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How to successfully navigate the gig economy

Whether you have a millennial in your life – or use meal delivery or ridesharing services – chances are you are familiar with the gig economy.

As our last post discussed, the workforce of today is certainly different in the past and will continue to evolve. And various studies – including one from EY – predicts that gig (or contingent) workers are expected to continue to rise over the next decade, particularly in the corporate world.

On occasion, our firm has assisted organizations in identifying a need for gig workers to fill roles that require specific expertise and/or to assist with major business transformations.

Based on our experiences and focus on the people side of change, what follows are five factors you should consider to ensure the gig workers you use to complement your workforce meet or exceed your expectations.

Identifying specific needs

Now more than ever, it’s important for organizations to be agile. This includes being able to access skilled talent to address evolving business environments.

That was the case with an oil and gas client we assisted with a major business transformation. They required expert advice and guidance for their IT service management area which couldn’t be addressed in-house.

With our assistance, they were able to recruit a consultant who added tremendous value to the organization by enhancing their employees’ skills through training and coaching, including real-life scenarios to build their expertise.

When contingent workers are required to fill a specific gap, digital platforms such as Catalant and TalentMarketplace are among the sites organizations search for skilled help.

Onboarding process

Gig workers – like any employee joining a company – require a proper orientation to ensure a smooth transition. Unfortunately, this isn’t always treated as a priority (the EY study reported 55% of gig workers surveyed didn’t go through an onboarding process).

We feel there is tremendous value in having onboarding in place that includes providing insight into the corporate culture, values and norms along with the key people and business areas they will be collaborating with during their assignment.

At the team level, it’s important that existing workers and gig staff develop a quick rapport to understand each of their unique needs and communication styles. This can be achieved through short huddles or in a social activity such as a coffee date or team lunch.

While this requires effort and planning, our advice is that it’s well worth it as it sets the stage for a collegial and productive work environment.

Setting clear expectations

Just as important as a structured onboarding process is setting clear expectations at the outset. This is best covered by a sponsor or direct report, though colleagues are also a good resource in highlighting the demands of the initiative or project.

The danger in underestimating this element is that gig workers sometimes can get lost navigating an organization, impacting their ability to meet the standards expected along with key deadlines or milestones.

Regular touchpoints

Communication is an important factor in a successful arrangement with gig workers and scheduling regular check-ins to ensure everything stays on track is recommended at the outset.

It’s been our experience that while gig workers have the ability to quickly acclimatize to an organization following an effective onboarding process, they require constant dialogue and direction just like core staff. Regular engagement throughout an assignment – not just at the beginning and end – can be beneficial.

Celebrating success

Whether they are permanent or on assignment, many workers derive a great sense of enjoyment and accomplishment when they see their efforts help contribute to positive outcomes. That’s why we recommend you invite gig workers to participate in staff functions to feel part of the team.

When an assignment comes to a successful conclusion, arranging a team or divisional celebratory function is always a great way to recognize their contributions. At the very least, it can enhance their perception of your organization and it may even lead to additional collaboration in the future.

To discuss ways to prepare for the future workforce, contact us at

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