Recruiting and Retention in a Gig Economy: What to Expect in 2017 and Beyond

Entrepreneur Working on His MacBook

Independent workers, or freelancers, have always been part of most industries. For years, professional writers and coders have thrived off temporary positions with multiple organizations. It was simply a game of leveraging an ever-expanding network to find new opportunities.

But in recent years it has caught on like wildfire.

A 2015 Intuit study predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers, or an estimated 7.6 million, “will be regularly working as providers in the on-demand economy.”

While most of the country enjoys low unemployment figures, some questions linger: what will the workforce look like when more employees decide to work independently?

How will Human Resources technology adapt to as more workers turn freelance?

Most employers aren’t concerned with communication, expectation, and deliverables of freelancers. Recruiting and retaining top talent is, as always, at the top of their to-do list.

However, a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that “Workers who possess strong technical, management, leadership, or creative abilities are best positioned to take advantage of the opportunity to create a working life that incorporates flexibility, autonomy, and meaning.”

In other words, the same top talent organizations are investing in securing.

From an Organization’s Perspective

Since its inception, independent contractors have been widely viewed as dispensable employees who work on one campaign and are then left to find new work. It had become an accepted form of management and, when needed, utilized to temporarily fill a gap in hiring or meet a deadline.

It was an agreement both parties had come to accept, if not begrudgingly on part of the contractor.

With steady-building numbers and a resounding voice, independent contractors are beginning to find themselves in a position to make more demands than ever before. The Wall Street Journal reports that “contractors and consultants… demand to be treated with dignity and almost as if they’re your employee,” vigorously shaking themselves of the former “disposable” identity they had come to loathe.

As more top talent takes the leap into independent work, organizations must reframe their perception of a contractor’s role within the organization—an interesting evolution to watch for in coming years.

An Overdue Evolution for Top Talent

Take the alarmist nature above with a grain of salt.

Employees who excel at their work are simply finding more opportunities; their energies focused on more challenging and interesting work benefits them—and it should.

Positioning themselves towards better financial tides, great talent receives the income, schedule, flexibility, and benefits they seek. In short: they’ve become entrepreneurs within their respected industries.

It may seem uncertain how organizations will grapple with the growing trend, however those who see the opportunities will benefit.

What Becomes of the Workforce?

There is still room for uncertainty, of course. The idea of a gig economy instills thoughts of empty offices, those left performing menial tasks while their contemporaries increase their personal value.

The simplest way to regard the consulting revolution is in terms of career advancement. The consultant has reached a new stage in their career and is flourishing.

Organizations will “expand [the] talent pool to incorporate gig economy workers on vital roles,” according to a recent HR Tech Weekly post.

This, of course, raises questions about benefits, employee relations, training, and more. Questions that HCM software will undoubtedly come to address as the gig economy continues its expansion.

Existing full-time employees will see benefits as well. As recruitment strategies begin to loosen, organizations will focus attention on retaining full-time employees they’ve already invested in. A recent Forbes article offers that “companies that invest as much time and resources in the development of their talent will be the real winners in the coming years.”

Likewise, candidates once overlooked by organizations will be reconsidered as their peers turn to consultant work. The gig economy can benefit every party involved, so long as organizations understand how to leverage the new workforce.

Let the Internal Talent Search Begin!

If the gig economy teaches us one thing, it’s that niche skills are sought by multiple organizations. Employees should (if they have not already) harness unique skillsets to gain from the new order—especially if they are full-time employees.

By harnessing known and new skill-sets, current employees may find themselves trained and nurtured to higher positions within an organization—especially as more and more explore independent work.

2017 inches us closer to before-mentioned Intuit predictions, and they are not likely to be off my much. Start the year off by refining crafted skills and exploring new ones.

Leadership is watching and determined to retain as many employees as possible.


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The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures on The HR Tech Weekly®

I believe we are living through one of the best times in the history of work. Thanks to the advancement in technology and instant access to information, our generation has a greater sense of empathy, ethics, and values. In the past, job seekers would be looking for a place that would pay them well and give them good benefits. Now, job seekers are looking for organizations that have great cultures. Companies need to offer individuals a sense of belonging and a mission to accomplish something remarkable. With no culture, an organization, is not sustainable in the 21st century. I have come up with five elements that are essential to building and sustaining great organizational cultures. Those elements are: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership.

Purpose: Going back to the premise that we have a greater sense of ethics and empathy. We are less selfish, and we want to be a part of solving a problem greater than ourselves. We need to understand the why of what we do. Companies now need to have a strong mission statement where they can share the why with their team members. A great example that comes to mind is SpaceX, a company that builds rockets for space exploration. This is their mission statement: “SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Now… that’s a mission statement! That’s something bigger than anybody.

Ownership: The second element in building a great organizational culture is ownership. Ownership is about giving people the opportunity to be accountable for their results without being micromanaged. Giving people the autonomy over their time to accomplish their goals. Basecamp is a company that builds software for project management. They are a great example of a company that promotes ownership. They have an office in Chicago, but everyone has the chance to work from wherever they want. The CEO doesn’t know how many hours his employees work. They just set expectations and give people the opportunity to build their own schedules around their projects. But how do you keep people engaged with a sense of purpose? Well, you do that through the third element, community.

Community: Community is that sense of belonging to a group of people that shares the same or similar principles, goals, and values. Community is a place where there is camaraderie. Focus Lab is a branding and design agency that understands community. They have company standards instead of values. Their argument is that you can’t change a person’s values when they walk into your company, but you can uphold everyone to specific standards. Some of their standards are: work to live, ask more questions, and never stop learning. The culture of their company breaths these standards through their work. Building community is something as simple as having lunch and learns, hangout times on Fridays, and company trips. It varies from company to company. Community, is unique to each organization.

Effective Communication: The fourth element in building a great organizational culture is effective communication. Effective communication sounds like common sense, but through my work I have realized it is not common practice. It means consistency in processes and investing time learning the personalities and communication dynamics of team members. Google created a research project called Project Aristotle, where they found that the most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone speaks equally. In many of their engineering teams they have a list with checkmarks to make sure everyone is speaking the same number of times during their meetings.

Good Leadership: I would say this is the backbone of the cultural dynamics of any organization. The leader has to be constantly be pushing the mission, standards, community, and processes of the company. Without effective leadership the other four elements cannot thrive. People want leadership with integrity and compassion. People want authenticity. People want a leader who is clear on expectations. People want to know they have a leader who cares about them.

The elements I just mentioned are not new to people. People have always liked purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership. It’s in our own human nature. But now we found words to describe those things to build high performing cultures. I would like to encourage each of you to be intentional about applying these elements, and building great cultures in your organizations.

About the Author:

Andy Cabistan, Co-Founder at Watson WorksAndy Cabistan is one of the Co-Founders of Watson Works, a culture development company helping teams communicate and collaborate better. Andy is passionate about helping companies with diverse groups of people build high performing teams. Andy is a Business Economics graduate from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, and a master’s student in the Professional Communication and Leadership program at Armstrong. In his spare time, Andy travels around the country developing leadership programs with children of military families in partnership with the Department of Defense. Andy is also active in Savannah building the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He believes that entrepreneurship, technology, and a sense of community are key factors to make economies thrive.

Andy’s TwitterWatson Works’ TwitterWatson Works’ Website


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‘Next Generation’ recruitment technology start-up CandidateID going live

Hire Faster, Higher Quality

Disruptive ‘next generation’ recruitment technology start-up, CandidateID is going live to the market on 1st September 2016. CandidateID is innovative talent generation management software that promises to deliver the most accurate insights available for individual candidates in a company’s recruitment database. Founded by Scot McRae and Adam Gordon, CandidateID was recognised earlier this year as a company of significant scale potential.

Supported since March 2016 by Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Start-up Unit, CandidateID will be building a team of thirty in Scotland over the next twelve months in what will prove to be another exciting technology development for Scotland’s growing tech scene. CandidateID has been working on a private beta basis with a number of the world’s leading employers, and has assembled an advisory board which includes international recruitment leaders at Aviva, Barclays, Philips, Quintiles, Telefonica and Carillion.

CandidateID aims to improve quality of hire and reduce time and cost-per-hire. The software allows organisations to both create and communicate regularly with talent pools, as well as generate key individual candidate insights so recruiters know exactly who to talk to first whenever a vacancy arises.  The product’s candidate scoring system, the ‘IDScore’, allows unique insights that identify the candidate’s level of interest in new job opportunities, and means the hiring company can reach out to high quality, ‘hire-ready’ candidates.

Scot McRaeScot McRae is Managing Director of marketing automation experts McRae & Co who work with Spartan Solutions, Spoonfed, Iceptope and Jumpstart and Co-Founder of CandidateID. Scot said, “Candidate behaviour has changed and how candidates process important decisions is continuously evolving. CandidateID allows companies to adapt to these changes and approach candidates in a different way. Rather than casting a wide net, the unique scoring system allows recruiters to identify and target the candidates that are highly engaged with their content and the best fit for their organisation.”

Adam GordonAdam Gordon is Co-Founder of CandidateID and Managing Director of talent generation experts Social Media Search, whose clients include Thermo Fisher Scientific, Grant Thornton, Weetabix and Webhelp. Adam said, “CandidateID takes some of the very best thinking from sales and marketing and applies it to recruitment seamlessly. I’ve always said recruitment is a sales and marketing discipline and it’s now being proven. The thing that fascinates me most about CandidateID is its ability to score individual candidates’ engagement in real time so recruitment teams know precisely who to talk to first when the vacancy comes live.”


Further information or interview requests can be directed to Emma Baxter (emmabaxter@socialmediasearch.co.uk)

Three Findings from Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016 Report” for Recruiters

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016:

Over the past few years major disruptions have occurred in HR and corporate structures and organizations. Recently, Deloitte conducted a comprehensive global study of human capital trends and published those findings in a robust report titled: Global Human Capital Trends (GHCT) 2016–The New Organization: Different by Design. According to the researchers, “Sweeping global forces are reshaping the workplace, the workforce, and work itself.” The findings in this report are incredibly relevant and important for professional recruiters to be aware of and potentially take action on.

The data were compiled from more than 7,000 survey responses from corporate leaders in over 130 countries around the world. This blog post will present a few of the highlights from the report that will impact recruiting/hiring now and in the future.

The knowledge and wisdom gained from this study are two-fold for recruiting agencies, corporate recruiters, executive search firms, and/or legal search firms: (1) The study offers ideas for how recruiting agencies might want to run their businesses, and (2) The investigation provides many ‘nuggets’ of information into how your potential customers are running their organizations. If you have this knowledge it can only help you gain an advantage in the hyper-competitive world of professional recruiting. Part of running a successful business is truly understanding the ‘business challenges’ that your customers face on a daily basis.

The researchers begin by identifying 4 overarching changes that are affecting corporate structures: Demographic shifts (50-60% of workforce are millennials); Pressure for Increased Speed for Time to Market (rapid disruption of business models); Digital everywhere; and a Different Social Contract for Workers.

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The top 10 trends identified were: Organizational Design, Leadership, CultureEngagement, Learning, Design ThinkingChanging Skills of the HR OrganizationPeople Analytics, Digital HR, and Workforce Management.

Three of these trends (Organizational design, Culture, and Engagement) will be discussed. After summarizing the high points of the report on these three key trends I’ll point out ways these items will specifically impact recruiting and talent management.

Organizational Design & Structure

One key point of departure identified, in the study, was significant changes in organizational structure. The authors concur, “as companies strive to become more agile and customer-focused, organizations are shifting their structures from traditional, functional models toward interconnected, flexible teams.” Another way to think about the trend toward teams would be viewing them through the prism of a Hollywood movie production team and less like traditional corporate structures. Essentially, akin to a movie-set, people are coming together to tackle projects, then disbanding and moving on to new assignments once the project is complete.

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The implication for professional recruiters is re-thinking your organizational design in order to parlay the benefits of teams instead of the more traditional structure focused primarily on individuals doing specific tasks. In other words, professional recruiters would be encouraged to work together to connect talented people with amazing opportunities, instead of working ‘alone’ to achieve these goals (presumably working individually on a list of candidates and clients).

Here are a few suggestions that the GHCT study offers:

  • Looking at your organizations design: think about re-organization that includes “mission-driven” teams focused on customers, markets, or products. Perhaps it makes sense to assign a ‘team’ of recruiters/hiring managers to work on one specific job type or talent pool.
  • Critically analyzing your rewards and goals: think about your performance management around ‘team performance’ and ‘team leadership’ rather than focusing solely on individual performance. Moreover, reward people for project results, collaboration, and helping others. If a team is assigned to find talent for a specific client incentivize a team of 5 to get 25 placements done this quarter (instead of placing the task of each individual recruiter to get 5 placements on their own).
  • Implementing new team-based tools: put in place tools and measurement systems that encourage people to move between teams, and share information and collaborate with other teams. For recruiters this would mean structuring your firm in a way that encourages team members to work together to achieve company-wide goals for placements. Also, this would encourage communication and networking to ensure that the entire team/company is being successful.
  • Allowing teams to set their own goals: teams should be held accountable for results – but let them decide how to perform, socialize, and communicate these goals among the team. Instead of managers mandating what the goals are, allow the teams to collectively and creatively come up with ways to be held to account for their performance measurable’s.

Shaping Culture

Another vital trend in this study was the impact of culture on business strategy. The authors define culture as, “the way things work around here”. Also, culture is the system of values, beliefs, and behaviors that shape how real work gets done within an organization. As opposed to seeing culture as primarily an HR issue/problem, “CEOs and executive teams should take responsibility for an organization’s culture (with HR supporting that responsibility through measurement, process, and infrastructure).” Leaders should embody and actively engage in the kind of ‘culture’ they want their teams to reflect.

Interestingly, 28% of survey respondents believe they understand their culture well, while only 19% believe they have the ‘right culture.’ Change is so prevalent for organizations in 2016 that an effective culture can be the determining factor for if an entity can successfully weather the storms of change.

The implication for recruiters, in terms of culture, is ensuring that the executive leadership – in conjunction with HR – has thought deeply about the system of values, beliefs, and behaviors that shapes how placements are made within your recruiting agency. What are some ‘universal’ cultural values that your firm places a great deal of faith in? What types of qualities do you want your recruiters to look for as they place people? More specifically, GHCT encourages the following:

  • Prioritizing culture by CEO’s: Executives must clearly understand their company’s cultural values, determine how they connect to business strategy, and take responsibility for shaping them. Also, executives should routinely take their own inventory and analyze whether their own behaviors reinforce the desired culture.
  • Understanding both the current and desired culture: critical for leaders to examine current business practices to see how, and if, they align properly with desired culture. If there are practices that are counter-productive they should be thrown out and new ones implemented that edify the desired culture.
  • Measuring culture: Use empirical tools to understand employee attitudes and actions. HR should take the lead in this effort and get the results back to leaders for assessment (in a timely manner).

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Engagement – Always On

And finally, yet another trend identified in this study was employee engagement (which is closely tied to culture). Engagement is, “how people feel about the way things work around here.” The researchers also note that engagement is, “…a strong focus on listening to employees, workforce health and well-being, job redesign, and an enterprise-wide analysis of all dimensions of employee engagement.” Most companies still only evaluate engagement on an annual basis (64%), but in order to be truly effective managers and leaders should, “be proactive, implement the right tools, and give business leaders a continuous stream of data … and promote a culture of listening, and ensure that reward systems are consistent with engagement and retention goals.” True engagement means being ‘always on’ and continuously listening for what employees want and need from their jobs.

Engagement is also crucial because millennials are less loyal to organizations than ever before. Additionally, companies are tasked with a continued need to attract workers with technological and other specialized skills (as all companies digitize their businesses). And, finally, an organization’s employment brand is now open and transparent, so job candidates can easily see if a company is a great place to work (think of all of the “Best Place to Work” lists that are routinely populated on social media channels).

For professional recruiters the trend toward engagement can be meaningful in at least a couple of different ways. One, engaging all recruiters/hiring managers in effective ways can improve the culture/engagement/loyalty of team members. And, two, understanding the employee engagement of your customers (i.e., companies you are working to place candidates with) can aid in having successful placements where the candidate and the customer are both satisfied with the ‘marriage’. The researchers conclude:

  • inspirational201631Redefining engagement: By moving past the notion of turning your organization into a great place to work; also means “reaching down to the team and individual levels to foster highly engaged teams of employees doing work they love to do”.
  • Creating a sense of passion, purpose, and mission: Providing free perks can be nice, but companies that succeed in having highly engaged employees focus on driving meaning, purpose, and passion among their workers.
  • Linking compensation to engagement: Managers must get on board with tying team leaders’ compensation to their team members’ engagement. This sends a powerful signal and drives a sense of accountability about engagement efforts.
  • Doing “stay” interviews: In addition to having ‘exit’ interviews to find out why employees are leaving, also use ‘stay’ interviews to learn what it would take for an employee to stay at a company.

This article has outlined 3 of the 10 trends that the Global Human Capital Trends 2016 Report covers. More highlights to come regarding HR trends that will no doubt have long-lasting impacts on professional recruiters. Suffice to say, the landscape of work is changing rapidly and it is critical that professional recruiters are aware of the trends and adapt their businesses accordingly.

For more information on this study check out the Full Report.


Source: Three Findings from Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016 Report” for Recruiters – Crelate