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How Employee benefits can keep gig workers engaged

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

The working world is in a state of flux: thanks to leaps and bounds in digital technology, the traditional nine to five is fast becoming an option rather than an expectation and flexibility is the future that many organisations have already embraced.

Today, the UK labour market is characterised by short-term contracts; the landscape irrevocably changed by cultural shifts and technological evolution. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an estimated 15% of the British workforce is self-employed, with around five million people classified as gig workers. In this brave new world, Employers are turning to the growing gig economy for ad-hoc support from independent experts. The result? Less overheads, more agility and a welcome boost in productivity.

However, with this new opportunity comes a challenge: while Employers may have a long list of tips and tricks up their sleeve to keep permanent workers engaged, instilling passion and motivation in an army of temporary workers who may not even be present in the office is a whole new ball game. If they are to get the most out of their tenure, Employers must ensure gig workers are as connected mentally as they are digitally.

The question is, how?

Create an induction process for gig workers

According to research from EY, 55% of gig workers do not receive any form of on-boarding. Of course, this figure is hardly surprising: since a contractor is an independent agent by nature, Employers expect them to come equipped with the skills necessary to complete the task they’ve been assigned to. And most of the time, they do – but training is not the same as an induction.

They may not require a three-month bedding in period to “get to grips” with their new role, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any form of introduction to the organisation. Even a scaled down version of your onboarding process will help your contractor to connect with the company culture and feel a valued part of the journey.

Recognise and reward their contribution

Gig workers may not be in it for the long haul, but just like permanent employees, they value feedback on their performance. If their contribution has improved customer satisfaction or helped the business to grow, let them know! Positive feedback helps a gig worker to feel less like a gun for hire and more like valuable talent. In turn, they feel encouraged to keep performing to a high standard as opposed to getting the job done as quickly as possible.

Your end goal may not be staff retention, but if they have done a great job on a particular project, you’ll likely look to them in the future for a new requirement. Celebrating their success will aid in providing them with a sense of purpose; that the work they delivered was appreciated in the business.

Check in on their wellbeing

The intransigent nature of freelance work can often wreak havoc with a contractor’s work-life balance. Couple this with remote working and its easy for a freelancer to burn out too fast. If you’re eager to engage your gig-workers, make sure to check in with their wellbeing: they may not be in the office, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the pressure.  Even a quick call or email to ask whether anything can be done to alleviate stress can help make a gig worker feel at home during their temporary contract.

Beyond this, it’s the little things that can make all the difference: an invitation to a staff dinner, inclusion in company updates and involvement in group chats can all help to make a freelance worker feel like a valued addition to the company.