Harnessing the Gig Workforce for Hourly Positions

Discover the power of tapping into the gig workforce for hourly positions and leverage its potential.

Gig Economy

Gig work is no longer isolated to Uber and DoorDash drivers. It’s now synonymous with employment across nearly every single industry and profession. Those businesses that embrace it could very well find their answer to today’s hourly worker retention challenges and high candidate expectations, according to a new report by Employbridge, the 2023 Voice of the American Workforce (VOAW) survey.

The Rise of the Gig Economy

Why gig work, why now? The acceleration of this workforce arrangement has been helped along by a few key labor market dynamics.

There’s no end in sight for our current supply and demand imbalances, especially when it comes to hourly workers. Today’s job seekers are reimagining what employment looks like for them, representing one of the biggest shifts in candidate mindset, needs, and expectations that we’ve ever seen. And, the volatility of the economy has left many employers wary of committing to increased headcount in the face of such uncertainty – yet, still in a position where they need workers to meet business demand.

The composition of the workforce is a big consideration as businesses establish a new working paradigm, fit for the needs of both themselves and their current and future workers. What’s undoubtedly “in” is more flexibility on both sides of the coin.

This brings us to the gig economy. There are some lessons employers can learn from utilizing gig workers or building in some of the advantages that come from it with their full-time workforces.

Worker Advantages From Gig Arrangements

1. Flexibility

The most obvious advantage of gig work is flexibility, and it’s an important one. While pay rates still reign supreme when it comes to choosing a job, according to the VOAW survey of more than 29,000 workers, hourly employees are looking to break out of the mold of traditional schedules.

Here are just two more findings reports. Among logistics and manufacturing employees – sectors not traditionally thought of in terms of gig work shifts – roughly one-third would prefer four-day, 10-hour shifts (26.5% of manufacturing and 34.9% of logistics). And, more than half of logistics survey respondents (56%) are interested in a schedule where they choose which four- to six-hour shifts they want to work.

2. Skills Development

Gig work also supports another emerging trend – the desire for learning opportunities. Digging deeper into workers’ motivations for learning new skills, the VOAW survey found that 42.5% sought out training to prepare for promotion or new jobs in their industries.

A massive advantage of gig work is that it very quickly increases a worker’s employability by fast-tracking their ability to gain new skills and experience. It becomes a lever for financial opportunities as well. Over two-thirds (67.3%) of survey respondents sought out development opportunities in order to earn more pay. This leads us right to the third advantage.

3. Financial Opportunities

The VOAW survey found that those whose status is “employed full-time, one job” dropped 2.5%, while those “employed full-time, more than one job” rose 1.2%. Why are workers taking on more than one job?

According to the survey findings, 66.5% of logistics workers who are interested in gig work report wanting to earn extra money. More than that, nine out of 10 survey respondents employed through Employbridge’s digital app, Bluecrew, said they are looking for extra work to brace for a looming recession.

How To Utilize a Gig Workforce Effectively

Gig work arrangements are a viable, cost-effective strategy for businesses struggling to find and retain workers, especially those in hourly positions.

When does utilizing a gig workforce make sense?

  1. When the work can be done by any qualified worker: For many hourly positions, the work is universal enough that it can be done by anyone with the right qualifications, certifications, or experience. This is the most obvious, successful scenario for gig work. Shifts can be filled by any qualified worker with availability for that shift, without committing to a recurring schedule.
  2. For roles with high turnover: The hourly workforce has long been a labor segment associated with significant turnover and low levels of loyalty. Pay is traditionally low, the work can be mundane yet physically demanding and workers will often leave on short notice for higher-paying roles. Utilizing gig workers here can help ensure continuity in production levels.
  3. In high-pressure, productivity-dependent environments: In industrial settings like logistics and manufacturing, understaffed facilities pose a direct threat to business. These workers are on the factory floor, in the warehouse, and on the roads, fulfilling product and service needs. Gig work can be a proactive measure to address worker shortages before their impact is felt at the customer level.
  4. When there’s an effective way to manage shifts and schedules: Engaging a gig workforce requires an efficient way for both businesses and workers to communicate. The VOAW survey found that the majority (83%) of hourly workers across all verticals are willing to use an app to manage their work, choose their schedule or find a job.

As the world of work continues to evolve, I suspect we’ll see more businesses engage with their workers in non-traditional ways. Gig work is making a name for itself among hourly workers who want flexibility, an opportunity to earn extra money when needed, and gain a wide range of experiences that help them further their careers and earning potential.

With continued economic uncertainty ahead, companies are recognizing that flexibility goes both ways. Gig work helps them keep labor costs down, create more certainty in their production and fulfillment levels and better navigate whatever road lies ahead.

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Joanie Bily

Chief Experience Officer, Employbridge

Joanie Bily is the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of Employbridge, the largest industrial staffing company in the U.S. She is also the president of RemX, the professional staffing division at Employbridge, and the vice chair for the American Staffing Association. Joanie is a recognized authority on labor market data, workplace trends, and career advice. With over 20 years of executive experience, she has led talent to exceptional outcomes in two of the world’s largest employment firms. Joanie is the author of the book “Dive In D.E.E.P.: Strategies to Advance Your Career, Find Balance, and Live Your Best Life” and a contributing author to “Together We Rise.” She hosts the podcast “Employment Insights by the Duchess of Labor” and frequently appears on national broadcast networks and major publications.


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