Gig Economy

Gig Economy
Getting On-board with the
Gig Economy

Andy Campbell,
HCM Strategy Director at Oracle @axcampbe

 

The gig economy is here to stay, but what does that mean for employee training?

Andy Campbell

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle.

If you had any lingering doubts as to whether the gig economy is relevant, you can put them to rest.

A recent survey by WikiJobs found that more than half of graduates today consider the gig economy to be a positive development for their careers. Add to this the fact that 37% of UK businesses already recruit most of their new hires on a temporary or project basis, according to our recent survey, and that 50% plan to take on more temporary workers by 2020, and it’s clear the gig economy is here to stay.

To train or not to train?

This shift to contract-based work raises a number of questions, particularly around how we manage and develop talent. For instance, how do you train a workforce that is increasingly made up of temporary staff? Who’s responsible for ensuring gig workers develop the skillset required for an open role?

 This shift to contract-based work raises a number of questions, particularly around how we manage and develop talent.  

Anyone who can ride a bike and use Google Maps can switch from one food delivery start-up to another without any additional training, but things get more complicated when you’re filling high-skilled roles in companies that have specific needs and their own way of doing things. Consider an ad agency that taps a freelance creative for inspiration on a major campaign – they’ll need to be briefed on the client’s challenges, brand and creative guidelines, and on any particular tools they have to work with.

Companies in the UK are evenly split on who is responsible for training and development. While 40% of HR decision-makers believe gig employees should manage and pay for their own training, an equal number say this responsibility rests with employers. Employees, for their part, are clearer in their thinking – only 11% think gig workers should bear the cost and responsibility of training.

A new direction for HR

 We need to rethink the way we develop talent if employers are to make the most of a more flexible talent pool.  

We need to rethink the way we develop talent if employers are to make the most of a more flexible talent pool. HR leaders who have already taken on a more strategic role in the boardroom will be tasked with finding new ways to match the right people, to the right jobs, at the right time.

Companies also need to make it easy for contract workers to quickly add value and collaborate with permanent team members. On-boarding employees has traditionally been a long and expensive process, but with temporary staff coming and going more often, HR teams need to find ways of adapting the-on-boarding process so get value out of their gig workforce without driving up recruitment costs, or compromising the quality of work or level of engagement across the company.

That’s no small task

More than half the HR leaders who responded to our survey raised one potential solution; make training materials publically available for contract workers so they can develop the necessary skills to fill open roles. This would help them hit the ground running and help employers cast a wider net to attract talent on short notice.

This raises the question of whether a company is giving away valuable IP by opening up training. Equally, will being more open actually encourage gig workers to apply in greater numbers?

Only time will tell, but the once certainty is that the gig economy is only now hitting its stride, and not just for the likes of Deliveroo, Uber and TaskRabbit. Businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are filling out their workforce with temporary contract hires, and HR teams will need to adapt their thinking to manage a more fluid workforce.

This will take personalized training that aligns with the specifics of each employee’s role on a project basis. Not only will this ensure teams are properly skilled, it will also help bridge the knowledge gap between temporary and permanent team members. To achieve this, companies will need a centralized learning resource that is open to all employees, and crucially works on any device they may be using.

A final point on fixing training

The way we train employees is largely broken. According to McKinsey, only a quarter of businesses believe their approach is “very effective” in improving employee performance.

 Businesses should think about making training materials available on demand for all staff.  

That doesn’t mean training isn’t important– in fact it’s never been more crucial. The problem is that it’s not currently delivered in a format that helps all employees excel at their jobs. Science has proven people have a shorter attention span than goldfish do, and yet employers still put their staff through multi-hour crash courses that test the limits of their patience and their ability to retain information.

Not only is the traditional training session outdated, it makes on-boarding contract workers for high-skilled roles much more complicated – many companies would agree it’s rare that someone meets the requirements of a job description perfectly. We all need a little hand to perfect our skills.

Businesses should think about making training materials available on demand for all staff, and making sure it is delivered at the right time to the right people in their preferred format. That way, permanent workers can learn relevant lessons on the job and competent contractors can handle any new challenges with minimal downtime.


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