Keeping your gig workers engaged

I don’t want to tempt fate by talking about the apparent decline of Covid and our returning liberties, but it’s safe to say, we seem -for now at least- to be moving in the right direction!

By: James Blair on

In any event, regardless of pandemics and restrictions, gig working is something that’s been on the increase for some time now, and whilst we’ve all read articles and blogs a-plenty about how to communicate with our newly/temporarily/permanently dispersed workforces, there doesn’t seem to be as much about on how to keep our gig workers informed and engaged.

After all, the Gig Economy offers clear advantages to both the workers (who want the flexibility that it affords), and their temporary employers, who don’t have to worry about the associated staff costs when those workers aren’t needed in the business.

Just in case clarification is needed, the Gig Economy describes the practice of opting for temporary, short-term “gigs”) with multiple companies instead of the more traditional long-term career options with just a few (or even a singular) employer. With many companies looking for shorter-term support with projects, the work can be deliciously fast-paced and exciting for those who aren’t too risk-averse. Estimates place the number of self-employed in the UK at about 15% of the workforce, or around 5 million people.

The advantages to the employer are plain to see – they only need to pay for the work when it’s needed, and there are fewer, if any, of those pesky employee benefits to consider or fund! However, there can be one big concern: how can you get the best from your gig workers when, by the very nature of this relationship, they are unlikely to have the same commitment to the cause or values as permanent employees?

Speed is the key

This is just a fleeting relationship. Therefore, speed and readiness are everything. A leisurely onboarding, spread over many days in Basingstoke with Maggie from HR, with equipment “on its way when it’s ready” and “Matt from IT sorting your log-ins when he’s back from The Algarve” just isn’t going to cut it.

Rather, all relevant departments need to be briefed and good-to-go before our gigger’s start date. Are your comms channels set up to support a robust onboarding and induction (remotely and/or in person) that will make your new starter feel welcome and fully engaged right from the start? Have you considered all relevant compliance requirements? Is it going to engage, inform and present you as a slick, professional and modern outfit?

Access All Areas

…Well, all required and appropriate areas, anyway! Your giggers are going to need easy access to all the relevant tools, resources, colleagues and employee platforms that will be used as a part of their role. For simplicity, integrated or accessible through a single portal is preferable.

It’s fairly common for giggers to use their own devices and, of course, to want to work flexibly (in terms of both location and time), so access to IT, HR and employee platforms needs to be secure but not locked down behind a firewall run by some sort of Terminator. Only allowing them in from a single approved IP address (that Basingstoke office?) and during the hours that IT are on site, is going to ruin this relationship before it’s begun.

Recognition still matters

In order to secure that buy-in to your business goals and that afore-mentioned commitment to the cause, it’s important to make your gig workers feel a part of the organisation for the duration of their stay. The chances are, they will be having quite an impact during their time with you (that is why they’re there, after all) and these efforts, along with their achievements and successes, should be recognised and appreciated. Not only will this give the giggers a sense of belonging and encourage them to do more of the same, but it will show your permanent staff why they’re there and what they’re bringing to the party. It can even lay some ground-work in getting permanent staff to follow that lead and ease the wrench when the gigger leaves.

A peer-to-peer recognition scheme that gives everyone the opportunity to recognise everyone’s efforts, regardless of business outcomes, is an ideal tool for a mixed workforce of this nature.

Tailor your Comms

You need to be selective in the comms that you share with your gig workers. They will expect what they receive to be relevant and helpful to them. They will not want to wade through longer-term strategies or distant plans for which they will not be around.

Tailoring and targeting your comms to them doesn’t have to be an arduous task if your comms channels are carefully set up for this purpose.

There’s no sign of a slowdown in the ever-growing gig economy, so if your business is the kind that currently capitalises on this dynamic, creative and knowledgeable workforce, or is likely to in the near future, then setting yourselves up for success with them now will absolutely maximise your returns from them.