How to Develop a Talent Strategy Inclusive of Gig Workers

In North America and Western Europe over 150 million employees are gig workers (Ashford, Petriglieri, & Wrzesniewski, 2018).  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 55 million people in the U.S. are gig workers and expect that number to grow 43 percent by 2020 (Hyken, 2018).  “Digital nomads — location-independent freelancers and solo entrepreneurs who travel to and work from different countries — are becoming an increasingly prevalent factor in the workforce.”   “In its 2017 CEO Survey (pdf), PwC found that 77 percent of CEOs surveyed, from 79 different countries, believed a lack of access to talent with the right skills was the biggest threat to their business.”  With many organizations facing a war for talent, and the landscape to find qualified employees extremely competitive, how will your organization find the talent you need to achieve your organizational goals.

Workers of the future will require an extremely different work model than what exists today.  Employees still want to work and earn a salary, however, they want to do so on their terms, allowing them the freedom to live a fulfilling life, without the commitment of being stuck in an office from 9 to 5 and having the flexibility to travel the world. 

How then can you structure your employer brand proposition to attract key talent to your organization while still meeting the employees' personal demands?



Most digital nomads working are doing so with no insurance.  Insurance for nomads either is extremely expensive to afford or not available at all. 

While finding a gig that offers you the flexibility to live your life on your own terms, it proves challenging to get insurance covering medical expenses.  To manage the cost of insurance when living with fluctuating income, nomads typically choose to live without insurance.  Gig workers are aware of the significant risks to their health when they don't have insurance, yet, many gig workers believe because they are young or relatively healthy, and going without insurance is worth the risk. 

In other cases, gig workers only visit doctors and hospitals for the most critical services.  For these services, they pay out of pocket.

As the war on talent heats up, an organization will need to consider insurance as a strategy to attract gig workers to their organization.  Alternative solutions such as partnering with organizations to provide a discounted medical insurance package or benefits such as gym and flexible workspaces to nomads will accelerate identifying and hiring the right talent for your organization.  Providing a suite of benefits to gig economy workers will demonstrate that you value the expertise and skills they bring to your organization.



Embrace gig economy workers into your organization as one of your own.  While many of these employees work on a W-9, and for tax purposes not considered your employee, they operate and work, sometimes daily, as part of your regular staff.  Treat these employees as a regular member of the team.  Employees can feel when they are not considered part of the ingroup.  For example, a colleague worked in an organization where her consultant was a critical member of the organization.  The consultant came in at least three (3) days per week to the corporate office.  The consultant's input into the organizational strategies was valued and had a significant impact on the employees and organizational performance.  However, the organization could have demonstrated more effectively how much they valued the consultant by simplifying the process of securing a location for her to work.  It's no surprise that she was coming to work, however, each time the consultant appeared it was almost as they the organization wasn't prepared for her.  Something as simple as having a dedicated workspace for your consultants can show your gig workers that you care and are including them in your culture.



Offer your employees and gig workers the flexibility to work in a manner that fits your business and their personal needs.  This can vary from allowing gig workers to work from home and ensuring that your organization has the capability and technological tools to allow them access to your network.  Make it easy for gig workers to work from where suits them best.  If you have satellite offices that can accommodate gig workers then allow them to work from a location that works for them.  Finally, trust your gig workers that they are responsible to do their jobs while not having to be physically down the hall from you.  This demonstrates that you understand the value you bring to the organization, demonstrates trust, and allows gig workers the freedom to be productive.



Most organizations who offer development to employees only do so for their fulltime staff.  However, with the future growth of the gig economy, organizations must rethink how they will develop their staff, all staff, including full-time, part-time, freelancers, consultants, and temps.  Providing development opportunities to all your staff will ensure that all workers adhere to your operating guidelines and your way of doing business.  In addition, you build the strategic capabilities needed for your organization to achieve your goals and have a plethora of trained resources to ramp up when needed.  When onboarding your employees into your organization it is recommended that you conduct a DiSC® profile assessment so that you understand your employees and how they will engage in the workplace, help them understand their DiSC® personality style, adapt to your organizational culture, and develop effective relationships in the organizations to work across their team, other functions and departments.


Next Steps

Creating an effective workforce strategy to attract digitally savvy workers is the first step to addressing your talent shortage.  The workforce of the future will be open-source and allow employees to work freely.  The people will be the driver of the employee experience.  Organizations will have to consider that all employees' needs, inclusive of gig workers, and design experiences that are fluid and align to the needs of the employee.  That will require a different approach on how we attract, develop and retain employees which require our organizational policies and benefits services to align with the future and provide services for all.