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How To Keep Employees Engaged in the Gig Economy

The gig economy is a rapidly growing part of the economy today. An EY Contingent Workforce Study found that by 2020, approximately one in five employees will be employed on a contingent basis.

In that same time, 25 percent of organizations believe they'll hire to increase their contingent workforce by 30 percent or greater.

This trend is not without cause. Businesses have found that gig workers tend to be more engaged, innovative, and just as collaborative as their average employee.

Research by Ardent Partners reveals that 95 percent of organizations believe their contingent workers are critical to daily operations and their company's overall success.

Gig workers have become an accepted part of the workforce, but have employers kept up with their needs? Gig workers have not only taken the economy by storm, but they've also changed the landscape of work.

To keep these new gig workers engaged and involved, companies will need new tools.

This is what I'd like to discuss today.


The Need to Engage All Employees Equally

Paul Zak in his book Trust Factor recommends treating all employees as volunteers. Like volunteers, he says, regular employees may choose to leave at any time.

This is particularly true for gig workers.

It has become more important than ever to ensure that all employees, even contingent ones, have a positive employee experience.

One gig worker's negative experience with your company may not seem to matter, but negative news travels fast. Especially online!

But how do you give contingent workers the full employee experience?

You don't see them face-to-face, you can't provide them with office equipment or a nice office space, and you may not even be aware of what they truly think of the company.

That's why consistency is key.



All employees need access to basic HR services. HR departments often aren't involved in hiring contingent workers, but experts agree that's got to change.

Millennials are widely known as a job-hopping generation, but there are steps you and your HR department can take to minimize this risk.

HR needs to play more active role in hiring and communicating with contingent workers.

Research reveals that although millennials are still motivated by paychecks and willing to switch jobs for small increases, money doesn't necessarily have the ability to keep your workers in place. Purpose is more important than pay in retaining millennial employees.

Companies must now consider the intrinsic motivation when hiring employees. A gig worker who holds a shared purpose with your organization is more likely to stay and feel connected to the group.


The New Management

Managing employees in a gig economy era has shifted traditional staffing practices. A simple command and control hierarchy is no longer tenable.

Today, gig workers like millennials view the traditional manager role critically.

Successful managers need to shift their approach and focus on building trust.

Trust, along with the sense of a positive company culture, keeps gig workers engaged. The manager becomes less of a supervisor, and more of a mentor or coach, guiding contractors through projects as needed.

With the digital workforce, clear communication is essential.

There are fewer opportunities for the contingent worker to communicate and connect. That's where tools for video conferencing or real-time collaboration can help.

Skype, Google Hangouts, and Jitsi Bridge allow managers to communicate more readily with their mobile workforce, while Google Docs and OpenOffice give opportunities for real-time collaboration.


Appraisal and Recognition

Conducting appraisals is a tricky affair when a significant percent of your workforce isn't physically present. Annual performance reviews won't cut it anymore, and even large corporations are doing away with them.

Instead, companies are going with on-going evaluations and project-based appraisals.

Gig workers, like all employees, also appreciate recognition. Sharing good news with your contingent workforce, keeping all employees up-to-date with the company news, and communicating the results of their projects keeps gig workers feeling in the loop.


By Robin Smith, CEO and Co-founder WeGoLook

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