May 25th, 2022 | Sterling

How to Attract and Retain Happy Gig Worker Communities  

The rise of the gig economy has been nothing short of stratospheric, fueled by the growth and demand for food delivery but now extending to all industries and types of work. It’s predicted that over the next three years this way of working will grow by over 300%. There are many lessons which companies can learn from gig, from the agile embrace of technology that has driven global growth and expansion, to the shift in the perception of how gig and contingent workers should be treated by organisations. In this blog post we’ll touch on the key points from our recent Sterling live episode.  

We were joined by our partners at Collective Benefits and Fountain to discuss how organisations can better attract and retain happy gig workers in the UK and beyond.  While the applicant experience has always been an important consideration, in today’s labour market, organisations are also locked in a battle for the best talent.

This means organisations should be more conscious than ever to keep workers satisfied and happy to remain in their roles, particularly as much of management’s focus historically has centered around metrics rather than the overall employee experience. But in these rapidly-changing times, when organisations hire, onboard, and work to retain talent at scale, it’s important for HR and operations teams to take an empathetic approach and also to remember that everyone is ultimately a real human being, not just a number.

Changing Times for the ‘Gig Worker’

It’s well-known that gig or contingent workers haven’t always had the same level of protection, benefits, or rights as employees. For example, according to research by Collective Benefits, 79% of platform workers report that they do not have access to paid sick leave – something which employees receive as a legal right, while 96% report they have no form of income protection. This is a serious concern when you consider that platform workers in the UK are exposed to three main risks. Namely, they are more likely to suffer from a physical injury or a mental health issue, they have less protection if these health issues were to occur, and they have fewer savings to support them through any financial shock.

This research highlights an increasing need and a clear gap, with 90% of respondents stating that they would value some form of benefits and protections over more pay. Consequently it’s clear to see why many organisations are turning to companies like Collective Benefits who offer insurance and benefits to a proportion of the workforce that has typically missed out.

In addition, a number of organisations are also setting up hybrid talent pools offering flexible self-employed contractors the opportunity to become full time employees. In this way these employees are still able to benefit from their flexible shift patterns while also feeling a part of the working community. Other businesses have seen the benefits of recognizing high achievers and by enhancing the working conditions for all. For example, the implementation of indoor break rooms, and providing workers with basic facilities and amenities (such as tea and coffee) can go a long way toward nurturing strong employee satisfaction.

Communication is Key

At the core of a great worker and candidate experience lies communication. This is a hot topic of discussion and was previously covered in our Sterling live and highlights blog. In the gig space, companies are having to adapt their communication channels and the way they communicate with their applicants. Some gig platforms have moved away from the traditional email in favour of native and digestible content (similar to the channels applicants engage with on a daily basis such as TikTok-style videos to explain processes, or harnessing messaging channels such as WhatsApp). It’s essential to keep applicants engaged throughout the hiring process, as many apply for multiple roles and even cross over to different apps for consistent work – so you may risk losing them along the way if they’re not kept in the loop. For most workers who are heavily reliant on smartphones to co-ordinate their work, it’s no surprise that in a joint report by BCG and Fountain that 84% of platform workers also use their smartphones to apply for jobs – highlighting the critical importance of a mobile-optimised experience to boost talent acquisition. For an applicant, getting a new job is an exciting prospect, so there shouldn’t be any obstacles getting in the way of that.

Technology-Enabled Workforce  

Good technology is the bedrock supporting many successful and scaleable hiring programs, especially in the gig economy but also far beyond. The sweeping efficiency gains provided by technology makes life easier and more accessible for hiring managers, partners, and applicants. For example, in the background screening context, Sterling integrates with partners like Fountain to ensure a seamless candidate experience, allowing for a customized approach to candidate communication which can be as formal or as informal as you like. This also features simple yet highly-effective elements such as electronic signatures, the pre-population of addresses, and the verification of a person’s identity online – all of which helps to speed up the background check process and improve the candidate experience. Automating the onboarding and hiring process in this way doesn’t have to mean taking an impersonal approach, but can save recruiters considerable time and energy. Meanwhile, dashboards enable continual status updates for the hiring manger and applicant alike, thus empowering both parties and expediting the application process.

We’ve covered several approaches your organisation can take to help attract and retain happy gig workers, from offering insurance & benefits, facilities, and recognition, to adapting your preferred style of communication and channel – all of which should stand upon a firm foundation of good technology built to scale. If you’d like to catch-up on the full discussion, you can watch our video here.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.