The gig economy has again been hitting the headlines, with courier company Hermes announcing the creation of a new worker status, ‘self-employed plus’. This move, considered by many to be a huge step towards a fairer gig economy, guarantees minimum wage and holiday pay to its drivers without affecting their self-employed status.

With labour shortages already biting in some sectors and many businesses relying on the flexibility that gig workers offer, organisations would be wise to follow in the footsteps of Hermes and re-think their strategy towards this valuable resource. By 2020, it’s predicted that the gig economy will be worth £2billion in the UK alone, meaning those who engage with gig workers properly now will stay ahead of the curve.

Illustration of Cezanne HR software in different tablets

Make them feel part of the family

In this modern job-hopping work culture, it’s not unusual for contractors to stay with your company longer than permanent staff – freelancers can stay at the same company for years. It’s important to invest in both equally, and not to slip into the mindset that contractors are just short-term hired hands. It’s a mindset that needs to permeate the whole company, so may require training for line managers or a shift in company culture.

Help them get up to speed fast

Onboarding – the process of introducing new employees into your company – has been found to both boost employee productivity and enhance retention and loyalty. However, a 2019 survey of HR professionals by HR software company, Cezanne HR, found that 60% of companies either didn’t include, or didn’t think they included, gig workers in their onboarding programs. The investment doesn’t need to be huge, but it does need to be focused, and in your time not theirs, so they get real value from the activity.

Provide performance feedback

The nature of the gig economy (remote working, always on the move, limited face time with colleagues etc) can make it difficult to provide contractors with feedback. But it’s frustrating for them to hear nothing back from you. Have they delivered what was expected of them? Could they have done it better? How did their work fit into the project as a whole? Would you use them again, or recommend them to someone else?

Even gig workers on short-term contracts benefit from the reassurance that they’re meeting their goals, whether it’s through a formal performance review, or an informal chat. For long-term contractors, having an open dialogue about their development can help keep those, who may have otherwise felt isolated or out of touch, engaged with the task at hand, and will drive loyalty and productivity as a result.

Make sure your contract terms are clear

As the infamous Uber trial back in 2016 shows, it’s important that you operate within the spirit as well as the letter of the law. Employers should take note of Uber’s mistakes, and ensure that contracts are fair, easy to understand, and can be enforced. so that no nasty surprises or legal disputes arise further down the line.

Embrace digital

According to PwC, more than half of 18-34 year olds in the UK would work in the gig economy. This generation have grown up with information at their fingertips and – for the most part – will be happy to engage with you online. Today’s HRIS software often include tools that specifically cater to remote workers such as; easy access to personal data, online documents and payslips; automatic notifications when tasks, such as timesheets need to be completed; company newsfeeds and mobile apps.

Some also come with features, such as onboarding, absence management and performance management, that are flexible enough to cover the needs of all types of workers, allowing you to benefit from simpler, streamlined processes and a comprehensive view of your complete workforce.

Chris Wells author image

Chris Wells