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Building A Competitive Advantage Through Gig & Contract Workers

The global labor market is shifting from traditional full-time work to short-term and contract gig workers. The World Bank defines a “gig” as:

“A one-off job for which a worker is paid for a particular task or for a defined period.” [1]

McKinsey & Company refers to the gig economy as:

“The workforce of people engaged in free-lance and side-hustle work.” [2]

The jobs vary by the level of complexity (ranging from driving services, to design work, and legal contracts) and where the work is completed (on-site, online, or through a mixture of online and on-site engagement). The World Bank estimates that the demand for gig work grew globally by more than 40% between 2016 and 2023 and by more than 85% in Europe. This dramatic growth in gig work, as well as other flexible working models, is changing the face of work and presents opportunities and challenges for gig workers and for the organizations that employ them.[3]

We believe organizations that rely on gig work will need to focus efforts on strategies to identify the top talent and to find ways to convert their organization into a partner of choice. This will require some employers to adapt their strategies to meet the distinct needs of these workers as the leading professionals can, and will, go where they get the most interesting and best-paid work from organizations that treat them well.

We believe that organizations should consider several practices to attract and retain gig talent, including project transparency, fair compensation, professional development opportunities, and ongoing engagement.

Understanding the Gig Economy and Its Workers

The gig economy encompasses a broad spectrum of freelance, contract, and part-time work, distinguished by its flexibility and independence. Gig workers value autonomy, transparency, the opportunity for diverse project experiences, and the freedom to choose their assignments. For employees engaged in gig work, it is vital that they focus on building and re-building a diverse skill set, developing a portfolio of clients, and properly leveraging digital platforms to support client development and brand building.

As businesses increasingly rely on this flexible workforce to navigate the evolving needs of their business, they must understand the motivations and preferences of the specific gig workers they need to engage will become more and more crucial for business leaders seeking to harness their potential effectively.

Strategies for Engaging Gig and Contract Workers

Strategy 1: Transparency of Project Availability

Clear communication regarding project availability is essential for attracting gig workers. Utilizing digital platforms and project management tools can enhance transparency, allowing workers to plan their schedules and select projects that align with their skills and interests. This openness fosters trust and loyalty, making companies more attractive to top freelance talent.

Strategy 2: Fair Compensation

In a global labor market that is increasingly transparent, fair compensation for project and contract work is a non-negotiable aspect of attracting and retaining gig workers. Businesses must ensure that they offer competitive rates that reflect the market value of the skills and experience gig workers bring. Prompt payments and transparent billing processes further reinforce a company’s reputation as a fair and reliable partner.

Strategy 3: Professional Development Opportunities

Contrary to the perception that gig work is purely transactional, many gig workers want to develop established relationships with the groups they work with. One way for employers to build these relationships are through offering programmes to support growth and learning. This could include access to training resources or sessions, workshops, or even mentorship programmes, which can differentiate a company in a crowded market. These opportunities encourage gig workers to invest their best efforts and foster a sense of belonging and loyalty.

Strategy 4: Enhanced Engagement and Communication

Regular feedback and recognition can contribute significantly to gig worker satisfaction and retention. Even though they may not be permanent employees, integrating gig workers into the company culture and treating them as part of the team can significantly impact their engagement levels. Employing digital communication tools and platforms can help create a sense of community and inclusion, essential for building long-term relationships.


As the gig economy continues to grow, the companies that succeed will be those that recognize the unique needs and contributions of gig and contract workers. By implementing strategies focused on transparency, fair compensation, professional development, and engagement, businesses can become partners of choice for the most talented workers in this flexible and dynamic segment of the workforce. Adapting to these evolving employment trends is not just a necessity for those organizations seeking to leverage more flexible working relationships but an opportunity to build a more resilient and innovative organization.