The freelance (or gig) economy is here to stay. There are a growing number of people who think their work is undervalued and are willing to piecemeal their work to various companies in the form of short-term contractual labor in order to meet the compensation they deem appropriate for their work. This could be for a number of reasons including high unemployment rates, low wages or lack of specialized work in one’s local area. For whatever reason, the gig economy is expanding, and business owners need to be ready.
There are a number of potential benefits to hiring gig workers, also often called freelancers. First, a gig worker provides highly specialized labor on a short-term basis. If a company has a need for a marketing specialist but cannot hire one or doesn’t have the time or resources to train one, then hiring a gig worker would provide the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to complete the work until they can find the full-time employee they’re looking for. Alternatively, if a business has some kind of work that needs to be done regularly but does not justify a full-time employee, the business might hire a gig worker to do the work as needed.
Since a gig worker is an independent contractor and not an employee, cutting ties with a bad apple is typically much simpler. Simply not renewing a contract or not hiring for future work is enough. Of course, I will always preach consulting with a lawyer in any case where liability is a significant risk, and that applies here as well.
Of course, there are also potential drawbacks. There are various legal challenges to hiring gig workers, and I would encourage you to seek the counsel of a lawyer before you make any decisions. Does the gig worker define their own hours? Do they supply their own computer systems, software and other equipment? This and similar issues could redefine the freelancer as an employee. Misclassification can get you into some (expensive) hot water very quickly.
Hiring A Freelancer
So how do you hire a gig worker? There are numerous websites and apps where freelance work is the focus. Today, a simple internet search regarding hiring gig workers reveals significant results. There are some websites that act as a go-between for gig workers and employers. These websites generally either charge the gig worker or the company attempting to hire them (or both) for the convenience of connecting them or they charge a transaction fee for the payments to the gig workers. There are also heavily marketed personal websites that show work portfolios and contact information for the freelancer that owns them.
Retaining A Gig Worker
Once a gig worker is hired, there is a chance that they could be drawn to work for another organization. Of course, you want to make sure that the top talent is putting time into making your business better. So how do you encourage them to stay?
Things like giving company-branded stuff, providing a pleasant experience while working with you and offering enough work to keep them interested will go a long way. Think outside the box here. Give something that will make you the company they want to work for.
Getting Stuff Done
At the end of the day, if you have work that needs to get done but cannot find or afford an employee to do it properly, consider a gig worker. They are typically highly skilled people with proven records of success in tasks like data entry, virtual assistance, marketing, sales, human resources, finance, accounting and even executive leadership. I would encourage you to do a bit of reading and determine for yourself whether hiring gig workers is right for your business.