July 1st, 2022 | Sterling

The Blueprint for an Engaged Gig Workforce

Gig worker courier

The uncertainty of the pandemic has boosted the global reliance on gig workers, inevitably accelerating the speed of growth in this community – indeed, the gig economy workforce in England and Wales has almost tripled in last five years. However, the rapid pace of expansion of this flexible segment of the workforce, coupled with the complexities of hiring these individuals in a post-IR35 era where employers are more cautious, has meant that many businesses are unsure of how exactly they should go about attracting and retaining gig talent. Many firms are choosing a tech-led attraction approach, believing that this will work best for what is often a tech-led community. But while technology is certainly an effective tool to aid gig worker management, it must be combined with solid communication techniques if HR teams hope to attract and retain happy gig worker communities.

The Growth of the Gig Workforce

The gig workforce has been growing for some time now. However, there has certainly been a boom in the last few years and an expected growth of 300% in the number of food delivery businesses in the next 3 years . The pandemic has been a key player in this trend, forcing some workers placed onto long-term furlough or those out of a job to turn to gig opportunities to secure much-needed income. There has also been an upsurge in people re-thinking how they work and seeking more flexibility from their employment, ultimately taking matters into their own hands by considering temp or gig opportunities. These trends show no signs of slowing in a post-Covid-19 world. Consequently, the rise of gig workers, coupled with wide reports of talent shortages, has meant that some businesses are relying heavily on the temporary workforce to fill hiring gaps. But with competition for these individuals fiercer than ever, businesses are having to rethink their attraction and retention strategies.

Considerations for Attracting and Onboarding Gig Staff

A key challenge when it comes to attracting gig workers revolves around timing: the turnover of these resources is understandably high, as they come and go with project start and completion timeframes. Therefore, the initial attraction and onboarding process needs to be efficient enough to accommodate the fast-paced professional lifestyle of these candidates. Employers can more efficiently accomplish this by redesigning their application process to be quick and easy from start to finish. It’s important to remember that for these workers, time is money. Waste their time during the application process and they’re likely to seek work elsewhere.

The accessibility of the application process is also going to impact the number of applicants employers get. First things first — they need to question whether their website, job advert, and application can be easily viewed and submitted by mobile phone. A recent Sterling webinar found that 84% of the gig workforce used a smartphone to apply for their positions, so it’s worth noting that applications which aren’t mobile-friendly are more likely to have limited results and may see candidates drop out of the hiring process.

Utilising digital right-to-work checks will not only be key in making the entire process mobile-friendly, but can also help contribute to a faster turnaround while improving the candidate experience. Eliminating the need to physically verify documents will remove the usual lengthy paper process and enable applicants to instantly upload their documents via their device of choice, without having to switch websites. This simplification delivers a smoother experience for the candidate and prevents them from becoming disengaged during the application process.

Why Engagement is Key to Retention

When it comes to gig workers, HR teams are also facing another issue: keeping these communities engaged. With competition for the best resources high, hiring teams need to not only attract these professionals in the first place, but also keep them engaged, motivated, and loyal during the recruitment process and beyond.

For gig workers, the very nature of their job is to be flexible and adaptable. Therefore if they haven’t heard from the employer in a while, they could quite easily be hired by another business. On the other hand, gig work can also be isolating for some people, so regular communication is valuable to keep candidates engaged. Ensuring these workers have a touchpoint throughout the screening process, giving them a clear line of communication for any queries they may have, regularly updating them on the next steps, and explaining the process upfront, are all ways to keep professionals loyal to an employers brand.

Gig workers have become a prime resource for businesses, and while the temporary nature of this workforce may come with retention challenges, HR teams can begin putting processes in place to better attract and communicate with them to help foster a happier, longer-term workforce.. Having a setup utilising the right mix of technology as well as the human element will help keep temporary workers engaged and informed, and help them to more easily submit the required documentation to a potential new employer. All these factors will be key for HR teams looking for ways to fill their resourcing needs in an extremely – short labour market.

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.