- New research turns on its head the myth that most gig workers do what they do because they can't find steady full-time work. In a survey by SHRM and SAP SuccessFactors, nearly 1 in 5 gig or external workers prefer working on their own, and about one-third said they earn more as an external worker than as an internal employee. The survey included responses from 1,700 managers, internal employees and external workers.
- Respondents cited three top reasons for becoming gig workers, independent contractors, freelancers, temporary workers or consultants: setting their own schedule (49%); choosing the number of hours they work (40%); and working from any location (33%). External workers and company leaders agreed that their shared interests in external work were flexibility and autonomy, both of which allow organizations to adjust staffing levels based on economic changes.
- While manager and HR respondents said that healthcare and paid time off were benefits that external workers would find highly attractive, external workers said that "being recognized for contributions at work" and being thanked would make their work experience the most positive.
The survey demonstrated the value of recognition for all workers, whether employed full time or working independently. A recent study by WorldatWork and Maritz Motivation found that organizations are conflicted about whether to have formal or informal recognition programs or even offer any at all. The study showed that the number of organizations with no recognition program increased between 2016 and 2019 by 19%, but recognition is still highly valued among workers. A separate Deloitte report found that a simple "thank you" is often enough to make workers feel appreciated for their performance.
In a media statement, Autumn Krauss, SAP SuccessFactors' principal scientist of Human Capital Management Research, acknowledged the growth and importance of external workers to today's workplace and the need to make gig work a more viable employment arrangement for both businesses and workers. "The first step in doing this is understanding all stakeholders' points of view, which we've done with this research program. Our research with SHRM will help organizations increase the maturity of their approach to external workforce management through better cultural integration, total workforce practices and technology applications, resulting in a positive external worker experience and business impact."
However, in hiring gig workers, SHRM advised employers to be mindful of regulations distinguishing employees from independent contractors and to make sure they're compliant.