Gig workers and organizational culture – Is there a gap and how to bridge it?
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Peter Drucker once said. And leaders from companies that are at the forefront of innovation often credit their organizational cultures while launching transformative new products and services. An organization’s culture including the ways of working and norms at the workplace – is often intangible and critical to the success or failure of a company. But is that culture going to be disrupted with the rise of gig workers?
An analysis showed that the rate of hiring “full time” workers among S&P 500 organizations had slowed down since 2009, post the recession period. In yet another survey, employers in the US pointed out that on average 17 percent of their workforce is contingent. And in 20 percent of the organizations, the gig worker population accounted for at least 30 percent of the total workforce.
While employing contingent workers isn’t new for most organizations, their share of work is increasing and they are actively involved in specialist roles which are critical to the strategy of the company.
As one EY study puts it, “What happens when a job for life becomes a job for a day?”
Move beyond the transaction
Ravin Jesuthasan, Managing Director at Willis Towers Watson said “Organizations are actively engaging their gig workers so they can move beyond a transaction. The rationale for this is to build a relationship that ensures the ongoing engagement of the gig worker with the mission of the organization.”
Companies that are employing gig workers need to continuously ask themselves – What is the state of their relationship with the gig worker? Are they only being engaged selectively for work? Or is there on-going communication and connect that’s being nurtured?
“The key here is to help all talent (employees or otherwise) see themselves in the organizations missions and purpose. And to transcend the traditional transactional relationship,” Jesuthasan said.
A talent management strategy for gig workers
“As HR continues to focus on deeper engagement with traditional talent, which is tough, this type of engagement is even more challenging,” said Annie Weckesser, Chief Marketing and People Officer, Uniphore.
At a time when the focus of most talent leaders is on delivering the right employee experience, there’s a need to extend that conversation towards gig workers too.
“Communication is key. To the extent that it is legally permitted, gig workers need to have a similar employee experience as your traditional workforce with onboarding and offboarding and understanding the company’s vision, products, processes and culture. Gig workers who are informed and who align with the company’s goals and recognize that fact, are more productive,” Weckesser said.
Companies are already employing technology tools to help them manage the process. At EY, the company launched a product called “Gig Now”. “It is a global solution that helps EY transform the contractor hiring experience and it helps build quality contractor talent base,” said Bin Wolfe, Managing Partner of Talent for EY in Asia-Pacific.
“The tool is driving outcomes of improved quality of contractors, risk management, cycle time, analytics and cost savings. GigNow is built for purpose by leveraging advanced technologies, processes, team and analytics, and allows our GigNow recruiters to source, match, hire and engage high quality contractors,” she added.
With the rise of gig workers, the focus is establing and nurturing the relationship. “Companies are inviting gig workers they work with to company picnics,” Jesuthasan said, “This enables the worker to build a more personal connection with that manager who emails her with assignments but whom she might never have met.” To focus on maintenance of the culture, and enabling a learning culture – in a way that gig workers have the ability to come in for a short amount of time and do great work is going to be a key.