English - United States
The workplace is changing. The days of workforces comprising of mostly permanent, long-serving "company men and women" are long gone, and the makeup of the employee base will continue to diversify over the years ahead.
According to McKinsey, 20-30% of the working-age population in the US and EU-15 is engaged in independent work, with independent work defined as work which:
Within the next couple of years, more than half of the workforce in the US and Europe could define themselves as being independent or a freelancer in some capacity.
When we discuss freelancers, it's tempting to imagine mustachioed developers coding away in hip coffee houses, or ambitious digital natives launching webstores. The reality isn't quite that simple.
The internet has certainly democratized the workplace and opened up whole new industries and avenues, as well as creating the ability for many traditionally office-based employees to now work virtually from anywhere at any time.
We're also seeing a huge increase in the number of "slashies" – the term given to people with multiple jobs, i.e. waiter/artist/dog walker – as people move away from single salary sources and towards more diversified types of work.
Again, there's a tendency to fall into the trap of thinking that these "slashies" are all millennials or Generation Zers who crave autonomy, flexibility and variety from their working life, are cynical of big business, and want to protect themselves from over-reliance on a single employer, having witnessed the destruction wreaked by an economic downturn.
Those people certainly do make up a large number of "slashies", but there are also:
Industries like retail, hospitality, entertainment, travel and logistics are particularly affected by this new form of worker and workforce, as these verticals require large numbers of seasonal workers at specific times of year. The majority of whom will be drawn from this pool of freelancers, independents and slashies.
Last year, US retailers hired more than 700,000 seasonal workers just for the December holidays, with delivery companies hiring at an equal level to service the huge demands of e-commerce at that time of year.
However, with unemployment at historically low levels and the internet opening up whole new revenue streams – many of which seem more attractive than working the unsociable hours demanded of retail and hospitality – the fight to attract quality seasonal workers is getting more competitive.
Some companies are throwing in the types of benefits previously reserved for full-timers. Others are creating events, promotions or rewards programs specifically for their seasonal employees. Clearly, culture is becoming increasingly important in attracting good part-time talent.
CFOs may baulk at the idea of dedicating resources to creating a better working experience for employees who are only with the company for a short time, but that perspective is itself short-sighted:
Seasonal workers take all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, motivations and ages. Our Speakap research discovered that seasonal workers above the age of 45 feel less engaged with their company than their counterparts under the age of 34. This could be because companies put more effort into engaging younger seasonal employees or that the methods they use are less used or trusted by older employees.
Temporary workers at companies with a high percentage of seasonal employees feel less valued, recognized and engaged than those at companies with fewer seasonal employees. Onboarding, conducted by permanent managers and HR employees, is the ideal opportunity to address this. Check out our tips for creating an outstanding onboarding experience.
While nobody wants to be criticised unnecessarily, providing feedback on an employee's performance shows that you are investing in them as a person. Permanent employees have annual or even quarterly reviews, so create moments in time when you can catch up with your seasonal workers and let them know how they're performing.
Many companies see seasonal employees as a necessary evil, to be tolerated in order to fill vacancies but little else. However, if embraced, this large and ever-changing workforce can bring dynamism and fresh ideas to your company. Give employees a platform, whether physical or virtual, to communicate openly with their colleagues and managers.
Even if temporary, an employee should feel completely like a part of the team while they are working in service of your brand. Make sure they have access to all the tools and communications that full-time employees have. Of course, you don't need to give them a company laptop, but providing access to your mobile-friendly enterprise social network is an easy win.
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