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Creating an Inclusive Culture for Gig Workers

In January, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule that will force companies to treat some workers as employees rather than less expensive independent contractors. This move has riled business groups and will likely prompt legal challenges. The rule is widely expected to increase labor costs for businesses in industries that rely on contract labor, such as trucking, manufacturing, healthcare, and app-based gig services. The rule will require that workers be considered employees rather than contractors when they are “economically dependent” on a company.

As this unfolds, many employers are reevaluating how they classify contractors and whether or not they can afford to convert contract employees into full-time employees. This raises a bigger question: Can employers create an organizational culture that will appeal to workers who are used to working for themselves?

The short answer: It can be done. But it must be based on intentional, ongoing, leader-driven initiatives that appeal to a subset of workers who are used to setting their hours, goals, and objectives – and seeing a more immediate payoff from their work. What your company is offering has to beat that.

Why Recruit Gig and Contract Workers?

First, talent shortages in many industries are ongoing, and finding qualified talent is challenging. Second, gig workers have emerged as pivotal contributors to organizational success. Their flexibility, specialized skills, and adaptability offer companies unparalleled advantages in navigating today’s business terrain. However, to harness the full potential of gig workers and integrate them seamlessly into the fabric of your organization, it is imperative to foster an inclusive culture that acknowledges their unique needs, motivations, and contributions.

Related: How Recruiting Technology is Revolutionizing Gig Economy Hiring | Talroo 

As recruiting and HR professionals, we are responsible for spearheading initiatives that promote inclusivity and create a nurturing environment for all workers, regardless of their employment status. Whether your company leverages gig workers on a project basis or transitions them into full-time roles, prioritizing inclusivity is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity.

Understanding the Unique Needs and Motivations of Gig Workers

The first step towards creating an inclusive culture for gig workers is understanding their diverse needs and motivations. Unlike traditional employees, gig workers often value autonomy, flexibility, and variety in their work assignments. They choose the gig economy for its freedom and the ability to control their schedules, projects, and work environments.

To effectively cater to the needs of gig workers, HR professionals must engage in proactive dialogue and seek feedback to comprehend their preferences and concerns. Conducting surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews can provide invaluable insights into the drivers behind their decision to join the gig economy and the factors influencing their satisfaction and engagement levels.

Related: Recruiting Strategies to Engage Gig Workers

Moreover, recognizing that gig workers are not a monolithic group but individuals with varying backgrounds, aspirations, and circumstances is essential. Tailoring policies and practices to accommodate this diversity ensures that every gig worker feels valued and respected within the organization.

Implementing Inclusive Policies and Practices

Once armed with a comprehensive understanding of gig workers’ needs and motivations, HR teams can begin implementing inclusive policies and practices that facilitate their integration and success within the organization.

Transparent Communication: Establishing open communication channels is paramount for building trust and rapport with gig workers. Providing clear expectations, project guidelines, and avenues for feedback fosters a sense of belonging. It ensures alignment between organizational goals and individual objectives.

Equal Access to Resources: Ensure gig workers access the same resources, tools, and support systems as traditional employees. This includes training opportunities, professional development programs, and technology infrastructure necessary to perform their roles effectively.

Recognition and Reward Systems: Recognize the contributions of gig workers through formal acknowledgment programs, performance incentives, or bonuses. Celebrating their achievements publicly boosts morale and reinforces their sense of belonging and commitment to the organization.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Embrace flexibility in scheduling and project assignments to accommodate the preferences and constraints of gig workers. Offering remote work options, adjustable deadlines, and part-time opportunities enhances their work-life balance and satisfaction.

Inclusive Company Culture: Foster a culture of inclusivity and collaboration that transcends employment status. Encourage cross-functional interactions, team-building activities, and networking events that connect gig workers with full-time employees, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.

Practical Strategies for Inclusive Integration

In addition to implementing inclusive policies and practices, HR professionals can adopt practical strategies to ensure that gig workers feel valued, supported, and integrated into the organizational culture.

Onboarding and Orientation: Develop a comprehensive onboarding program tailored explicitly to gig workers, providing them with essential information about the company culture, values, and expectations. Assigning them a mentor or buddy can facilitate their assimilation into the organization and alleviate feelings of isolation.

Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-in meetings with gig workers to assess their progress, address concerns, and solicit feedback on their experiences. Listening to their input and acting upon their suggestions demonstrates a commitment to their well-being and success.

Building Community: Create online forums, chat groups, or social media channels dedicated to gig workers, allowing them to connect with their peers, share insights, and seek support. Facilitating opportunities for networking and knowledge sharing fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity among gig workers.

Continuous Learning and Development: Invest in the professional growth and upskilling of gig workers by providing access to training resources, workshops, and certifications. Demonstrating a commitment to their long-term development enhances their job satisfaction and strengthens their loyalty to the organization.

Feedback Mechanisms: Establish mechanisms for soliciting feedback from gig workers on their experiences with the organization, including areas for improvement and suggestions for future initiatives. Incorporating their input into decision-making processes demonstrates a culture of inclusivity and responsiveness.

Organizations can create a supportive environment where gig workers feel valued, respected, and empowered to thrive by prioritizing inclusivity and adopting these strategies. Embracing the diversity and unique contributions of gig workers enhances organizational performance. It fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration, and mutual respect.

Related: How to Retain Talent in the Age of the Gig Economy | Talroo 

Cultivating an inclusive culture for gig workers is a moral and strategic imperative in today’s competitive landscape. By understanding their unique needs, implementing inclusive policies and practices, and adopting practical integration strategies, HR professionals can create a workplace where all workers, regardless of employment status, can flourish and contribute to organizational success.