Talent in the Gig Economy

Sam Smith thinks it’s time we shifted our perceptions of freelance talent and put people at the heart of gig working.

By Sam Smith, Global Vice President, Life Sciences & Healthcare 

I was thrilled to be part of this year’s Collaboration In The Gig Economy event and it’s been a vibrant and thought-provoking experience. The event was intimate and focused, with a highly engaged crowd who had a real understanding of what it means to be part of this evolving corner of the talent landscape. This mix of experienced industry professionals has driven insightful conversation and encouraged me to think about perceptions of talent within the gig economy. My view is that we all need to do more to challenge preconceived ideas and start making talent a central part of the gig equation.

A Question of Talent

During day two of Collaboration In The Gig Economy, I was very kindly asked to join the keynote panel at the beginning of the day. I was joined on stage by the knowledgeable: Michael Kearns, Toptal; Brandon Metcalf, Bullhorn; and John Nurthern, SIA. We fielded interesting questions on all aspects of the gig economy, but my key takeaway was that we must begin to see gig workers in a different light. We have become so consumed by the possible legal implications and complexities of gig working that we have isolated the people who work in this way. These people are becoming an integral part of organisations around the world. Putting energy and talent into helping businesses achieve their goals. It’s time we stopped sweeping them under the rug and started putting them at the centre of the talent journey, building systems and processes that allow them to engage with work easily and meaningfully.

The Great Culture Debate

The creeping anxiety over gig workers means that they have had little opportunity to engage in the culture of the organisations they support. We know that workers who feel a connection to the culture and goals of the companies they work with are likely to be more productive and to produce a greater return on investment. The fact is, gig workers form a psychological contract with their clients, so understanding their expectations and forming a relationship of trust is hugely beneficial. Yes, a proper compliance framework and robust procedures are important and necessary, but they shouldn’t remove or suppress this important relationship.  

There is a consistent buzz around every aspect of the gig economy and hiring managers are embracing gig workers in greater numbers than ever before. So, it’s vital we keep people at the centre of the gig story. I, for one, can’t wait to see where this talent journey takes us.

Sam Smith is Vice President of Global Solutions in EMEA and Strategic Sales Lead for KellyOCG. She works closely with clients to bridge the “talent agility gap” with innovative and sustainable workforce solutions.

Collaboration In The Gig Economy is a conference that takes a closer look at the new ways people are choosing to work and the challenges and opportunities this creates. Discussing problem-solving, technology and how to maximize value at every stage of the talent supply chain.