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The gig economy currently employs more than 50 million Americans–34% of the U.S. workforce.

With an entire marketplace for gig work now easily accessible in apps and online, we’ve seen a boom in the gig economy. The gig workforce is adding $715 billion annually to the economy through freelance work, and researchers project that half of the working U.S. population will move into gig work within the next five years, according to an Elance report.

What does this mean for traditional employers? How will talent acquisition compete now that job seekers have countless options for work?

These questions came up in a recent webinar on the gig economy. Talent experts Courtney Gear and Cheryl Oxley shared insight on how talent acquisition teams can lean into, rather than resist the transformation taking place in today’s workforce. They also answered questions on how gig workers are impacting traditional businesses, and how traditional businesses are adapting the growing gig workforce.

How do gig workers impact a company’s culture?

Typically, gig workers are temporary and might work sporadically, or will work until a project is done and then move on. They usually aren’t performance appraised, and don’t receive training like a full-time employee would. But, if they’re interacting with your company on a regular basis, even for a short term, they’re going to have an impact on your culture.

The degree to which gig workers impact your culture will depend on their level of involvement, as well as how many gig workers you hire and how often you hire them.

If you use gig workers on a project-by-project basis, they will likely pick up on your existing culture, and it’s possible they will add their own outside flavor. Using a culture analytics tool, you can track culture changes over time and measure the impact that gig workers are having on your culture.

Culture is also important in companies that operate on a gig model. Gig workers may not have as many opportunities for team building and collaboration, but the social systems that guide behavior are still at play. A gig culture will likely reflect values such as Adaptability, and employees will tend to have higher levels of self-reliance and follow through.

How can you change the mindset of talent acquisition teams who view gig workers as job hoppers?

Talent acquisition or recruiters might make the assumption that gig workers are job hoppers, unreliable or unable to hold a job for long. Other common myths are that gig workers are lazy, uninterested in career growth, or only gigging because they can’t get a ‘real’ job.

But in fact, more than half of workers in the gig economy began freelancing by choice, not necessity. That’s because gig work offers flexibility, autonomy, and variety, which is appealing to people who dislike the more rigid corporate environment.

Talent acquisition teams can benefit from leveraging gig workers as an additional talent pool. In today’s economy, it’s hard to find good talent, so rather than disqualifying gig workers, talent acquisition can use this talent pool to fill positions faster.

It’s a mindset shift that has to happen if companies want to stay competitive, and it starts by thinking differently about what makes someone a good fit for the job. Keep in mind, too, that gig workers gain experience going from one gig to the next, and they get exposure to many different types of companies. This makes them a more well rounded employee who can bring a lot of value to your organization.

To learn more about how to win talent in the gig workforce, watch our on-demand webinar: How to Stay Competitive in the Gig Economy.

The Gig Economy

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