The business landscape is constantly changing — the gig economy, in particular, has seen a lot of growth in recent years. It has emerged as an alternative form of regular employment, allowing workers to trade stability for immense flexibility.
The gig economy is still developing, and events like COVID-19 have made it more appealing as people transition to working from home. As it continues to grow, business executives are leading the charge toward a gig economy that can accommodate all levels of talent.
What Is the Gig Economy?
Gig workers complete contracted work and are compensated on a per-project basis. While they’re not earning a consistent paycheck, their flexibility is unmatched — not to mention their ability to be picky about the work they take on.
Understandably, that flexibility also appeals to executives. Here are nine ways they are taking part in the gig economy:
- Creating New Jobs
Job creation is always a hot topic. As the gig economy continues to grow, job availability in this sector will become an issue as well. Executives can pave the way for the gig economy’s growth by opening up positions in their organization for gig workers.
Executives can look over their company structure to determine where gig workers can make the best contribution, whether it’s because of specialized skills or because of one-off needs. Before looking to hire full-time employees right off the bat, they can reach out to fill those roles with contracted laborers.
This strategy of relying on the gig economy is less costly for employers in the long run. It may be worth their while to change their hiring approach in certain areas.
- Changing Performance Metrics
When coordinating with gig workers, measuring performance will require a different approach. Most companies require employees to be on the clock for a certain number of hours each week.
This way of measuring productivity will prove ineffective in the years to come. With the gig economy, the focus is on getting the job done well, not making the work extend to fill the time allotted.
Business executives are starting to measure performance by more than hours on the clock. If everything needing to be accomplished is done by the requested deadline, the number of hours put in isn’t as important. Focusing on results motivates gig workers who only get paid when the job is done.
- Making the Switch Themselves
Perhaps the gig economy’s least expected twist is the fact that many executives are considering joining it themselves. This role shift will cause them to be more open to the job creation mentioned above, but it might also shake up upper divisions of leadership as we know them.
After years in the demanding corporate world, a shift toward increased flexibility is enticing. A Mavenlink survey of executives found that 67% would leave their full-time job if a contract opportunity arose. Once a person has made it to the top of her company, the flexibility to continue working while pursuing other dreams, such as travel, is hard to turn down.
- Providing Training
Relying on and enabling the gig economy should be one and the same. As executives start working with contractors and freelancers more often, they can better pinpoint their needs and work to meet them. One of those is proper training.
Providing training for gig workers helps them maximize their job performance. This will improve the quality of work they do for the company, as well as promote company loyalty.
Employers need to think through how best to deliver that training: Would online tutorials do the trick? Is mentoring a worthwhile endeavor if a freelancer is becoming a more permanent part of the company?
- Building a Talent Pipeline
Much like internships, the gig economy can serve as a pathway for gig workers to earn their way to full-time status with your company. Once an organization is working with contractors on a consistent basis, executives can determine whether they’d like to offer them full-time positions.
Part of the reason the gig economy is less costly for companies is because they don’t have to offer full benefits to every worker on the team. Gig workers can typically earn more cold hard cash; some, however, may want to pursue other benefits that are valuable, such as health insurance. Offering benefits to gig workers is an incentive managers can use to encourage gig workers to become part of the full-time team.
- Treating Gig Workers Like Employees
Many business executives preach the importance of workplace culture. Building an inclusive one, they’re starting to realize, means treating gig workers the same way they’d treat any other member of the team.
There’s no reason to minimize gig workers or diminish their work. Freelancers and contractors provide a lot of value to the organizations they serve, particularly if they have skills or backgrounds not otherwise found in the company.
Providing these workers with support and resources builds trust. It encourages those contractors to continue giving their best effort, and it reflects well on your company to boot.
- Classifying Workers Appropriately
Classifying workers is a struggle executives face in the gig economy. COVID-19 has only amplified this challenge.
The pandemic dealt serious damage to certain areas of the gig economy, such as the ridesharing industry. These gig workers struggled to benefit from relief programs because they weren’t classified as “employees” of their respective companies.
In the future, the hope is that executives will be able to reclassify many contractors as employees. The more support leaders can provide to gig workers, the better the gig economy will grow.
- Being a Voice for Others
At the end of the day, being a gig worker isn’t a walk in the park. The flexibility can seem like fool’s gold when jobs are hard to come by or benefits are elusive. Several tweaks to the system can improve the lives of gig workers, and executives must lead the charge.
Business leaders can do things like offer benefits to gig workers, pay fairly, and lobby legislators for across-the-board changes. They can also be role models internally, from highlighting loyal contractors to complimenting their quality of work.
Business executives play a vital role in the gig economy. It’s up to them to empower gig workers — and the gig economy itself — to grow without obstacles.