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4 Ways The Gig Economy Will Change Talent Acquisition Strategies

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Gigi Wara. Her opinions are her own. 

According to Fast Company, the first official Human Resources department was instituted more than a century ago in 1901. The reason: employees at NCR (the National Cash Register Company) went on strike, and the company owners didn’t want it to happen a second time.

Fast forward to 2018, and big shifts are on the horizon yet again. Only this time, employees aren’t sticking around to strike for better wages and perks. Now they just jump ship and join the gig economy instead.

So how can you attract top freelance talent and entice them to stay? This article will look at the major ways the gig economy is growing and how your company can adjust its talent acquisition strategies to attract the best and brightest of today’s freelancers to join your team.

1. Mentoring is no longer optional

If there is one constant you can set your recruitment watch by, it is this: millennials have taken over the global workforce from here forward. These statistics from Small Biz Trends are eye-opening:

  • One-third of millennial professionals work in the gig (freelance) economy.
  • As of 2015, millennials outpaced all other age groups in the current workforce.

But then again, here’s what The Huffington Post has to say about what might entice a gig-hopping millennial to stay put:

  • 72% of millennial workers aspire to become entrepreneurs.
  • BUT 79% of these who would be willing to work for an employer would consider doing so if the company offered more of a collaborative, mentoring experience rather than a strict corporate ladder culture.

In fact millennial workers not only want mentoring, but they expect it! They expect it because they believe they will not succeed in their career goals without it.

The first thing your company can do to improve your results for recruiting talent from the gig economy is to offer mentoring opportunities.

2. Flexible work is expected

Nearly one-third of all millennial workers state they expect to be working flexible hours throughout their career.

As Business Insider reports, this signals more than just a change in the traditional 9-to-5 work day. The entire language of what constitutes “work,” where it is done, when it is done and how it is done is changing too.

A “job” is now a “gig.” A job description is now a skills-based, value-added proposition. The stability of a five-year (or 30-year) career plan is now a free-form passion-driven quest for independence, collaboration and professional self development.

If it is suddenly starting to feel like there is no real middle ground between what your company offers and what the millennial gig economy workforce demands, rest assured there is.

You don’t have to revamp your entire HR system overnight. You can start small with how you handle the perks, such as flex time or flex workplace.

Flex time can be offered in many forms, from the every-other-Friday-off schedule some employers already offer to telecommuting options to setting up two or three different flex-time schedules that employees can opt into and all the way to agile working, which is basically a timeline-focused free-for-all that loads all the responsibility for schedule-setting onto the workers’ shoulders.

As for flex workplace, this can be met through making changes to the location in which your employees can work. Allow employees to work outside of the office or spend time in the creative outlets where they feel motivated to actually get things done.

3. Re-evaluate your workforce technology

Managing an independent, collaborative, flex-time focused workforce requires a different set of innovative recruitment strategies and technology tools than what has worked well for the workforce of past decades.

According to CIO, one of the most pressing technology needs for employers seeking to attract gig economy talent is a recruitment and hiring process that incorporates popular freelancer online job boards.

As CoBizMag reports, online management tools are also essential, including project scheduling and tracking, team collaboration and messaging, time sheets and payroll, training and assessment and similar other tools that cater to a remote workforce operating in different time zones.

When implementing online management tools, ideally in a cloud-based setting, IT security cannot be over emphasized. This holds especially true in the gig economy, where BYOD (bring your own device) technology is not optional. Your freelance talent will be using their personal smart devices and they may need access to your proprietary networks and software to do their jobs. How will you keep your data secure?

For a variety of reasons but most especially for IT security, identify a handful of online technology resources that can keep you connected, consistent and compliant when hiring gig economy talent.

4. Don’t discount yourself because you’re a startup

With an increase in startups from one year to the next, it may seem like your startup company is facing ever stiffer competition from the established employer next door. Even with the most innovative recruitment strategies, how can you hope to out-bid, out-incentivize and out-perk your competition?

The truth is, the gig economy favors startups over traditional employers. Millennials in particular crave the excitement and career development potential of being a part of something fresh and new that grows from the ground up.

As well, while it can seem like ever-larger segments of the 9-to-5 workforce are being lost to the gig economy, it is critical to remember two things:

  • Not all gig economy workers are there by choice. Some simply haven’t found their “right fit” as of yet, and are not willing to compromise and take a day job just to earn a pay check. In this case, the career opportunity they may be waiting for could very well be yours!
  • Even as traditional career workers are entering their golden years and retiring from their career-long day jobs, so too are many of these encountering the reality of longer life spans and greater income needs and choosing to return to work, albeit this time in a part-time, gig economy form.

As a small start-up, you may not have the deep pockets of its corporate competitors, but you are small and light on your feet and much better able to offer creative perks such as flextime, bleisure travel (business + leisure), telecommuting and mentorship than your cumbersome counterparts. Rather than focusing on what you can’t offer, focus on what you can offer – and then start offering it!

By staying open to recruiting from diverse international talent pools, taking a creative look at using workplace perks to attract gig economy talent and implementing technology that manages freelance/contract employees well, you will position your company to attract gig economy talent and retain them from job to job.

Gigi Wara

Gigi is a creative introvert and inspired writer based in Thailand. She currently writes content for The Work Loft. With her academic background and hands-on experience in business management, she has been writing about small businesses, startups and Digi-career improvement since 2012.

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