The Gig Economy and how to effectively engage the contingent workers in your workforce
Following the recent ruling that Uber Drivers should be classified as workers as opposed to self-employed, many organisations will be reassessing the status of their contingent workforce to understand whether they are legally entitled to basic employment rights including:
- National Minimum Wage
- Paid holiday
- Protection from discrimination
As well as the grey area around whether an individual is classified as a worker or self-employed contractor, contingent workers are likely also to be casual workers, working zero hours contracts and may even be classed as employees depending on the exact content of any written terms and conditions in place. However, to focus solely on these technicalities around employment status and ensuring the minimal legal obligations are met would be to ignore the bigger and fundamental reason why these individuals are hired on a casual basis first place: to provide a flexible workforce than can be called upon as required to undertake work on behalf of the organisation.
Equally important is that this working arrangement is as beneficial to the organisation as it is to the worker, in that it compliments the worker’s situation to allow them the flexibility to pursue other interest or responsibilities – this will also foster engagement. However being employed on a casual basis should not preclude these workers from being encouraged to apply for a position that attracts more regular work if that would better fit their circumstances, and a responsible organisation will ensure that adequate training and opportunities as available are to their contingent workforce as well as permanent employees.
Regardless of whether an individual is working five or 35 hours, they are still undertaking work on behalf of the organisation, and very often representing the organisation, as many contingent workers are found in customer facing roles within the retail and hospitality industries. As such, for those five hours of the week, the individual should feel as included, recognised and ultimately engaged as much as a permanent employee working 35 hours. These are my top tips for engaging contingent workers:
- Maintain the flexibility & communication – this is one the major draws for individuals working as a contingent worker, and it is important that organisations recognise and respect this. Furthermore if the organisation has engaged an individual as a self employed contractor but begins mandating when and where an individual is to work, the organisation may find that they a crossing into ‘worker’ territory and must uphold some basic employment rights. However, the key to working flexibly is keeping the communication channels open between the employer and contingent workers and many organisations are embracing technology as a means to do this.
- Development Opportunities – contingent workers can often feel trapped in this type of work and responsible employers will ensure that adequate training is provided so that contingent workers can feel confident moving into a permanent position should that be more beneficial for their personal circumstances. However taking this further to offer them the same development and progression opportunities are permanent employees will help them feel valued and ultimately improve productivity.
- Rewards & Recognition – although the contingent workers may not be entitled to the same level of rewards and benefits as permanent employees, there are still a number options open to organisations to recognise the contribution made by contingent workers. Many of these are cost-effective and easy to extend to contingent workers as they are already in place for permanent employees, such as shopping discounts, voluntary benefits and peer to peer recognition.
- Technology – harness the power of technology to enrich the work life experience of contingent workers at your organisation, enabling them to feel more connected and included. Apps accessed via a smartphone can be an a great hub for all of your employee information, and accessible to everyone at any time. As well as providing a platform to for communication, they bring together benefits, discounts, job opportunities and learning all in one place. Platforms such as Innecto's Amplify provide not only a great user experience for employees and contingent workers, but also give useful insights to HR.
If you would like to know more about employee engagement or Amplify, please do get in touch! I can be reached at email@example.com, or call me on +44 (0)20 3457 0894.