6 Essential Tips for HR to Hire Gig Workers
Research is increasingly pointing out to the growth of the alternative workforce – these days, particularly many millennials are opting out of traditional work patterns and are not afraid to take chances for job satisfaction. Broadly defined, the gig economy includes multiple types of alternative work arrangements – independent contracts, online platform workers, contract workers, on-call workers and temporary workers. When combined with factors such as increased workplace flexibility, a global, distributed workforce, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) – which all contribute to the future workplace makes it essential for HR to account for it while planning for the future.
Both out of choice and necessity, employers are choosing to hire gig workers. All the more now, with alternative work patterns like working from home becoming essential due to coronavirus, the gig workforce only likely to increase as more people seek self-employment. So even if your organisation is not engaging a significant number of gig workers today, there is a good chance this will change soon.
Manpower strategies are leaning towards a gig workforce also because of its additional benefits given the current times. For starters, it will significantly lower the company’s salary expenses as well as other employee-related overheads and possibly even result in the reduction of compliance costs, to have fewer people on the permanent payroll – something that is critical in these times. Besides, it ensures a more agile and adaptable workforce, also a need of the hour with so many uncertainties.
Both employers and employees are adopting the gig economy. At this juncture, I want to make a very important point that choosing to go the gig way must be evaluated in much detail. Simply transitioning to the gig way of work as a measure of cost control can bring with it many new challenges which in the long run will cost organisations dearly. And once you are ready, the question is how can HR prepare for a smooth implementation of a gig workforce?
Here are six essential tips for HR to hire a gig worker:
1. Begin with identifying suitable roles that can be gig-based:
Most of the organisations, be it small or large, opt for the contingent workforce when they have a clearly defined job role and responsibilities. These could be non-core roles which are project-based with clear outcomes. For example; accounting, IT, administration, social media management or highly skilled roles that may be project-based like setting up a leave management system, can all be done by people with expertise that do not have to be on the permanent payroll.
The HR team also has to identify what is core to the business that may not be suitable for gig work, based on security and confidentiality – for instance, if a company has taken on an IT project for the government etc. Keep in mind; it is not always so black and white either. For instance, a company may hire a full-time content writer, but if they need some content on a specific domain or product line quickly, they will prefer getting it done temporarily.
2. Formulate clear policies for gig workers:
Last year, the Karnataka government decided to formulate policies to ensure better working conditions for gig economy workers, after they received many grievances. This is a big indication of gig work becoming more and more of a norm than an exception. Companies have to consider different policies or create an entity (committee) to ensure better protections in place for taxes or other issues that may arise.
The different gigs may require a contract for each client and various policies to enact and follow based on the situation and the specific client. Some of the things companies have to include in the policy is drawing up clear engagement contracts, all-inclusive delivery-based payment terms, clear entry and exit norms, stipulated work period, consequences of non-delivery, separation policy.
3. Review HR processes to prepare for the gig worker:
Just because the gig worker may be on-boarded for a shorter time, skipping essential HR processes to begin work quickly will cause more harm to the project than aid in its completion. Once policies are in place, HR needs to have strategies to make sure that contingent workers are on-boarded and welcomed shown appreciation and helped to become more engaged with their work, even if it means spending a few extra days to allow the gig worker to fit in.
The HR team has to ensure clear processes from recruiting gig workers to existing them. – The recruitment process may be smaller but not feeble. The onboarding of temporary or project-based workers could be simpler but not skipped. The HR team must also have a process in place to review the project with more frequent feedback, and not confuse it with performance management. So yes, you are thinking in the right direction, if you are contemplating setting up parallel systems for this workforce.
4. Train managers to use gig resources effectively:
There is always a period of transition involved when people change their recruitment policies. Gig workers can rattle a team, and managers should be sensitive to that. Managers are also unsure sometimes. Approach it wrong, with unrealistic expectations about overcoming these fears, and managers can stoke distrust in a team, despite their best intentions. Managers need to equip themselves and use gig resources effectively.
Train your managers on the similarities and differences between permanent workers and gig workers. They need to be adept at assessing talent and performance. Top talent needs to be retained, moved to more challenging assignments, and repurposed effectively if need be after the end of the gig. The longer you can retain top talent, the more return you will get out of the recruitment and assimilation work. This also applies to gig workers. The longer you can retain top talent, the more return you will get out of the recruitment.
5. Repeatedly communicate the purpose of onboarding gig workers:
When your company is making a shift to using more temporary employees for different projects, it is crucial to convey the reasons and benefits of this shift to existing employees on the payroll. This transition should not result in resentment, reservation and demotivation. To avoid gossip or possible negative communication about the matter, it is essential to improve internal coordination about why the company is using gig workers for certain roles and to set expectations accordingly.
Trust rises from fulfilled expectations. People need to talk to each other to develop trust. Give full-time and gig workers opportunities to communicate informal meetings and casually converse. Exchanges of information enhance productivity and personal rapport. Teams with temporary employees need to know exactly what each worker is meant to contribute to the project, so they can hold each other accountable to shared definitions of quality and collective success. Feedback is also essential. The need for recognition and feedback is not limited to how employees are paid. Providing positive reinforcement motivates and engages while ensuring that the positive behaviour is repeated and shared – both for permanent and contingent workers.
6. Focus on culture-based training:
Culture is central to attracting high performing talent. This does not change when a company is looking at attracting good part-time talent. We all want to see results from our work, to contribute to something that lasts. Managers need to make the purpose of even short-term jobs clear: some of the questions gig workers have to ask themselves are – What are we here for? What is the goal? How will this affect customers? What makes us successful? Pointing a team toward a shared objective that is larger than themselves can create a more equal platform quickly. This will ensure that core values are not compromised and work is done in a specific way.
All indications are that the gig workforce is here to stay. Employers who learn how to tap this talent pipeline will be accessing a pool of skilled and productive workers. But success in managing the hybrid workforce requires leaders to think differently about their old, existing employee management systems. And the cornerstone of success is to manage workers based on their human needs for coaching, feedback and recognition, and not only focus on their compensation alone.
Providing a great experience for a temporary employee this year means they may return next year. This will eliminate the time and cost of searching for, interviewing and training another employee. An employee who enjoys their stint will spread a good word about the company and can also act as an informal ambassador. Finally, the gig worker of today can be tomorrow’s top permanent employee. Therefore having a good framework for them is extremely essential.
At Yellow Spark, we can help you build manpower strategies to optimise your workplace to make a steadfast comeback post COVID. To know more write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.