Don’t assume your brand is ‘good enough’ to win over hearts and minds. If you want to attract the best talent in hyper-competitive global talent markets, then you’ll need to think long and hard about how to equip your brand story with everything it needs to work. Read this article to discover our top tips on how to build your Corporate “Brand” as a weapon to attract the talent you need in the “Gig Economy”.

“In a world of ubiquitous information and advanced analytic tools, logic alone won’t do. What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman or man tick, to forge relationships, and to care for others”

Daniel H. Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future

Coronavirus will change the world of work forever.

As just one example, we’re going to see a lot of companies now shifting to having a majority of their employees working from their homes. But more than that, it’s also going to change how industries work, attitudes towards employment, and the influence of organizations able to respond the fastest to disruptive change.

With the world economies’ already in a recession[i], it is going to have an impact on the job market, with business organizations not being sure of what the future will hold for them, at least temporarily. This means a “hiring freeze” for some organizations and reduction in hiring for others, at least till the downward spiraling economies bottom out and we have a clearer perspective on the global economic future. 

Organizations will increase their use of contingent workers

As the saying goes: “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Many contract workers can expect to be busy over the coming months. The Contingent Workforce industry anticipates a spike in the hiring of “Gig Workers” as firms use contingent talent to meet requirements while waiting for the mist to clear.

What is a Gig Worker? Enter Wikipedia: “Gig workers are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers, and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies, for example, Uber or TaskRabbit, to provide services to the company’s clients.”[ii]I think this is a good comprehensive definition and will be applicable to “Gig” or “Contingent Workers (CWs)”, terms that I use interchangeably in this article.

With the increase in demand for CWs, there will be added competition and organizations will have to get their value proposition for the Gig Workers right. But for that “Value Proposition” to make an impact, Business Organizations globally will need to understand the world view of a CW. I am of the belief that unless business organizations around the world get this right, they are going to have a very hard time surviving, with more and more knowledge and blue-collar workers preferring contingent assignments.[iii]In order to connect with them, the messaging should be in a language the CWs understand, and the message should be what they want to hear, it’s only then organizations win and keep the attention of contingent workers. 

“The status quo doesn’t shift because you’re right. It shifts because the culture changes and the engine of culture is status.”

Seth Godin, This is Marketing: You can’t be seen until you learn to see

The influence of brand on ‘talent attraction’

Today, the reputation or the “Brand” of a firm is not what it advertises, a firm’s brand is what people say to each other about the organization in person, on social media, via WhatsApp and so on. For a firm to attract the right CWs, like attracting full-time employees, an organization should be able to help people become what they dreamed of becoming. This is so important especially in the cases of the CWs, as they usually cannot avail of the benefits and perks that are made available to a firm’s full-time employees. 

Gig Workers want to feel as a part of the team, in a survey by Ernst and Young, 40% of the CWs responded that they feel like outsiders as compared to the full-time workforce[iv]. In the same survey, CWs have mentioned that they like the flexibility gig work provides, along with the ability to work from home (which is a necessity now because of Covid-19), greater variety of work and the flexibility of taking time off when required.

“…, one of the central principles of human-centered design is that you empathize with the end user…empathy is a gateway to better and sometimes surprising insights that can help distinguish your idea or approach.”

Tom & David Kelley, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

Tune your brand story to attract a contingent workforce

Everyone has an “internal narrative” and acts in accordance with that. Your value proposition should resonate with their internal narrative, only when will your organization can attract the best and the brightest of the gig economy workforce. Globally, people take up contingent work for varied reasons and one business organization cannot possibly meet all of the requirements.

“You can do homework from now until doomsday, but you will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising

Respect the role of Suppliers in the Talent Supply-Chain

Keep in mind that besides the social media channels that your organization will have to employ, there is also a middleman to deal with in many cases: the Supplier or the Vendor. 

Many CWs are direct employees of the suppliers or are payrolled by them. In most of the cases, CWs are first informed about the role by the supplier, and the supplier is one who forwards the CWs profile to the client or the Managed Services Provider (MSP), managing the CW Program. The client brand then is in the hands of the social media broadcasters or managers, the MSP and the supplier( I have mentioned this in another article available on the Sourcing Industry Group website: “The Candidate Experience Kaleidoscope: How an MSP can help Improve Talent Sourcing and Engagement”.) The model below encapsulates the message that the brand should be able to convey to prospective contingent employees, via various different social media platforms.

The Workspend 7 Step Model for Developing an Organization’s Contingent Worker Value Proposition

Illustration of the Workspend 7 Step Model for Developing an Organization’s Contingent Worker Value Proposition

1. A Sense of Belonging

All of us need to feel wanted and part of a group. It is no different for CWs, they also need to be treated with respect and be part of a team, feel like a valued contributing members.

2. Personal Mastery

A number of CWs choose to work as contractors because they are looking for challenging projects across different clients and industries. The projects they are working on should make them feel that they are contributing to the firm’s success and allow for personal mastery: getting better in their area of focus.

3. Working from Home

Now, more than ever, CWs have to be allowed to work from home. It is not only because of the current conditions, but it will also show the CW that there is trust in the relationship. This will also serve as a great motivating factor.

4. Competitive Bill Rate

A decent Bill Rate or Pay Rate (what the Supplier pays the CW), serves as a “Hygiene Factor”, it is a minimum requirement for any firm to pay at par with the market rates. In most countries, keeping the risk of “Co-employment” in mind, firms cannot invite CWs to company firms or give them similar benefits to full-time employees, so it all boils down to what the CW is taking home at the end of the day.

5. Up-skill

CWs know that unless they are made an offer for a full-time role, they will be moving on to another role at a different firm. For a lot of the CWs is means that they need to upgrade their skills and learn new technologies, methodologies and also further improve their business communication. If the CW is able to achieve that actively in their current role, it serves a huge shot in the arm. Firms should focus on this area, as not many organizations are actively doing this today.

6. Future Opportunities

As an assignment comes to a close, CWs and Suppliers alike are usually on the lookout for new projects. It is of great benefit to the CW if they get access to new roles that might be coming up with the current firm. It gives them a level of comfort to continue in an organization where they have been working, plus the client also has seen their work and will be in more comfortable in offering a new role.

7. Work with Other Smart People

This is quite a neglected area in my opinion at many organizations. We tend to learn more from our peers than teachers, bosses, etc. It is human nature. CWs also appreciate this fact and realize the benefits of being teemed with other stars in the client firm. They feel appreciated and this also serves as another great motivating factor.

Summary

Your Organizations Value Proposition for the Gig Worker should focus on the key areas that we’ve mentioned here and use the right medium to reach out to prospective Contingent Workers. The downtime right now is a great opportunity for firms to rethink their message and methodology, as there will be a scramble for contingent talent as soon as things settle down globally. More than ever now, the world belongs to those organizations which learn the fastest, but at the same time, the innate features of human nature remain the same. 

David Ogilvy encapsulated this very well in Ogilvy on Advertising where he says:

“Human nature hasn’t changed for a billion years. It won’t even vary in the next billion years. Only the superficial things have changed. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man–what compulsions drive him, what instincts dominate his every action, even though his language too often camouflages what really motivates him. For if you know these things about a man, you can touch him at the core of his being. One thing is unchangingly sure. The creative man with an insight into human nature, with the artistry to touch and move people, will succeed. Without them, he will fail.”


[i]https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/imf-chief-georgieva-says-the-world-is-in-a-recession-containment-will-dictate-strength-of-recovery.html

[ii]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gig_worker

[iii]https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/insights/focus/technology-and-the-future-of-work/redefining-work-workforces-workplaces.html

[iv]https://www.ey.com/en_gl/tax/how-the-gig-economy-is-changing-the-workforce

About the Author

Sameer Srivastava has over twelve years of experience in designing, implementing and managing MSP programs in Europe, Asia, and the US. His current responsibilities include oversight of Workspend’s Strategic Center of Excellence based in New Delhi, India, and business operations in APAC and EMEA. Prior to joining Workspend, Sameer was leading Kelly OCG’s Implementation services in EMEA and later went to head their MSP and RPO Operations in India. Post Kelly OCG, Sameer was at Allegis Global Solutions where he managed Implementation and Operational teams in India. Sameer also has experience working as an IT and Change Management Consultant in the US and the UK. Sameer holds a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (USA) and an MBA from Cranfield University (UK). He can be contacted at ssrivastava@workspend.com or follow him on LinkedIn.