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Four steps to hiring in the gig economy

Aug 25, 2019

The gig economy isn’t all about Uber and Deliveroo – more than a quarter of gig workers are doing professional work. Niamh O’Connor explains how you can hire and retain this talent pool for your own organisation's benefit.

The ‘gig economy’ refers to a labour market characterised by short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting. Increasingly, talent platforms, websites or apps connect workers looking for flexible work arrangements with companies who need them. Yes, it’s a buzzword, but the concept itself is here to stay.

According to the ESRI, 200,000 workers in Ireland were gig workers in 2018. While this level is tracking below EU average, there is no doubt that over the medium- to long-term, the future of how we work will continue to change at pace. In 2018, approximately 28% of all services delivered by UK gig workers was professional work such as consulting, legal advice and accounting services.

The availability of key skills is the leading business threat to growth prospects. According to PwC, 84% of business leaders are either somewhat or extremely concerned about the availability of talent. With that in mind, strategically assessing the effectiveness of your employer brand and your overall readiness to attract and retain gig workers is crucial.

Step 1: Assess your brand performance

A strong employer brand reduces cost to hire by up to 50%. Google your organisation. How compelling is your employer brand to a potential hire? How attractive is it to a gig worker? It is clear why they should they work for your organisation rather than your direct competitor? If your proposition is effective, you are five times more likely to engage prospective employees. 50% of candidates won’t consider working for a company with a bad employer brand, irrespective of salary.

Step 2: Create the gig experience

Attracting and truly leveraging the gig economy requires a different approach from employers. It requires more adaptable workflow processes and a seamless end-to-end gig worker experience from onboarding to payment. According to Deloitte, only 50% of Irish HR leaders feel they are effective in sourcing and managing alternative workforce solutions. We’re seeing more and more brands using their values (meaningful ones rather than just words on the wall) to assess gig worker fit and performance. Integration of gig workers while working on projects, collaboration and setting clear performance metrics are also key to leveraging efficiencies. An understanding of your legal obligations as an employer in this area is also critical.

Step 3: Advocate at every level  

According to the Gallup State of the Workplace report, 85% of employees globally are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Companies in the top quarter for engagement are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable. Typically your employees share the same network as prospective hires. Involving your employees and your gig workers as authentic advocates of your brand is a huge opportunity for organisations.

Step 4: Show me the money 

Rather than engaging with gig workers in a transactional way, organisations who strategically position and align their themselves as employers of choice when it comes to the gig economy will access exciting new talent pools. In addition to the savings to be leveraged by a strong employer brand, gig economy talent platforms can reduce the cost of hiring by up to 7% and boost output by 9%, according to McKinsey. Measuring and tracking a number of key metrics across the gig worker experience is critical for success.

Niamh O’Connor is the Senior Account Director at The Pudding.