Better Employee Engagement

Hiring for a “gig”? Build Better Employee Engagement

According to a 2018 Edison Research survey, 44% of gig workers (in the US alone) say their “gig work” is their primary source of income. Harvard Business Review states that “Work is being disaggregated from jobs and reorganized into a variety of alternative arrangements, such as consulting projects, freelance assignments, and contract opportunities”. World over, a growing number of gig workers are becoming a part of established teams with an existing culture and are working on short- or long-term temporary projects.

They are not, however, seen as an integral part of the team they join and are typically not engaged as full-time employees. In fact, according to a Prudential study, less than half of gig employees have access to basic employer-provided benefits.

Gig workers don’t always have the opportunity to get familiar with teammates over repeated projects or coffee breaks, and thus don’t sustain long-term or real relationships during their temporary contracts. And since they don’t enjoy the same incentives as full-time employees, they are driven by different incentives. Yet, organizations can’t ignore gig workers and must find ways to engage them and ensure that they become a valuable and integral part of the organization.

Here are some ideas for engaging your band of gig workers:

Treat them as people not as resources 

This is most important. Gig workers are contractual and feel like equipment on rent rather than a part of a team of real people. No matter how short the relationship, don’t just think of gig workers as flexible resources. HR managers and direct supervisors need to spend time communicating with them on a human level and get to know them.

Integration is key

According to Forbes, gig workers tend to be less loyal to the companies they work for than traditional employees, because their “employment” with the organization is short-term. Working for any one organization every day helps build solid relationships with bosses and peers, and that organizations become an important part of our professional identity. Not so with gig workers. Ensuring integration can do away with the unwritten rules about gig worker isolation, boosting loyalty and engagement. HR teams should allow gig workers to connect with full-time employees and encourage collaboration.

Ensure an attractive employee value proposition

As employees, we all want something in return for our skills and experience. Gig workers do not differ much in their aspirations and seek an employee value proposition from the contracting organization. Make sure you communicate this value proposition clearly to your existing and future gig workers.

Streamline the way you contract with gig workers

Random and unplanned outsourcing of work to contractual employees is a barrier to employee engagement, so the HR team needs to make the gig hiring process simple, transparent, and more organized.

Don’t ignore a formal induction process 

55% of gig workers are not onboarded properly which is detrimental to the overall relationship. Organizations usually forget that gig workers will benefit from an employee induction program as much as regular employees. The induction does not need to be an elaborate affair but must help them understand the organization’s purpose, culture and goals, and other such information that will make them an integral part of the business. Immediate supervisors, project heads, etc should also consider involving gig workers when rolling out new business initiatives so that they are part of the journey and can share new ideas and perspectives.

Offer opportunities for learning

Why can gig workers not be a part of the organizations learning and development (L&D) program? If their engagement is long enough, then their L&D needs should be considered as well. Consider part-funding any relevant training, or offering other sources of support such as access to an online knowledge portal. Even you can benefit from their enhanced skills.

Use gig workers to catalyze change

Gig workers can be change agents by bringing in creativity, innovation, and fresh perspectives. An EY research found that gig workers can be change catalysts and help break down internal resistance to change. Similarly, while maintaining the required levels of confidentiality, organizations must share news and developments with gig workers and solicit feedback. Not only does this build engagement by making them feel like a part of the process, but also brings in new thoughts. Intranets, chats, and social engagement platforms help share such communication.

 Recognize and reward contributions

Gig workers will be more engaged and productive if they feel their efforts are being recognized. No one likes having others take credit for their work and we all want to be appreciated beyond monetary compensation. If they have been working hard at helping the team achieve their objectives, then their contributions must be recognized and rewarded on a larger scale.

The gig economy is only going to grow and organizations the world over are looking at outsourcing more and more work to gig workers be it for cost control or for bringing in a larger variety of talent. From the employee perspective, gig workers enjoy the freedom and flexibility offered by this working model and we can expect even full-time employees to switch to being gig workers. Organizations thus should devote a lot of mindshare to engaging their set of gig workers so that they continue to attract the best talent and build an overall healthy environment for employees