Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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The Rise Of Gig Workers And How To Effectively Lead Them

The world dynamics have been changing since the start of time. This also includes massive changes in the structure and working patterns of the corporate world. You may have seen the various changes as of recent times where the younger generation is more inclined to work temporarily. There’s been a shift of careers as people nowadays aspire to work according to their own preferences. The use of technology has allowed them to explore and avail more options when it comes to deciding what career they want to follow. 

What Is The Gig Economy?

With such advancements, the concept of the gig economy has been on the rise. The gig economy refers to individuals working at an organization for a fixed amount of time and a fixed payment. Now it may seem like any other kind of job but it’s not the same at all. Gig workers tend to be hired for certain projects only, making them temporary workers. These projects may be for a shorter or longer time, there’s no restriction on the time. However, the contracts driven for gig workers state clearly that they are hired for only till the completion of the project. 

You may think that this is not an adequate input for organizations and that regular productive work is more important for them. So, why would any business opt for a temporary fix as opposed to something stable and long-term? Let’s look at the developments that have made businesses choose gig workers rather than permanent employees. 

In recent times, there has been a heavy flow of digitization that has led to a sharp decrease in available jobs. Digitization mainly refers to the change from manual work to system derived operations. This isn’t true for every business sector but has been found largely practised in most of them. There is less of a need for humans as automation has taken over, thus leading to a need for fewer workers for specific timings. Uber is one of the prime examples of the gig economy as they’re highly dependent on gig workers.

Benefits Of The Gig Economy To Organizations 

Organizations hire freelancers for particular projects or assignments as a way of maximizing efficiency. They, in turn, save their resources and get the job done as well. They can hire high-priced professionals for their specific projects as it’s difficult to hire such individuals for a permanent job because of their cost. 

The idea of freelancing has proved to be beneficial as it gives the organization a plethora of applicants that they can choose from. With a diverse set of job applicants, you can now choose the best out of them all without having to worry about providing them with office space or other benefits. This helps organizations in cutting down costs and increasing their turnover rates. 

Where Does The Motivation Lie For Gig Workers?

We’ve talked about how organizations benefit from hiring gig workers, now it’s time to focus on the workers themselves. We once again touch the concept of digitization and how it has affected the world’s economy. It has also impacted the way people seek work. The world functions at a fast pace and the young generation are looking for easy solutions to their financial needs. They are no longer looking for 9 to 5 desk jobs to keep them satisfied. 

When talking to Mia, a writer who has recently become a part of the gig economy, we found out how happy gig workers are with what they do. 

Sam: You’ve recently started freelancing as a writer. How has that been treating you?

Mia: After working in the corporate sector for a 9 to 5 job, I’d say this has been a completely different experience. I’m doing what I’ve always loved to do- writing! 

Sam: That’s great! Do you work for the same employee or do you have different assignments going on?

Mia: I take on projects that appeal to me. I don’t necessarily work under one person; I take tasks from different individuals who need my help. This helps me in the sense that I don’t have redundant work that gets me bored. 

Sam: Is that the key to your motivation?

Mia: I’d like to think so. I’m able to change my niche and opt for work that I desire. Nothing is holding me back from doing anything and I take on enough work that I’m able to complete within the deadline. Working as a freelancer in the gig economy has changed my perspective of employment for the better. My timings are flexible and I’m able to maintain a proper work-life balance as opposed to previously. 

The takeaway from this interview is that Mia, being a gig worker is happy with the work she’s doing. Given that there are no hard-working hours and she gets to do the work she loves. This is true in general for the gig economy and its workers. They aren’t forced to do work that they dread and don’t seek work because of societal pressure. Doing what they love to do keeps them motivated and that’s not all. Having an option to switch from one project to another within a short span keeps people motivated as it gives them something to look forward to. 

In general, in organizational settings, individuals tend to get bored with the work they’re given. At times, employees lose their motivation and satisfaction levels due to the structure of the organization or the redundancy in their work. With extreme work pressure, it’s hard to maintain a work-life balance which isn’t true for gig workers. While talking to Mia, she said she has ample time to socialize and do her work, improving her work-life balance. 

Inclusivity and Diversity In Organizations

Gig workers aren’t restricted to working only from remote locations or freelancing. Along with those aspects, gig workers tend to also be on-site for certain periods when it comes to working in an organization. This may not be a permanent placement, however, the organization is encouraged to make the workers feel welcomed. 

When it comes to hiring gig workers, you should be aware that they may come from different parts of the world. You’re given an option that you can choose whoever suits best for your work requirements. You should be more accepting of people that come from different countries to improve your organization’s worth. Keep in mind that your organization will thrive with new and diverse ideas so you need to incorporate a better work culture.  

Employees currently working at your organization need to be trained to be able to work with global workers and be more accepting of them. The idea behind this is not only increasing your skill-set but also becoming inclusive of different cultures. 

Leaders of the organization make a huge difference in how they new, diverse employees are treated. They should opt for creating a positive and friendly working environment or global workers and make them feel welcomed. Diversity becomes a great selling point for any organization. The more diverse employees you have, the better the ideas and performance levels you have amongst workers. In order to create a positive atmosphere for such global workers, you need to make sure that communication is done effectively. 

In the case where communication if forgone, issues arise as people are unable to convey message appropriately. To improve the quality of work and ensuring a harmonious work experience, considering time zone differences should not be your only goal. Thoughtful and proper training should be conducted to overcome any cultural differences. 

When it comes to hiring global workers, they inevitably bring in different cultures with them. To overcome any possible chances of ethnocentrism or stereotypes, you need your employees to understand and learn about different cultures.

Once you’ve establishes a proper training system for your current employees, it’ll be easier to hire global workers. The aim is to diversify in a way that everyone in the organization feels motivated to work and a positive work environment is formed. There are more ways to expand your organization’s corporate culture than just implementing training programs.

The Corporate Culture 

An organization’s corporate culture mostly relies on the leadership style, the people working there and the sense of purpose they feel. It is the values, attitudes, practices and the mission of the organization. No two organizations can ever have the same corporate culture, they’re always different in many  aspects. 

The culture of an organization is subjective to the occurrence of certain elements and is variable. One business might have a very relaxed and friendly work culture whereas another business might be exercising a cut-throat competitive culture. There are ways you can improve and expand your corporate culture for a better experience for yourself and your workers. 

Work culture plays an important role in the job satisfaction level of the employees. Be it permanent or gig workers, they need a positive environment to work in. Ensure that you’re holding friendly and productive training sessions to create a better work culture where your employees can thrive. Not restrictive to only permanent workers, gig workers also need to feel the positive vibe that the corporate culture has to offer. The better your corporate culture, the better performance and motivation levels you’ll see in your employees. 

Discrimination plays an important part in reducing employee’s satisfaction levels so make sure this trait isn’t present in your leadership style. Be inclusive, diversify your workforce and improve productivity by hiring gig workers. This is linked to motivation and how leaders play an important role in motivating their gig workers.

Effective Team Leadership

The idea of leadership is fairly simple. If you’re a team leader, you must motivate, manage and guide your team members. This may be easy to say but only an effective leader can properly lead their team. You need to have the perfect set of skills to be able to work with different people and their different ideas. 

For instance, your team may have members of different working backgrounds – permanent and gig workers. How do you motivate them and keep them focused on the tasks at hand? Delegating tasks without clear instructions will not only cause problems but will also cause a lot of confusion for your members. 

Team Leadership And Gig Workers
Team leaders need to put in a lot of effort to keep their contract workers motivated as they feel left out of the circle anyway. That’s mostly because leaders don’t always trust the gig workers working for them. They’re not treated the same way as employees already working there as their vision is not aligned with them. It’s imperative to make them feel like a part of the team and leaders need to ensure they’re motivated enough to perform their best. 

How can leaders motivate gig workers? The most important way your gig workers feel motivated is through effective communication. Leaders need to ensure that they are consistently clarifying their expectations and taking feedback from their gig workers. With the regular communication, gig workers do not feel insecure or under appreciated for their work. 

Once expectations are clarified the gig workers will be able to deliver their work with efficiency. This enhances the trust levels that leaders have in their gig workers. 

Recognize the achievements of your gig workers so that they are motivated to work better for you. They’re like any other employees in your organization so make sure that you don’t discriminate against them. Treat them with respect and guide them when it’s necessary. There’s no need to be hostile just because they’re only working temporarily.

Team Management 
Are you in a spot where you’ve never been the leader of any group of people? It’s difficult to get people to understand and listen to you if you don’t possess adequate skills to be a leader. In order to convey your messages properly and make sure that you’re being heard, then you need to start with a direction. Make sure that you have set goals that you need your team member to do with an appropriate deadline. The next step is to delegate each task to people in your team, don’t overburden one person with too much work as that can hinder their performance level. 

You need to learn how to delegate tasks effectively and know the capabilities of each team member. You can only be an effective leader if you have great control over your communication skills. It’s essential to communicate regularly and convey your messages in a way that is both convincing and clear. If you’re unsure about the tasks you want your team members to do, they won’t take you seriously. You need to make sure that you are confident and firm with what you’re trying to communicate. 

You don’t have to always have a stern attitude with your team member. Yes, you’re the leader but that doesn’t mean that the team members have to be scared of you. Create a balance between when it’s appropriate to talk sternly and when to be friendly. If you’re going to have an easy attitude, then it’s highly likely that your team members don’t always take you seriously. 

What Young Workers Seek From Their Leaders

It’s considered extremely common that young workers are treated differently from the rest. If they’re taken non-seriously that harms their performance. They’re full of energy and are neglected when it comes to being given important tasks or projects. In order to avoid this circumstance, let’s look at what they really want from their managers, peers and leaders. 

Initially, they’re looking for someone who can mentor them on how to go about the corporate world. They need people to help them transition from college to work life. Both of these lives are extremely different and it’s important to have someone who can help pave the way for you at the start. Once you’ve helped them get a start of their work-life, you need to make sure that they’re under the right management. 

Young workers learn better from their peers as they have gone through the same experience. If an employee has a leader assigned to them who is also their peer, then it becomes a better learning experience for them. They expect their leader to help and guide them with how the corporate culture in the organization works and how to get things done. 

The rise of gig workers has established that there is an evident demand for them. It’s important to invest more in them and make them a part of your team in order to maximize efficiency. The gig economy mainly consists of the young generation that is up to date with the change in technology. By hiring them, you’re ensuring that the skill gap is diminished.

The older generation is less inclined to understand new tools and gadgets, whereas young workers are exceptionally skilled in them. For this very reason, it’s important to understand the needs of young workers and make them feel just as important as any other worker. This will, in time, prove to be beneficial for you as the world is moving at a fast pace. The number of gig workers employed at different organizations are high and will be a common thing in the near future. Investing in them now will help you prepare for the future.


  1. Jody Urquhart

    Great article Mary! I loved it
    First what struck me was how beneficial the gig economy is for corporate and contractor

    It is a very different way to lead though
    Some great tips

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank you, Jody, for your comment! Yes, I believe it’s important for leaders to understand what they value.


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