The ‘’Gig Economy’’ series sheds light on the future of work and the pros and cons of hiring freelancers and gig workers.
Our guest today is Delmar Johnson, HR Consultant and Startup/Small Business Owner of HR Brain for Hire™. In this role, Delmar partners with startups and small to mid-size business owners to develop their HR infrastructure through the development of process and systems, compliance measures and team development. Prior to founding HR Brain for Hire, Delmar was in Corporate America working with industry leaders like FedEx and Kelly Services Global Staffing.
Over 20 years, Delmar has held senior level individual contributor and specialist roles in a number of industries including transportation, healthcare, staffing and non-profit.
Delmar, most businesses are still cautious when it comes to the contingent workforce. Why do you hire gig workers and freelancers?
It’s important for us to understand that the world of work and employment has changed dramatically through each generation of workers. Today, without question, we are influenced by the ever-changing effects of technology. Anyone paying attention to the trends around gig workers will notice a surge; however, there are different categories of gig workers and freelancers, some are hardcore independent contractors while others could be the casual every now and again freelancer to earn extra money. One resource that talks about how many could be out in the workforce can be found in an Upwork survey summary.
I do have my own reasons behind why I hire gig workers and freelancers and those are:
- The flexibility of a short-term contract. The very nature of flexibility is important in the world of entrepreneurship. No two days are alike and having the ability to utilize talent, in a community of individuals with the skillset you need to make things happen, makes gig workers and freelancers even more appealing every day. We no longer live in a society that has to be restricted to the rigors of traditional staffing through normal recruitment channels. Today, there are varying avenues that lead to growing businesses meeting not only the goals of the company but also clients’ goals as well.
- Ability to tap into specifically targeted expertise. Being able to get straight to the resource you need and not waste time, is also at the top of the list for entrepreneurs positioning themselves to create more organization and more efficiency as they grow their business. The talent pool of gig workers and freelancers is almost endless. From all corners of the world, with a strong internet connection of course, who and what you need can be found.
- Cost savings. What entrepreneur or growing business is not looking to saving a little money? As a long-time human resources professional, I know all too well the budget-friendliness of a freelance worker. Think about the overhead expenses that come with hiring a full-time, regular employee like health, dental and vision benefits, bonuses, vacation and leave pay, 40lK and profit-sharing, worker’s compensation, not to even mention any ancillary costs that comes with being on the payroll. Those are the expenses that will have an entrepreneurs head spinning, so what better reasons than to be open to the “gig worker economy”. It not only keeps individuals employable by filling in the gaps, it keeps you in business.
Flexibility and cost savings are appealing but hiring independent contractors may have a downside. Are freelancers and contingent workers less motivated and loyal than full-time employees?
As an HR Consultant, who works with plenty of startups to growing businesses, I actually think the opposite. I believe that contingent workers are potentially more motivated because they have a level commitment and potentially more drive, because their financial outlook is directly tied to their skills and talent and how they market themselves to attract work. There is more ownership in how they show up and work because getting to the next client or opportunity is usually their driving force to stick with.
In comparison to full-time employees, who of course have skills and talents they are paid for, one of the biggest differences is the consistency and the expectation of getting paid. That doesn’t necessarily diminish their attitude of being motivated and loyal, but it also doesn’t guarantee it either.
Both categories of workers whether freelancers or full-time employees have pros and cons when defining or demonstrating their motivation and loyalty; however, I lean toward the individual who is “strategically hustling” to reach goals and being compensated to reach them repeatedly.
As the next project is never guaranteed, most freelancers tend to take on as many projects as possible. Do you think that freelancers having more than one client add value to the company by bringing in fresh ideas and innovation?
Yes, I do think freelancers add more value when working with more than one client. Such an arrangement
- Increases the chances of thinking more creatively;
- Being more innovative in the solutions they offer their clients;
- Pushes them to be more resourceful and resilient;
- Strengthens project management skills;
- Improves awareness of time management and setting boundaries;
- Helps to elevate their communication skills in expressing expectations and providing clarity on their deliverables.
A gig worker or freelancer who limits themselves to one client, I believe, can potentially stagnate their ability to continually improve upon their skills, talents and solutions they offer in the marketplace. Think about it, because of the very nature of freelancers, especially those who are in it for the long-haul, finding clients is a constant motion and when more than one client is secured, the greater the chances s/he has to stay on their toes to ensure the solutions they offer is what their clients need to level-up.
Securing more than one client also secures independent sources of income. Full-time jobs are no longer making promises of either professional or financial security to today’s workforce. Do you think that the gig economy is the future?
Yes, the gig economy is definitely part of the future. Not only the future, but the right now. Gig and freelance opportunities are not new at all; however, as technology has advanced over the last decade, being able to work basically when and how you want to, has increasingly become easier to do.
If we look at the millennial generation alone, who have a very different outlook of full-time jobs then generations before them, professional or financial security is not always at the top of that food chain. According to a USA Today article, the millennial population has their own perspective of gig work. “Millennials were the most interested in contractual rather than full-time work, with 74% of those in that age group saying they were curious about freelancing, as compared to 57% of those who comprise Generation X and 43% of older Baby Boomers.
This is not to say full-time jobs have or are becoming obsolete because there are obviously millions of people working in full-time jobs every day. However, it’s equally as important to be aware that there is no getting away from a workforce that desires more flexibility, more control of their own time and the choice of where, how and when they make money using their acquired skills, talents and gifts.