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While many companies still pack their ranks with full-time employees, others are changing things up, adding part-time workers, contractors and gig workers to the mix. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that gig and contingent workers make up nearly a quarter of the global workforce. By 2025, they will account for 35-40% of the workforce.

This changing state of the workforce presents organizations with a new challenge: how to attract and retain gig workers. Traditionally, companies focused their retention efforts on full-time employees. But as companies shift their workforce strategy, making sure gig and part-time workers stay loyal to the company has taken on new importance. 

Here are a few tips on how companies can retain top gig workers, make them feel part of the company and increase their loyalty. 

Attracting Top Talent Amid the Pandemic

Developing a global brand is the most effective way to attract top talent, said Peter Panayiotis, chief marketing officer at London, UK-based Talent Network, a platform that connects freelance management consultants with firms.

But not everyone can be the next Apple or Amazon. "Therefore, the next best approach would be to seek out and recruit top talent rather than to attract it,” Panayiotis said.

Attracting the cream of the crop means improving branding to capture gig workers’ attention. It also means stepping up recruitment initiatives to find the best possible talent pool. Flexibility plays a key role, too.

A 2019 study by researchers at Yale University found that flexibility was the main driver among gig workers and the more employers understand that the better gig workers perform.

Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr can be good places to start locating gig talent. Different platforms tend to work for different kinds of workers with Upwork and Fiverr being particularly useful for web developers, marketers and photographers, Panayiotis said.

"The best strategy really depends on the time and resources you have at your disposal as well as the type of role you’re looking for,” he said.

Related Article: Digital Transformation Came for HR. Where Do We Go Now?

Strengthen Onboarding and Set Expectations

Once companies have done the heavy lifting of attracting candidates, it’s necessary to onboard them. Just because a new employee is a gig workers doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from knowing the company they will be working with.

Panayiotis, for instance, believes in preparing the onboarding process beforehand. He says that companies need to “map out a process for onboarding employees to help automate the task of onboarding. After onboarding, an employee always ask him or her how the process can be improved or simplified.” By asking your gig workers how the process was, you also gain insights on the effectiveness of the process and how workers feel about it. 

To achieve success from day one, managers and HR professionals need to know what success looks like and how gig workers can achieve it. Teams with gig workers need to know exactly what is expected of them so they can be held accountable and have a clear definition of success.

"To keep gig workers loyal you need to be very straightforward about your expectations as well as the work policies," said Malte Scholz, co-founder at Hamburg, Germany-based Airfocus. "I don’t like to be too strict with gig workers because they usually have multiple projects and cannot commit just to one client. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t want results. It just means I am more flexible in the process.”

Offer Constructive Feedback

Freelancing or working gigs gives workers an unparalleled amount of flexibility. But it often comes at a price. It can be lonely, solitary work, especially if managers don’t provide them with enough feedback to assess their performance. Feedback is a must for gig workers, said Yaniv Masjedi, chief marketing officer at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Nextiva, a provider of communication and customer relationship management tools.

“Nothing beats at making a skilled professional beam with pride and joy than seeing the client like their output," he said. "I recommended being transparent with the client’s feedback including negative ones. It encourages gig workers to strive harder to meet client expectations.”

Another important part of feedback is speed. If it takes too long to reach employees, they miss an opportunity to improve performance.

Related Article: Flexible Work Is the Future: Is Your Organization Ready?

Loyalty Is Not About Tenure

For gig workers, loyalty doesn’t mean staying at the same company for 20 years. In fact, sometimes the most loyal employees are those who understand the transient nature of the job and strive to accomplish their goals. In this context, loyalty often results from honesty, transparency and a relationship that works on both sides. In the end, it doesn’t matter if a gig worker stays for a month or a year. What matters is shared values.

“When I look for gig workers, I am seeking a combination of strong professional skills with some of the core values I nurture in my company,” Scholz said.