The gig economy has grown to incredible heights and continues to change the future of work—especially when it comes to the point where talent meets technology.
And speaking of the gig economy, SIA hosted its Collaboration in the Gig Economy event last week in Dallas. Along with ClearEdge CEO Leslie Vickrey, I joined leaders in staffing, RPO, VMS, MSP, supplier to staffing and workforce solutions buyers for this three-day conference to share knowledge and gain insight into this important topic.
And even though it seems like all I do these days is attend conferences (it’s been a busy fall already!), I find myself energized by the collaboration within the industry and the ideas that arise during these, sometimes intense and always useful, conversations.
Here are my three key takeaways from this year’s event.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Takes Center Stage
The size of the global gig economy was estimated at $3.7 trillion in 2017, SIA President Barry Asin told attendees during his keynote speech last week. According to an August 2018 Gallup research poll on the gig economy’s growth, 36% of US workers have some form of gig work arrangement in 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, roughly 11% of US workers had an alternative job. Bottom line? It’s here to stay.
The overall sentiment among keynote speakers was simply this: in order to successfully compete in today’s gig economy, companies need to be agile, versatile and strategic about candidate and employee engagement—and artificial intelligence (AI) could be the method in which this is achieved.
Take a close look at your business processes and determine how AI may improve or enhance your success. If there are areas that can benefit from incorporating AI, take action, but make sure you have the full picture. Implementing AI technology just to say you have it may actually harm your business if you don’t understand the business impact long-term. Like all technology solutions, take the time to learn how it can benefit or enhance the process, understand the longer-term road map and get buy-in from key stakeholders before pulling the trigger.
Collaboration is Key
We’ve all heard the saying, “Collaboration is key,” but seeing it in practice at the conference really reminded me that if you want to successfully grow your business/network/knowledge base that partnership is a beautiful thing.
Take technology, for example. There are so many different technologies out there that it’s confusing to a lot of companies. As people try to figure out what they need and whom they should work with, my recommendation is to demonstrate how your solution or offering can work in partnership or harmony with other providers or technologies (as appropriate).
Online staffing/platform companies and staffing firms have a lot to learn from each other and both can reap the rewards of collaboration.
Consider partnering with or learning from global workforce solutions providers, technology providers (VMS), staffing agencies or ATS providers to ensure you’re covering processes from beginning to end. So much of the confusion today seems to come from trying to determine what your company needs in order to attract and manage gig workers. By incorporating perspectives from various suppliers, you may start to form the foundation of what can become a successful program.
Employer Branding Takes a Backseat with Gig Workers
Kelly Coleman, Talent Acquisition Operations and Contingent Labor for Home Depot and Karen Thrasher, Manager of Talent Acquisition for Southwest Airlines joined ClearEdge’s CEO, Leslie Vickrey on a panel called, “Building Your Brand as a Gig Economy Employer.” Not only is employer branding a hot topic as a solution to the problems of buyers of contingent and gig work, but understanding how to build and manage your own reputation for being a great gig economy destination is vital to success.
Interestingly, many companies have created their own internal initiatives to manage contractors but are not specifically creating employer branding initiatives for that audience. While I certainly see the logic behind creating separation between the two given the complexities that can sometimes arise from contract work (and the fact that gig workers aren’t actual employees), I can’t help but wonder if there’s a huge opportunity being missed by excluding employer branding from the gig worker conversation.
Time will certainly tell but my gut feeling is that the companies who strike early and include contractors as part of their overall employer brand strategy will be the ones to succeed when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
Overall, I found this conference to be incredibly valuable, especially given the representation of companies who use gig workers and the providers of the talent. Certainly, one could predict that the number of attendees will continue to grow as the gig economy grows—and if proven true, the ideas that come from both sides of the equation will be mission critical.
The gig economy presents an opportunity for leaders and workers to collaborate and redefine the way traditional work is done and I’m excited to see where the future of work takes us.