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The Gig Economy and the Importance of Effective Leadership

September 1, 2017

Since the seemingly overnight sensation of companies like Uber, people are talking about the “new” gig economy. Of course, we all know that the gig economy has always existed, but now, advancements in technology have allowed large organizations like Uber, TaskRabbit, Care.com, etc. to embrace freelance workers as their main source of “employees.” Now more than ever, people of all ages have the ability to go out on their own and decide when they work (and when they don’t) and how much money they want to make. 

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But, I would contend, that it is not all good news for freelancers. Going out on your own can be amazing but it also comes with challenges. Typically, there is no guarantee of work, rates are variable, healthcare probably isn’t covered, and if the economy tanks, contract workers are the first to see a rapid decline in work. We also know that moving from one job to another with no real boss or colleagues may be difficult for some. We have seen instances where freelancers say they are lonely and would prefer a more stable environment where they work with colleagues more consistently. 

There are definitely pros and cons to this type of work, both for the organization and for the employees. However, with more companies using this type of labor, they’ve become real competitors in the labor market. In addition to competing with other organizations for good candidates, organizations must now also compete with candidates who can choose to “be their own boss” or not work a 9-to-5 job at all. The war for talent is changing. 

So, how can effective leadership help win the war for talent?

To win the talent war and continue to retain top employees, leaders must first realize that right now, candidates (especially good ones) have a lot of options. The recruitment process should be seen as a way to vet candidates but should also place an emphasis on attracting talent. Most organizations have seen the value in using the recruitment process as a way to attract talent, but some still view it as an opportunity for the candidate to "show us why we should hire you.” When organizations take this approach, it can be off-putting to candidates and they just might decide that they don’t really want a boss. 

Second, leaders must realize that just hiring good people isn’t enough. They need to continue to engage and develop them while making sure that the work environment is a place where people want to be and continue to show up every day. It is a widely held belief that individuals don’t leave organizations, they leave their boss. I tend to agree with this. We need leaders who can engage their workers and continue to inspire and motivate them around a shared vision. Suffice it to say, organizations need to focus on their leader selection and retention to effectively win the war for talent at middle and lower levels of the organization. the path to effective leadership

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Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.