It’s been labelled ‘The Gig Economy’… the significant increase in the amount of contract or temporary work across Australia and New Zealand and it’s not slowing down any time soon. An Uber driver might spring to mind, but the trend is finding its way into less expected areas. Big guns like Samsung are reported to be using online freelancing to source marketing staff and hunt down niche designers and IT specialists. In actuality, if you are not a full-time employee in a full-time job, you are part of the Gig Economy.
As these jobs don’t fit neatly into specific categories, it’s difficult to measure exactly how large the gig economy is. But there is no arguing that it’s growing much faster than traditional employment and it looks like it’s going to stick around. The time has come for all employers to shift the way they think about the labour market. If HR departments can adjust to dealing effectively with the implications, they will see opportunities to minimise costs and more agile workforces. There is a growing pool of talent seeking meaningful employment through project work and temporary contracts.
How can your business leverage workers in the gig economy?
- Flexible work arrangements
If you’re not quite ready to start introducing freelancers to your workforce, there is still one trend you can’t ignore… the growing desire to work flexibly. It’s no secret that workers are at their most productive when they experience work satisfaction … and that work satisfaction is tied to flexibility.
Microsoft Australia enable their employees to work from a location that suits them and has helped develop a culture of trust and accountability. They say, “work is something you do, not a place you go to.” It’s reported that this has resulted in benefits such as bottom line improvements and reduction of office costs. More importantly, it brought an increase in employee productivity, satisfaction and engagement.
- Win top talent
To capitalise on the true benefits of temporary workers, you need to attract and retain the cream of the crop. While getting them on board in peak times and only engaging them for a specific project seems ideal, if they are going to be required beyond their contract date, you will need to still strive to instil loyalty with cultural and financial incentives. If you don’t, the best talent will be taken by the competitors. In the same vein, don’t forget the network of personal and professional contacts they will have gathered from previous engagements. This will bring referrals and introductions and the surge in co-working spaces has further intensified word-of-mouth networking.
- Restructure the workforce
Consider undertaking a blended hiring method by recruiting generalists for in-house work and using freelancers for specialist knowledge and skills that are impractical to build within. Your core team will embody the culture and values of the business whilst temporary workers can come in and out on a project basis.
Be mindful of the “sham contracting” laws under the Fair Work Act 2009, which forbid the misrepresentation of employment relationships as independent contracting relationships. Consider the following questions before embracing the gig economy in your business:
- How do you pay and allocate costs for these workers?
- What’s your process for tracking deliverables and milestones?
From the monotonous to the multifaceted, the steps involved in adding these workers to your workforce may require significant thought and process updates.