How to best engage your workforce in today’s gig economy

In this blog we explore the best ways to engage your gig workers using a modern digital workplace platform. From rapid onboarding to integrating them into your ways of working, get it right first time and your company will stand out in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace.

Employee engaging with her colleagues through a digital workplace

The rise and rise of gig working

The huge rise of the gig economy is truly staggering, but what exactly is the gig economy? The gig economy describes the practice of “gigs” – short term, flexible, temporary work in any domain. According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), as much as 15% of the labor market in Britain is self-employed, meaning an estimated five million people could be classified as gig workers. In the US, according to a Gallup poll, 36% of the workforce are seen as gig workers and these percentages are only expected to grow further. But why are there so many people turning to gig work?

One potential reason for the enormous rise in the gig economy could be related to the work itself. With so many more companies to work for, and a greater variety of work to do, short term, impactful project work can be perceived to be faster paced and more invigorating, with quantifiable end goals. This, in contrast to a traditionalist’s view of careers, spending ten to twenty years at the same company building value through internal progression, can be more exciting. But in a world of growing short-term contracts, how does an organization ensure they’re getting the most out of their gig workers when they don’t necessarily share the same values as a “lifer”? Cutting edge technologies may be the answer.

A modern intranet or digital workplace platform offers you the springboard to set up your new gig worker processes, create and distribute relevant documentation, while at the same facilitating a flexible and efficient working environment.

Four top tips to fully engage your gig workforce

#1. Rapid onboarding

Gig working, by its very nature, is fast moving. You may, for instance, be recruiting for a three-month contract, or you could have an urgent two-week job starting a day from now. Whatever the case, your department needs to be ready, with equipment and logins agreed upon ahead of your new starters’ joining date, and everyone, including hiring managers, in the loop. This could be a lengthy process, so as part of onboarding you could invite your gig workers to log in using their own personal identity provider, such as LinkedIn, to complete essential pre-onboarding activities.

You’ll want to streamline compliance with simple to understand documentation hosted on a dedicated page. With a modern digital workplace, you should be able to segment users by job roles and then create dedicated landing pages targeted to them, complete with related resources and information.

The key is to build a solid onboarding process that will make them feel at home and engaged from day one. Consider creating mandatory content which will require them to agree to the terms and conditions at the start. Onboarding needs to be fast-tracked, so quick start guides, starters checklists and up-to-date FAQs are ideal in helping them feel settled and ready to add value.

#2. Integrated digital workplace

Despite so many different options available on the market, we all prefer to use certain enterprise tools more than others. Ultimately, though, when a gig worker joins your business, they will need to quickly adopt your tools. By offering them an easy to access application library, via a single sign-on process, you’re helping to make application access and adoption more intuitive.

A modern intranet or digital workplace platform should always offer flexible options for employees. For instance, you may want to set up a dashboard-like homepage with integrated activities in one place, making it easier for gig workers to perform transactional activities, such as rapidly filling out and submitting timesheets.

Integration can also be the gateway to superior communication and collaboration. Give your gig workers rapid access to collaborative tools, so they can set up or join meetings from anywhere or contact their team and search for any project updates. Don’t forget that your integrated experiences need to look equally great on any device, as your gig workers are likely to want to work from different locations and not just the office.

#3. Facilitate autonomy and remote working environments

"I’ve found that what keeps gig employees engaged is true flexibility. If they suddenly find themselves with a clear weekend and nothing much to do, they can clock up the hours then and give themselves time off during the week. This is the sort of deal they expect."

Kathryn Kendall - Chief People Officer at Benefex

Also relevant is an Indeed Hiring Lab study which found that searches for jobs with the terms “work from home,” or “remote” have shot up in recent years.

Gig workers now expect a flexible, fluid work environment and the freedom to choose where and how they work - at their desks, on the train, at home or in a foreign country having a business meeting; whatever the case, they need a seamless working environment and a secure way to log in from any device.

Locking systems down behind a firewall will not help your gig workers in working flexibly. Gig workers have often invested in their own devices, so in order to facilitate a more flexible working environment, you’ll want to allow them the freedom to log in from their own devices, enabling them to add value rapidly from any location and on any device.

#4. Targeted experiences

Your gig workers will expect corporate communications to be highly relevant to them. For instance, a five-year plan might be of general interest to the whole company, but it may not be as useful for a worker whose gig ends in a month’s time. What might help them more are links to quick start guides, useful contact details and a document store featuring the latest company policies. This is where targeting becomes essential.

You’ll need an intranet or digital workplace platform which offers deep targeting and personalization features. It should allow you to set up dedicated hubs for your gig workers and then go further and target various pages in that hub because gig workers, like everyone else, have different needs and requirements. For example, some of your gig workers might need rapid access to their shift rotas so dedicating a section above the fold of your landing page would be highly advisable.

Another way to reach your gig workers is to take advantage of a variety of communications channels. A readily accepted comms channel is email, so having a way to send out targeted email newsletters could be highly effective. You could even feature links in your email newsletters which go to your dedicated landing pages, creating a complete user journey around their real-world needs.

Looking to empower your gig economy workers?

With the gig economy growing, and showing no signs of slowing down, you might want to look at adopting a modern digital workplace platform. If this is something you’re interested in, talk to one of our experts - we’d like to show you exactly how HR can benefit from our digital workplace platform.  

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