How can HR harness the ‘gig economy’?

Australia’s largest industry association offers advice for businesses seeking to utilise the growing freelance economy

How can HR harness the ‘gig economy’?
With the growth of the freelance – or gig – economy, the relationship between workers and businesses will continue to change.
 
To help firms adapt to these trends, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has published a report, The Emergence of the Gig Economy, outlining several key techniques for employers.
 
Loyalty in a fractured workforce
 
With the top freelancers in high demand, businesses will need to attract and retain the best to survive. This means instilling loyalty amongst freelance workers through a range of cultural and financial incentives to persuade them to remain beyond the end of their contract, the report said.
 
“Moreover, freelancers are relationship driven and will have a network of personal and professional contacts gathered from previous projects. They will often provide referrals and introductions to one another…”
 
Companies can utilise this and extend public awareness of the brand beyond permanent workers and into this expanding freelance talent pool.
 
Managing greater freelance numbers
 
As firms hire more freelancers, the need for a proper management system will ultimately grow, the report said.
 
“Talent should be viewed as a strategic investment and like any investment there must be a plan in place to engage and measure it to determine a path for future improvement.”
 
However, this area is not without its risks, the report said, citing a Deloitte study which found that the three greatest challenges for executives regarding the freelance economy were:
  • Legal or regulatory uncertainty
  • Contingent workers unreceptive to corporate culture
  • A lack of understanding amongst leadership
“In response to the complexities surrounding hiring and managing freelancers, freelance management systems are predicted to become standardised.”
 
A PwC report highlighted the importance of efficient systems and processes as well as maximum operational flexibility to properly integrate freelancers into the workforce.
 
“The 21st century workforce will present new uncertainties to HR and business leaders. Leading companies will need to tackle these questions to make freelance work a viable long-term option.”
 
A corporate restructure
 
As businesses learn to adapt to hiring more freelancers, it is likely that the overall corporate structure will be completely transformed as well, the report said.
 
“A core team will embody the philosophy, culture and values of the company whilst temporary workers come in and out on a project basis.
 
“Companies may undertake a blended hiring method: recruit generalists for in-house and use freelancers for specialist knowledge and skills that are unviable to build internally.”
 
Related stories:
 
HR is overdue a ‘creative reinvention’
 
Freelance rates booming – what does this mean for HR?
 
New workforce trends: The end of full-time?

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