The 9-to-5 workday is on life support.
OK, this may be an overstatement, but it’s still not too far off the mark if we bear in mind that 54% of older adults don’t want to work full time anymore.
Similarly, 56.7 million Americans are currently working as freelancers and this trend is on the rise.
Such a new hiring landscape requires that both companies and employees assess what’s at stake for them and find the best model.
In order for employers to motivate and retain top talent in the age of gig economy, they need to understand what makes their potential hires click and why they choose to work as freelancers.
What are the Benefits of the Gig Economy?
There’s no official definition of the economy, at least according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And yet, we know what this loose term refers to working not for a single employer all the time, but as a contractor for different companies and individuals. These jobs are either a part of a long-standing arrangement with a single client or are a collection of short-term engagements with different clients.
But how do employees who decide to ditch traditional jobs for gigs benefit from that new concept?
- Flexibility. 43% of freelancers state the possibility to work wherever and whenever they like as the main reason for working as free agents and pick companies they want to work with as contractors. As work-life balance plays an increasingly important role when it comes to making career choices, it’s only logical that a flexible work schedule which allows people to spend more quality time with their families will be among top employee perks.
- More opportunities. The gig economy is particularly appealing to millennials whose idea of a successful career isn’t being stuck in the same job for years. They want to learn new things and try out different possibilities. This kind of employment model allows them to decide to find their true calling and decide what they want to do.
Employers enjoy some important benefits too:
- On-demand employees. Instead of having to hire full-time workers, companies can rely on a flexible workforce that is available only when they need it. This means that they can significantly cut costs and lower their overheads. Hiring full-time, in-house employees also means that companies have to pay for their health insurance and account for their paid time off and sick leaves.
- Access to specialized skills. Sometimes companies need experts and specialists in certain areas, but the size of the project doesn’t justify hiring them full-time. That’s where free agents come in handy to provide top quality services with no strings attached.
Respect Your Giggers
The fact that you gig workers don’t work from your office and aren’t on your regular payroll doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat them with respect.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is a view that gig workers are disposable and that there’s no need to nurture them and help them thrive.
Their voice should also be heard, so make sure to conduct surveys and feel their pulse.
This way you’ll show them that their opinion matters which will, in turn, build loyalty.
And, don’t forget that just like there are many contractors, freelancers, and gig workers to choose from, the best ones also have an opportunity to pick the companies they want to work with. So, if you want to be among the most desirable employees and attract crème de la crème, you need to raise the bar and differentiate your company from the rest.
Don’t forget to leave good online reviews on freelancing platforms they use, offer them referrals, and encourage their progress in other ways.
Make Them Feel Like They Belong
Excluding your gig workers from the team is the worst thing you can do.
We’re all social beings and a sense of camaraderie and belonging is something that the gig economy lacks.
It’s an understatement to say that in most cases free agents feel like complete outsiders.
Contractors and free agents working for a company are usually excluded not only from the benefit and perk packages but also from different meetings, social gatherings, and other group events.
It’s only logical that we can’t talk about any real sense of loyalty here, so if you want to make sure that your contractors who are doing a good job will pick your company over another one in the future, you need to make them feel they’re a part of your team.
Setting up a reward program for your gig staff is another way of motivating and retaining them. You can offer them some small incentives such as the “have lunch on us” money or even show your gratitude by inviting them to your team building activities abroad. A weekend getaway paired with team building in, say, Prague is an excellent choice because you’ll get to see some amazing architecture, try the superb craft beer, and have fun sans a hefty price tag.
Such an amazing experience will help your entire team, including your gig staff, bond and establish meaningful relationships which is essential for the success of any business.
Provide a Sense of Purpose
Most companies focus on communicating their mission, vision, and goals to their full-time employees.
But the thing is that freelancers hired on a project-to-project basis need a context and a sense of purpose so that they can feel that their work is meaningful. It’s important for them to understand that their contribution, no matter how sporadic or even one-time it is, matters and is valuable.
Such a structured approach, in which they’ll be able to see their contribution to the bigger picture will help them foster a sense of pride, and that’s crucial for establishing loyalty.
The first step towards all this is sharing customer testimonials and case studies which will give them an insight into why the product or service they’re helping create is great.
Although decent wages and regular payments are essential motivators, it’s important to understand that gig workers want more than a check – they need to feel indispensable, valuable, and respected. It doesn’t take much to achieve this and it won’t cost you much to treat them properly and make sure that you’ll become their No. 1 client.
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.