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How to Retain Talent in the Age of the Gig Economy

In today’s dynamic job market, the gig economy is on the rise, transforming how people work. As the gig economy grows, many employers find that they are losing employees to contract roles that can offer more flexibility and independence. According to 1099 tax forms, used to report non-employment income to the Internal Revenue Service, the total number of people who collected money from platform gig work, such as driving for Lyft or delivering for DoorDash, more than tripled between 2017 and 2021 (The Evolution of Platform Gig Work by the University of Chicago, 2023). The gig economy is here to stay, and employers must adapt to this changing landscape to retain their best talent. 

RelatedFinding Gig Workers to Fill On-Demand Roles – Talroo Blog

As more professionals explore contract roles offering flexibility and independence, employers face a unique challenge: retaining top talent in the face of this gig economy boom. There are so many options available to employees – and if you have hourly workers on your payroll, you probably already know that they can earn as much as you pay them by working for themselves. So, how do you retain talent with competition like that? 

RelatedOn-Demand Talent Platforms Are Your Competition for Hourly Roles 

Even though many gig workers don’t have access to benefits like workplace-provided health insurance or retirement benefits, which come from a traditional 9-5 job, when an employee is disengaged, unhappy, or unable to accommodate a set schedule, gig platforms are an option.

Strategies for Talent Retention in a Competitive Job Market

Consider why your employees are leaving. Are you asking the right questions in exit interviews? Do you know exactly why your employees are leaving? Are you collecting data from exit surveys? It might surprise you. In a new report from The Muse, 34% of respondents said they felt driven to search for a new job because of their employer’s toxic workplace culture, and just over a quarter also pointed to inadequate flexibility by management or lackluster work-from-home policies. Other reasons to move on included rising layoffs and the specter of future job losses, salary freezes, and lack of diversity.

After “fix your culture,” there are several areas to review that may make your company more attractive than working independently for a gig platform. 

Prioritize Employee Well-Being

Employees are drawn to the gig economy for its promise of flexibility. To counter this appeal, consider prioritizing employee well-being within your organization. This can include:

  • Flexible Schedules: Offer flexible work hours or remote work options to provide a better work-life balance.
  • Mental Health Support: Implement mental health programs and resources to support employees’ emotional well-being.
  • Healthcare Benefits: Provide comprehensive healthcare benefits to ensure employees access essential medical services.
  • Wellness Initiatives: Promote wellness through initiatives like fitness programs and stress-reduction workshops.

Create a Sense of Purpose

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report indicates that 50% of all employees must reskill by 2025. Whether employees find growth opportunities within your organization or outside of it depends on your ability to convince them that your company offers a career path that will meet their needs. Employees often choose gig work due to its perceived independence. To retain talent, offer a sense of purpose and belonging along with growth opportunities:

  • Company Culture: Foster a strong company culture that aligns with employees’ values and creates a sense of community.
  • Mission-Driven Work: Highlight how employees’ contributions are making a positive impact, reinforcing their sense of purpose.
  • Professional Development: Invest in employees’ growth with training, mentorship programs, and opportunities for advancement.

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Competitive compensation remains a crucial factor in retaining talent. Consider the following:

  • Market Research: Regularly review salary structures to ensure they are competitive.
  • Bonuses and Incentives: Offer performance-based bonuses and incentives to recognize and reward exceptional contributions.
  • Retirement Plans: Provide attractive retirement plans to support long-term financial security.

Transparent Communication

Transparent communication builds trust and fosters loyalty:

  • Clear Expectations: Communicate clear job expectations, roles, and responsibilities to minimize confusion.
  • Career Path: Discuss potential career paths within the organization, demonstrating a commitment to employees’ growth.
  • Open Dialogue: Encourage open dialogue and feedback, allowing employees to voice concerns and ideas.
  • Feedback Loops: Establish open feedback channels to address concerns and create a positive work environment.

Offer Gig-Like Flexibility

To compete with the gig economy, consider offering gig-like flexibility within your organization:

  • Project-Based Work: Assign short-term projects that allow employees to experience gig-like autonomy.
  • Flexible Contracts: Explore flexible employment contracts that provide options for part-time or project-based work within your organization.
  • Remote Work: Embrace remote work as an option for specific roles, providing employees with increased flexibility.

Stay Informed About Gig Work Trends

Know the market where your employees are located and understand what the gig economy offers in your area. Stay informed about gig economy trends and adapt your strategies accordingly:

  • Market Research: Regularly research gig economy trends to understand what drives professionals toward contract work.
  • Flexible Policies: Be open to adjusting policies and benefits to remain competitive in the evolving job market.

The gig economy is here to stay, and employers must adapt to this changing landscape to retain their best talent. By prioritizing employee well-being, creating a sense of purpose, offering competitive compensation, and embracing flexibility, organizations can retain top talent in the age of the gig economy while building a loyal and committed workforce.