5 Tips For Recruiting in the Gig Economy

Recruiting continues to be a challenge for many employers—and the gig economy is making things worse.

A growing number of workers are shunning conventional employment in favor of contract work, shrinking the employment pool. Last year, more than 60 million Americans participated in the gig economy, up three percent over 2021.

And that’s not all. A gig mindset is influencing conventional jobseekers, making them super-selective about employers’ offers.

In order to hire successfully in the gig environment, it’s important to know what makes these workers tick—and to update your recruiting strategy accordingly.

Understanding the Gig Perspective 

The same shift in worker priorities that drove the Great Resignation is also powering the transition to gig work.

For starters, gig workers are adamant about seeking a better work/life balance, choosing flexible schedules over steady employment. They want to decide when and where they work—i.e., they want control.  

But there’s a cost here: financial uncertainty. Gig workers can’t count on regular paychecks—and that’s a pain point. Surveys show that temp workers worry profusely about finances, scoring twice as high as conventional workers on the Economic Anxiety Index.

Plus, they envy the benefit packages that traditional workers enjoy. Some also feel socially isolated, amplifying that anxiety.

So, if contract workers are reading your job posts, there’s a good chance that one or more of these factors are at play. But what happens next depends on you.

By offering them more of the things they want and less of the things they don’t, you may appeal to them—despite their gig mindset. And here are five ways to do just that.


1. Aim for an Awesome Work/Life Balance

Maybe you’re not ready to offer unlimited PTO—that’s fine. But do you offer ample paid vacation and sick time? Flexible work schedules? Remote and/or hybrid work options, if that works for your business? These are high on most workers’ work/life balance checklist, especially those drawn to gig work.

In addition, consider introducing employee-friendly policies like banning marathon workdays and after-hours emails and messages. These policies signal that you’re serious about work/life balance and have the creds to prove it.  

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2. Broadcast Great Benefits and Compensation

Among the things gig workers miss most about corporate life are solid, dependable earnings and all those amazing employee benefits they once took for granted. Make sure yours are competitive: research industry benchmarks and adjust if needed.

In addition to gold standards like quality health insurance and impressive retirement plans, today’s employees seek perks like generous parental leave, wellness/fitness benefits and top-flight relocation packages. Offering hard-to-duplicate benefits won’t just catch gig workers’ eyes, but boost retention, too.  


3. Create a 5-Star Referral Program 

One of the most effective ways to recruit permanent employees in a gig economy is by courting employee referrals. After all, even workers who are ambivalent about returning to conventional employment are impressed to hear friends and former colleagues waxing poetic about their employers. Plus, research indicates that applicants who are hired via referrals have higher conversion rates and make better employees.

So, make sure your referral bonuses are drool-worthy and talk up your program in-house. Take advantage of this underutilized, very timely recruiting tool.


4. Provide a Path to Career Success 

Another benefit that many gig workers lack is a route to greater success, whether growing compensation or career advancement. Be the employer that’s famous for cultivating talent and offering employees growth opportunities.

That means providing cutting-edge training programs, tuition reimbursement, etc. Implementing a policy of hiring from within first. Ensuring that managers have regular conversations with employees about their goals and aspirations. This won’t just entice dead-ended gig workers, but help prevent turnover. Who wants to leave an employer like that?


5. Craft a Standout Employee Experience    

Much of the appeal of gig work is that it allows people to focus on enjoying their lives. When employers make work a more exciting, enjoyable experience, they have something to offer. Too.

How do you do that? By creating a supportive culture that values innovation and teamwork. Celebrating milestones big and small, from a great sales quarter to employee birthdays. Hosting can’t-miss company events.

For your candidates, that means going the extra mile. Taking the time to show them your operation (and city, when applicable). Reimbursing them promptly for travel expenses. Offering relocation opportunities for those who seek new life experiences, as many young workers do. And, of course, taking excellent care of them when they do (which is where we come in).

Bottom line: when you can show people that you genuinely care, that working for you will make their lives better, that’s a compelling recruiting story…even and especially in a gig economy.


Human Resources Today