By: Sara Jensen, VP of Business Development 

Published By: Business 2 Community 

Think the gig economy is all Uber drivers and freelance writers? Think again.

That may have been true in its early days, but this burgeoning workforce now powers all sorts of sectors. Contingent workers — including contract employees, freelancers, and independent consultants — account for more than 40 percent of today’s U.S. labor force.

Three places you might not expect gig economy growth? The biotechnology, information technology, and defense industries. Temporary hiring, notes Greg Reh, Deloitte’s U.S. and global life sciences leader, is one of the hottest trends in biotech. Tech fields require top talent for specialized work on specific projects, and contingent hiring allows companies to recruit quickly from a worldwide pool and receive around-the-clock results.

In fact, more than 80 percent of executives have begun to employ an on-demand workforce. But many jumped in before understanding how to protect their companies from the gig economy’s risks. Contingent hiring brings a host of legal hurdles, and worker misclassification mistakes can cost companies millions.

Getting Ahead in the Gig Economy

Still, contingent workers can be a boon to your bottom line. Biotech, defense, and IT companies can become gig economy leaders by taking the following four steps:

1. Get creative with recruitment and onboarding.

If recruiting top talent is your biggest challenge, you’re in good company. Globally, nearly half of employers are in the midst of a talent shortage, and tech fields are facing particular shortfalls.

Unfortunately, constant hiring cycles are straining these companies’ HR departments. To avoid burning out your team, work your staff referrals and company alumni. Try a contingent worker hiring platform, such as Hired or Toptal, or outsource recruitment to a trusted staffing provider.

Then, once you’ve found a candidate, onboarding him or her can be equally challenging. An employer of record can free up HR’s time from constantly training contingent hires, and it unburdens payroll from processing fluctuating compensation for these workers. What’s more, it can protect your company from contract worker lawsuits and unemployment claims.

2. Designate a single point of contact.

Particularly when a company is just getting started with contingent workers, it’s easy to underestimate the number of moving parts involved. This isn’t just about recruiting and payroll, either. Who’ll assign work to contingent workers? Who’ll coordinate mixed teams? Who’ll ensure compliance with labor laws?

To minimize miscommunication, select one person to handle all requests for non-employee help. This contact’s job should be to educate requestors on the process and to ensure contingent workers are handed appropriate assignments.

Especially at defense companies, which already have their hands full with administrative paperwork, a single point of contact may not be feasible. If that’s your situation, look to an employer of record. Our company serves as the EOR for a global defense contractor. By outsourcing administration for just 10 contingent workers, the contractor saves roughly 1,000 hours of work per year, or about $35,000.

Because EORs work with contingent workers every day, they know how to set standards that safeguard companies from expensive slip-ups. Say a manager hires an independent contractor for work that should be done by a W2 employee. Or perhaps he forgot to have a contingent worker complete essential paperwork, such as an intellectual property agreement. The result could be audits, fines, or intellectual property theft.

3. Work with vendors to standardize compensation.

Another common issue (particularly among companies without a single point of contact for contingent workers) is differing pay and benefits for gig workers in similar roles. For instance, one program manager might hire a temporary systems administrator for $35 per hour in Maryland, but a program manager in California could be paying a different contingent systems administrator $55 per hour.

To ensure contract employees receive appropriate and consistent compensation — accounting for factors such as experience and cost of living — create an approved vendor list. Once contingent worker rates are set during the vetting process, managers can engage these vendors without fear of underpaying or overpaying for contingent work.

4. Train managers on modern working arrangements.

Remote work is a rapidly growing trend in biotech, and contract employees are especially likely to work off-site. If you’re a manager at your company’s Dallas office, how do you engage workers across the world, from Shanghai to Seattle? How do you guide this group if you’ve only managed workers face to face?

Don’t throw managers into the deep end. Provide sessions on how they can communicate with and set expectations for remote workers. Train them to integrate distant contingent workers into the company culture.

Finally, provide managers with the technologies they need as well. They’ll need videoconferencing, instant messaging, and file-sharing software to communicate cleanly with contingent workers. At my company, we recommend Zoom, which offers all these capabilities and more.

Biotech, IT, and defense companies are accustomed to being on the cutting edge of technology, but they also need to stay sharp on HR trends. You might even say their success is contingent upon it.


Check out this published article on Business 2 Community 


Share this article:

IES celebrates 50 years of innovative workforce solutions!