Increasing Employee Retention in the Gig Economy

The gig economy has been picking up steam for years, and it’ll be no different in 2018. While there are certainly kinks to work out in the model, workers and companies alike are enjoying the pros of project-based arrangements: freedom, variety, and experience for the workers; efficiency, cost-savings, and low-risk “employment” for organizations.

As “gigging” becomes more and more the norm, companies are beginning to rethink how they structure roles. At first glance, it appears that the way to adapt to this new world of work is to convert what would have previously been full-time positions into series of gigs. Instead of a full-time graphic designer, for example, companies may hire gig workers for individual design projects to be performed on-demand.

This is a perfectly acceptable switch for some types of work. But for more strategic roles, there’s no denying the value of a long-term employee. Workers steeped in institutional and industry knowledge — especially high-performers — bring context and focus to a job that a gig worker simply cannot. How do you hang onto these people, in a tight talent market in which the gig economy has set a precedent for control, choice and rapid development for workers?

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The answer is still gigs — but with some twists. Let me explain.

Offer Internal “Gigs” for Employees

What if you gave your employees the freedom to choose (or initiate) their own projects? What if you allowed them to join any team they wished? What if you built a culture in which employees gig-hopped their way to their career goals — internally?

This is how you will retain top employees. You offer the flexibility and opportunity a gig-based model affords, while increasing tenure and the overall experience and skill level of your workforce. By enabling self-development via learning assets, leadership opportunities, and stretch projects, you give employees a clear and customizable path to career advancement that doesn’t require seeking outside opportunities. This is the modern way: Start with people and match them to jobs, not the other way around.

So what does this approach look like within the organization? How can you create this sort of structure?

Use Data and Machine Learning to Intelligently Support Employees

It starts with assessing workers’ capabilities, interests, and career goals. From there, machine learning intelligently surfaces recommended projects, learning assets, and leadership programs that align with individuals’ long-term objectives. A smart platform gives employees visibility into existing teams they may like to join, and current and future internal roles (as well as the skills those jobs require) they may want to set their sights on.

Don’t have the technology to support this kind of structure quite yet? You can still make adjustments in the spirit of the gig approach. Prompt managers to deep-dive into their direct reports’ current skills and future goals, and to connect them with internal learning and leadership opportunities. Increase visibility across the organization into available projects, teams, and jobs, and promote self-selection. Communicate that the company is committed to supporting individual growth, and encourage employees to create their own development path within the organization.

Top talent is constantly looking to improve and advance, and the trend among these high-performers has been to move around every couple of years to continue to collect experience and skills. A structure based on internal “gigs” can reverse that trend, enabling employees to advance as they desire, while allowing employers to keep their best people in-house. It is truly a win-win.

MORE:  Why HR needs to be in charge of the gig economy

Matt Hendrickson

Matt Hendrickson
Matt Hendrickson is CEO of Ascendify,

Matt Hendrickson

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