Any time a new path forward emerges, there will be those who question where it leads. It’s easy to assume this stems from a general fear of change, but many times it simply reflects a need to know more. This is something we often see with the high-end gig economy, which, despite the well-documented advantages it offers for big companies, still has skeptics.
For those who have yet to tap this vast resource, caution is natural. But when you’re the one who can see the opportunity clearly, it can be tough to understand why others in your organization hesitate―which makes the challenge of inspiring action that much more daunting.
Gig economy myths
Knowing the specific ways in which highly skilled independent talent can bring value to your organization is the first step. Next, you’ll need to present it to stakeholders in a way that allays concerns, acknowledges change, and outlines a plan for successful execution.
Let’s start by looking at the most common questions that executives and senior leadership have when it comes to bringing independent talent on board, unpacking the misconceptions that tend to underpin those questions, and outline how best to address them.
1. How do we know they’re qualified?
What they mean: If they’re so talented, why don’t they have a full-time job?
This misconception usually arises among people who associate gig workers primarily with the service industry (e.g. ride sharing) and manual labor-type jobs. The fact is, independent talent spans a wide range of industries, skill sets, and experience levels.
A recent report by applicant tracking platform iCIMS Inc. found that 82% of contingent workers said they have at least one current contract job that’s knowledge-based. Beyond that, the top tiers of the independent talent pool are populated by highly skilled, highly experienced individuals who are often leaders in their field.
So why don’t they have full-time jobs? When BCG Henderson Institute conducted a large-scale survey of the global workforce last year, it found that most of the freelancers surveyed “do not choose gig work for lack of better options.” The top three reasons they choose independent work are:
- The opportunity to spend time on more meaningful and interesting tasks
- To be self-employed
- To fit full-time work more flexibly around private needs.
Similar surveys by professional services firm EY and the McKinsey Global Institute echo these findings, as does our own internal research. Business Talent Group’s independent consultants, executives, and experts hail from Big 3 consultancies, top boutique and specialty firms, and the Fortune’s 50 most admired companies. They have deep expertise and cutting-edge skills, and they are independent by choice.
2. How will this affect our culture?
What they mean: Will our full-time staff feel threatened?
This is a reasonable concern, as permanent employees sometimes perceive contract workers as their potential replacements. The way to resolve it is through teamwork and communication, which happen to be two of the top skills that independent workers bring to their projects.
Field Nation’s Future Workplace Nation Research Report found that nearly all companies surveyed (93%) “have noticed more freelancers teaming up with traditional employees to work on projects together, creating a blended workforce where staff members who are focused on core business areas can partner with freelancers for effective execution.”
On the flip side, forging ahead without adequate human resources can be just as detrimental to employee morale, if not more so. By communicating how independent talent will enhance, rather than replace, your full-time workers’ roles, you can provide necessary reassurance and increase internal support for blended teams.
Additionally, an enterprise-wide talent management platform can help create a formal channel through which to not only source top talent, but also to seamlessly integrate on-demand workers into your business in the most effective way possible.
3. How do we know they’ll be effective?
What they mean: Will their results be as temporary as their contract?
Interim executives and independent consultants are highly goal-oriented. They operate like small, self-contained businesses, which makes them strongly motivated to deliver lasting results. After all, their reputations depend on it. Plus, the independent nature of their employment arrangements helps improve productivity: they won’t bill you for time they don’t work.
The McKinsey report mentioned earlier concludes that “a shift to independent work enables people to specialize in doing what they do best and raises their engagement. This has the potential to make them more productive, both through better skill matching of the right person for the right job, and higher employee engagement.”
There’s a reason why more and more companies are turning to on-demand talent to fill expertise gaps on specific projects and during periods of growth and transition: they’re seeing real, lasting results. Want real-world evidence? Look no further than our online library of case studies about on-demand talent.
4. Wouldn’t a full-time hire be better in the long run?
What they mean: Why let all that institutional knowledge walk out the door?
Boomers are retiring in droves, and the median tenure for full-timers is a mere 3-4 years, which means institutional knowledge is already walking out the door. Preserving it should be a priority, regardless of your employment model. This means establishing internal processes that promote information sharing and, in the case of independent workers, developing a comprehensive talent management strategy.
When it comes to specific projects, independent talent can provide essential expertise while cost-effectively helping you scale up and down as needed. With the right processes and technology (Google Drive, Slack, meeting recordings, etc.) in place, institutional knowledge can be preserved via teamwork, transparent documentation, and ongoing communication.
Even if you’re ultimately looking for a permanent solution, interim talent can effectively bridge the gap while you find the right candidate.
5. What if something goes wrong?
What they mean: What sort of guarantees do I have?
Hiring anyone, whether full-time or temporary, always has its risks. Fortunately, it is possible to mitigate those risks by drawing from a pool of well vetted talent.
At BTG, we ensure you get the perfect independent consultant for your project by going beyond the services of a traditional talent marketplace. We don’t just provide access to top talent; we also:
- Help define project scope
- Curate, vet, and match talent to your project
- Provide comprehensive oversight, confidentiality, compliance, indemnification, and quality guarantees
By leveraging vast talent knowledge, a proprietary private project bidding platform, extensive client service, and rock-solid corporate practices, we give you the best consultants every time, at the best market prices. Want to learn more about how to put the high-end gig economy to work for your company? Get in touch.
About the AuthorMore Content by Emily Slayton