Stabilising the foundations of the gig economy

Many of the tools available today devalue talent and skills because they’re built for the business and not the contractor. File image.

Many of the tools available today devalue talent and skills because they’re built for the business and not the contractor. File image.

Published Nov 18, 2023


By Lindsay Cowan

Traditionally, gig and contract worker platforms have done little more than connect the dots between those who have work and those who can.

They’ve allowed for workers to find flexibility and financial freedom, but they’ve also delivered limited stability.

People using the platforms are chosen based on cost not skill, or they are fighting to be heard amid the clamour.

Many of the tools available today devalue talent and skills because they’re built for the business and not the contractor.

However, this narrative is shifting as platforms are increasingly paying attention to the workers, empowering them with digital tools designed to recognise their talent and capabilities within a highly competitive and demanding environment.

Independent consulting, contract workers and gig workers have embraced the flexibility of their working lifestyles because they get to decide where, when and how they work.

Companies are realising that if they want to navigate market complexities with a talented employee base that isn’t wedged within the cogs of the business, they need to find people who engage with the contract economy on platforms that prioritise changing needs and expectations.

On the surface, the contractor relationship is simple.

The business needs talent to step in and help complete a project so they select the right people, bring them on board for a set period of time and then say goodbye when the job’s done.

There are several factors pushing at the edges of the formula. Companies want people back in the office, they want more control over their staff, and they perceive contract workers as more expensive than full-time employees.

It’s normal for companies to default to what they know, but the world has changed and there’s no going back.

If companies want people only in the office, they lose out on accessing a huge pool of global talent with immense skill sets and capabilities. They also pay more for an in-office person over the long-term than for a skilled contract worker to come in, complete the project at speed, and leave. The old ways of working were built in an era without technology. Today, everyone is connected and technology can empower everyone to achieve more with greater flexibility and stability.

The platforms servicing contract workers also have to change. It can’t always be a cattle market where companies bid for talent and buy on price not quality, or where gig workers spend hours completing forms and pitching for roles that never materialise.

It’s a waste of everybody’s time. What you want is a subscription-based service providing companies with visibility into a catalogue of talent, so they can bypass slow recruitment processes and miscommunication around requirements by simply picking the right people from the outset.

Skilled people are selected for roles based on their talent, their skill sets and proven expertise. Companies are finding the right people to fill the gaps and plug the holes quickly and efficiently, no bidding, no complexity. HR can search for exactly what they need within a database of proven professionals, and the professions are not expected to fill out endless pitches and forms that largely go ignored.

There are several benefits to using the technology-empowered model to find and connect with talent. The first is time.

Organisations and gig workers save time with a streamlined process that respects the skills of the workers and the needs of the business.

The second is speed. Organisations find the right people quickly and there’s no broken telephone – teams find talent directly instead of waiting for requests to go through HR and recruitment.

Third, it’s candidate-centric. Personalised, relevant and targeted engagement with gig and contract workers allows for companies to build better relationships with highly skilled individuals.

Companies will always be looking for an intermediate hire, a stopgap, a smart and skilled individual to help them pull a project over the finish line,.

Platforms that prioritise and respect talent, using technology to empower people within the contract lifecycle, will connect companies to people who deliver high-quality work at speed, people whose work ethics and capabilities will drive growth and customer delight.

This is the real evolution of the gig economy, where contract work isn’t a vicious war for the cheap and desperate, but rather a seamless process of connecting exceptional talent to the business when it is most needed.

Lindsay Cowan is the CEO of One Degree.