There’s a new kind of economy that the global financial crisis gave birth to – The Gig Economy!
Ever since mobile technology made the internet ubiquitous, people began learning on the go, and learning skills that were previously unavailable to them. Monetizing these skills was an obvious consequence – which gave rise to the ‘on-demand’ workforce and the gig economy.
Contingent (freelance) workers are believed to comprise around 30% of the market currently and will grow to about 40% by 2020.
For a company, while having a structured internal workforce is highly crucial to growth, there are still certain situations where outsourcing the work to these professionals is commonplace.
There are often certain projects or tasks which may need to be carried out, but you would rather give it to a consultant or some expert, as they are short-term and not in line with your company’s primary nature of the business.
This does result in having a blended workforce for a while, which is a mix of your internal team, the external contractual experts or consultants. This also calls for a need for your internal team to be in sync with this external workforce.
Let’s understand what are the benefits of such a blended workforce and how you can get it right!
Benefits Of Cashing In On The Gig Economy!
Here’s how companies can benefit from the gig economy!
By hiring contract workers, organisations have more breathing room in finding the right candidate for jobs which need experts but are not the primary business for the organisation. This also helps in preventing expensive hiring mistakes.
Add in reduced overhead and operating costs, and the blended workforce is even more attractive!
2. Diversity & Innovation:
A blended workforce not only brings more diversity to companies and projects but also adds innovation and creativity to the everyday office routine.
When full time and contract employees work side by side, the unique combination adds to the stability of the brand, fostering better relations with all stakeholders.
3. Scalable Operations:
A blended workforce helps scale operations up or down as needed, reduce costs for physical office space due to remote work, and bring in highly specialized skills when they are needed without having to offer a traditional employment contract. This allows them to acquire exactly what they need for just as long as they need it.
4. Happier Staff:
Since qualified experts are hired to do specific tasks, your internal workforce is less stressed out in dealing with matters which are beyond their areas of expertise.
The contractual employees too are happy…
Studies suggest that contingent workers are happier, because they feel good about profiting from their own business acumen, and they have a better work-life balance.
Work-life imbalance can result in higher stress levels, increased risks of heart disease, depression and anxiety. With a blended workforce, your internal employees need not worry or put in extra hours for something which is beyond their domain.
Hiring great talent is always on the mind of business leaders, but it sometimes spirals out of their budget.
Blended workforces give companies access to top-tier professionals without footing the bill for salaries, health insurance etc.
6. Competitive Advantage:
In addition to saving money, a blended workforce can help a company maintain a competitive advantage.
A mix of full-timers, part-timers, contractors, freelancers, and consultants ignites the competitive nature within the workforce because no one wants to be outperformed by the other.
Sometimes full-time employment can breed a sense of entitlement, but with a blended workforce, everyone has a reason to work hard.
Some Challenges Of Dealing With The Gig Workforce…
While having a blended workforce has its benefits, there are also a few challenges of employing a blended workforce!
1. Remote Workers:
Since you will be having a lot of people working from different time zones, managing a blended workforce that works remotely is challenging.
Building team collaboration amongst the remote workers and office employees can get difficult.
But with the advent of technology and different applications, the managers can get them implemented across their blended workforce and reap its benefits.
2. Tracking Compensation:
When you have salaried workers, hourly workers, consultants, contractors, keeping track of fair compensation may also be a challenge.
Many companies bring in specialized consultants to help them sort out all these contingencies, as well as issues like qualification for benefits and calculating taxes.
3. Tax Classification:
Classifying all workers correctly and following all state and central guidelines can be a challenge.
This problem can easily be addressed, however, by finding freelance talent through reputable sources and ensuring your company is prepared to onboard agile talent.
4. Schedule Coordination:
Getting everyone to work together is an issue!
Since most freelancers work as per their own schedule, they might not be available when needed during regular business hours.
It becomes important to communicate all the deliverables expected of them and a clear definition of common goals that have to be achieved so that everyone stays on the same page.
5. Culture Shocks:
Keeping a strong, positive company culture can also be difficult when there is a revolving door of contingent workers coming in and out of the office.
While contingent workers’ unique experiences and skills present positive opportunities, they also have the potential to bring their baggage from past work situations into the workplace.
Since they are not subject to the same expectations or management as permanent employees, it may be difficult to control negativity that threatens company culture.
Ways To Manage A Gig Workforce…
Here are some ways to manage your gig workers effectively!
1. Get To Know Them Better
Many companies fail to take the time to get to know their blended workforce, which sends a signal that you are not invested in them.
Create a set of questions and run through them with your contingent workers to give you a chance to get to know them better. Ask about their personal goals, what they hope to get out of their new role and their work style.
2. Assimilate Them All Into Your Work Culture
Non-traditional employees can struggle to assimilate in to new cultures or may bring their old culture with them.
Walk them through your mission, vision and company values so that they are tied to the same greater purpose that traditional workers share. Also, consider having a welcome kit that comprises of items reflecting your culture to help it resonate.
3. Keep Them Engaged And Involved
Include the entire workforce, including your gig economy workers, in team meetings, happy hours, volunteering events and other functions. Give them the same opportunity to participate in social and professional development teams and to be recognized for their contributions.
Make goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) clear to all groups. In fact, go a step further and create a measurement system where they are all assessed on a few of the same components.
4. Let Them Go Gracefully
When it is time for the temporary employees to exit, conduct a survey and ask questions about their time with the company, including how they would improve the experience for others in the same position. Compliment them on their performance, if they performed well, and invite them to come back for future non-traditional needs.
It is time to acknowledge the changes in the workforce landscape and cash in on the gig economy!