbling in writing (what I longed to do professionally anyways), I found it very difficult to juggle my daily responsibilities while focusing on creating the best written product possible.

The company put together a team comprised of myself, my manager, and a (very pricy) consulting firm who didn’t specialize in writing, just document creation.

Soon I found myself in 2-3 meetings per week.  Each meeting lasted between 2-3 hours.  Something had to give — either I needed to stay extended hours to complete my other work, or the quality of my daily tasks was going to suffer.  I ended up staying overtime (without pay) in order to complete my daily tasks.  But the quality of my everyday tasks still suffered.  And the letters weren’t my best specimens of writing either.

Looking at this scenario, what the company ultimately ended up with was an over-worked employee providing mediocre customer service and performing her daily tasks at a lower level than normal.  The letters they got at the end of the project were usable, but not up to the standards they could have been.  And the project took over 10 weeks to complete.  Not to mention the hefty bill from the “consultants” they hired who, between you and me, only really slowed the process down.

Wouldn’t it have been much more cost-effective to hire a freelance writer to create the employee correspondence letters?  In doing so, I could have kept up the superb quality of work in my everyday functions.  The company wouldn’t have needed to hire a “consulting” company, and the final product would be polished, professional letters.

You see it all the time; businesses trying to “cut back” on expenses by tasking out multiple jobs to individual employees to “save” money.  What they don’t realize is that, in fact, they are costing the company more money than if they were to hire a professional contractor/freelancer to do that specific project.

This is especially true in the field of writing.

Instead of paying overtime wages to a benefitted employee they could just pay a flat fee to a writer.  Not to mention the consultant company wouldn’t be needed (major savings for the company). The writer would be able to focus squarely on the writing project at hand; thus, the employer would end up with a quality product in a shorter period of time, for less money.

You wouldn’t go to a bank if you broke your leg and needed a cast, why would you task out writing to anyone besides a professional writer?

 

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2 thoughts on “Why Businesses Need Freelance Writers — Not Employees Who Also Write

  1. Holy Cow – you hit the nail on the head. This is the problem with most of the business communications I see. They aren’t written by professionals but by “employees who also write.” Some of those people are very capable, some even talented, and some seriously need some work on their writing skills. But in the end, it’s such a statement by a business or organization about what really matters to them. If their communications aren’t worth more than that to them, what does it say about their attitude toward their clients? I’m afraid, however, that it may take a major tidal wave to change their attitudes. They can’t see a clear connection between the communication problem and their success/sales . . . even though close examination would show it was clearly connected. Keep up the great posts! You are so on target!

    • You’re totally right, Chanda! How they choose to convey their message really does make a huge statement about their business. It has always stumped me as to how big businesses are so obsessed with their image, but they fail to realize the most important aspect of portraying their image is exceptional writing/communicating.

      I’m afraid you’re right about needing a tidal wave to change their attitudes. There must be a good way to make them see the difference….

      I think part of our responsibility as freelance writers is to help people understand the value of a well-written message. It only takes one spark to start a fire, and I think (with the onset of a social media craze) people are starting to recognize the importance of communication, and that what and how they say things does matter…. at least we can hope!

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

      Rhetorically Urs,
      Stacey

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