What should business leaders change to thrive in the gig economy?
Over the past 30 years, the world has changed considerably in terms of technological advancements, economic uncertainty, political upheaval and job security, which has led to the creation of the ‘gig economy’.
It has become almost normal to hold multiple jobs or only secure shortterm contracts due to the increased ability to change jobs frequently and the uncertainty that the need for certain jobs roles will change.
For this reason, business factors such as employee engagement have become more important than ever, to encourage members of staff to stay and thus reduce unnecessary recruitment costs. I have suggested below two changes that business leaders can make in order to thrive in the rising gig economy:
1. Inclusion through employee engagement
Due to the rise of part-time staff, is it no longer acceptable to put emphasis on those who work full time. Managers need to understand the needs of everyone who work in the company, to ensure they feel included and valued. This extends to out-sourced workers or temporary, seasonal staff, who several years ago, would have slipped through the nets.
From First Line Managers (FLMs) to the service providers and managers, everyone’s needs and wants need to be fully understood and incorporated into business decisions. Many years ago, the key focus of work was to earn a living and although this is still very much the focus, people want more.
They want to feel included and valued, which is often achieved through open, honest relationships with managers. Not all members of staff are gifted with responsibility however being given the opportunity to feel included is likely to make them feel unreplaceable and thus meaning they are more likely to stay.
2. Shift behaviour focuses
With the growing gig economy bringing a much larger employee base, it can be extremely hard for managers to match individual people to specific roles that are being created. For this reason, there are three general behaviours that I believe are key to the success of any role in the professional environment; a relationship focus, putting the extra mile in and having a clear love for learning.
Managers need to be both capable of coaching employees to bring out their best and yet not afraid to thin out people who are not pulling their weight as successful companies in the gig economy cannot afford to carry people who are not putting in the work.
Everyone in the organisation from employers, managers, FLMs and those directly providing the customer with the service or product need to possess these ideal behaviours in order for the company to grow and develop, but how do you define them?
A focus on peer relationships means everyone is aware that the general well-being of each staff member lies with how well they form relationships with their managers. Open and honest relationships help to ensure everyone is on the same page and assures managers that any issues will be openly discussed instead of brewing and causing issues later down the line. Conversations on everything from their career goals, purpose and highlighting any unhelpful behaviours helps stamp out any misconceptions from the start.
A love of learning is essential to the success of any employee. It needs to become a way of life for each employee, as the most successful members of staff will never stop learning. They will attend courses, show curiosity and develop their skills beyond what is required of them. Above and beyond making them more employable, it brings self-enjoyment in what they do and encourages development in their careers.
Finally, going the extra mile involves members of staff working that extra hour when others wouldn’t. It means having the will and want to volunteer, offer support and help managers when they can. Working with peers who are willing to do this makes the working environment a lot more enjoyable for everyone as jobs are less of a strain. The rewards can be enormous and are guaranteed to lead to other opportunities within the company.
If managers and employers adopt these behaviours, other members of staff are likely to follow and the rewards won’t disappoint. The company as a whole will become more productive and efficient, whilst employees become more motivated and receive self-satisfaction with what they do.
I believe that making these very slight changes in the workplace will allow businesses to not only survive but thrive in the growing gig economy, where employee engagement and efficiency is more important than ever; leaving competitors behind.
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Nigel founded The Oxford Group in 1987 following a career in HR and business management with the Mars Corporation and Burmah Oil (now part of BP). Nigel is passionate about developing leadership capability in leaders of all ages, and writes and speaks regularly on this subject for audiences worldwide. He is the author of ‘5 Conversations’ and...