Leadership in the Age of Gig Economy
By Kevin Jefferson
August 19 2021 - It’s no secret that the gig economy is changing the world of business for good. The number of freelancers is constantly on the rise, and today, they make more than one-third of the global workforce already.
This means more people are willing to abandon their nine-to-fives to try their luck as freelancers. However, businesses are also more willing to hire independent contractors instead of relying on in-house staff to do all the work.
Since businesses have to manage both their full-time employees and freelancers, managers need to reconsider their roles. Here’s what leaders need to know about the gig economy.
Why Hire Freelancers?
There are numerous benefits to hiring gig workers, and one of them is the fact that it’s simply convenient. With the rise in technological advancement, remote work, collaboration tools, etc., companies are beginning to see that they don’t need full-time, office-bound employees for everything.
What’s more, they’ve discovered the wonders of outsourcing. As a business owner, if you want to focus on your core responsibilities, you can outsource payroll, marketing, customer support, and much more. You’re bound to find a freelancer for any kind of job, no matter how specific.
Here are some of the most obvious benefits of working with independent contractors.
By hiring a gig worker, you get an established professional without having to pay for their training, benefits, leave, sick days, etc. What’s more, you get to save money on office space, supplies, and possibly even expensive equipment.
You also get to contact them only when you need their services and don’t have to pay them in the meantime. So instead of having a bored full-timer, you can enlist the help of a freelancer every once in a while.
Great for Project-Based Work
Some tasks just don’t require constant, everyday work, so as we’ve said, it makes more sense to hire a contractor when necessary. You can also enlist their help on a specific project until its completion.
For example, you may need a designer to revamp your website or brand, but you don’t otherwise need a full-time designer. You can get a freelancer to do it and even contact them on a yearly basis for maintenance and touch-ups.
As many as 61% of freelancers specialize in two or three skills, and 95% of them actively seek opportunities to learn and hone their skill sets. In other words, these people are usually highly skilled professionals who can adjust to your needs in a heartbeat, no matter how specific.
Since they usually work with a multitude of clients, they get to learn something new from everyone and incorporate it into their future work.
In-house employees might be more likely to slack since they know they’re on the payroll. However, when you hire a freelancer to do a job, it’s in their best interest to do it flawlessly. This way, they ensure they’ll get paid. They also build their reputation and potentially successful long-term collaborations with the clients they like.
Their diverse experience and dedication are a guarantee that you’ll get high-quality work from them.
What Do Freelancers Want?
Freelancers want what everybody else does: good terms of work, respectful collaboration, and fair remuneration. However, what makes them different from traditional employees are the values that made them turn to freelance work, namely:
- Work-life balance
- Freedom to work from wherever they want
In other words, gig workers love their sense of independence and freedom. That means you shouldn’t expect to be able to boss them around or micromanage them. Offer as detailed instructions as you like, give them a deadline, and watch them complete a task with flying colors.
Their independence in work is a great thing for you too because you can relax and let the pros handle any issue at hand without having to supervise them.
If you establish a great rapport with your contractor, you can even hope for long-term collaboration with a trusted partner.
How to Attract Freelancers
Enticing freelancers is, in many ways, similar to attracting other kinds of workers, except that you need to think about the way they work and choose their clients. Here are some tips to help you find the best gig workers.
Have an Efficient Hiring Process
Many companies take weeks and even months to narrow down their pool of candidates and select the best ones. That is if we’re talking about in-house positions. However, if you want to find gig workers for a job, you need to make your hiring process speedy.
They don’t have weeks to go through numerous stages and interviews, just so you can tell them they’re not a fit. Their time is quite literally money, and they’ll certainly take a job they can do now over another for which they need to go through a lengthy recruitment process.
"Website wizard" and "media master" might sound fun, but these job titles are extremely vague and don’t say anything about the job that needs doing. For freelancers to be willing to apply to your ad, they need to know what the job entails.
That’s why you need to be direct when seeking independent contractors. Make sure that the job ad has all the info they might need to know if they’re skilled enough or willing to do it.
Many businesses even opt to extend certain benefits to their contract workers. There’s no better way to say you value them and their work even though they are "outsiders."
For example, you may choose to include them in your group plans for health coverage or contribute to their pension funds. Since they are always on the lookout for opportunities to further their skills, you can even offer training or free courses to them. This idea is especially relevant for those who wish to establish a long-term relationship with their contractors.
As you can see, there are many ways leaders can start incorporating freelancer workers in their business ecosystem and benefit hugely from this arrangement.
About Kevin Jefferson
Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house and has become a successful blogger writing on PlainHelp. You can follow him on Twitter.