Should You Hire a Gig Worker as a Full-Time Employee?
Picture this: You have had an opening for a while and have been stuck on finding the right candidate for the job. Finally, you come across a freelancer or a gig worker whose resume fits the bill.
Or this: You have been working with a freelancer for a while. Now, you are starting to wonder whether it would be worth investing in this gig worker by offering a full-time work arrangement. Would it be more cost-efficient and effective for you?
If you can relate to the situations above, know that you are not alone. The gig economy in Malaysia heightened during the pandemic. With the rapid and massive changes in the workforce in the past years, along with tech disruptions and globalisation, employees started leaving their 9-to-5 jobs, or at least adding to their after-hours schedule and taking on one or more gig opportunities.
Now that the world is opening up, gig workers are starting to consider full-time employment once more. With this, employers face the question of whether they should hire these gig workers as full-time employees.
The Gig Economy: What Is It?
The gig economy refers to a labour market where there is a demand and supply for short-term contract roles or freelance work. The gig economy relies on its “gig workers” or freelance and independent workers who fill in part-time, project-based, or on-call roles and fulfil the needs of that role.
The gig economy has seen a boom because of the rise of on-demand services such as transportation and food delivery apps and e-commerce platforms. Because these services are marketable, they depend on independent contractors to fill in these services quickly and conveniently. In turn, because workers choose these roles or projects, they have more control over their time and cash flow.
That said, the gig economy is not just limited to one-off jobs like delivery or car services. It is made up of a complex web of industries, projects, and needs. Alongside is a range of independent workers such as contractors, consultants, sole proprietors, and even full-time-employed individuals who take on side jobs. Under the gig economy, contracts can be project-based or recurring for a particular amount of time.
But in certain instances, hiring a gig worker as a full-time employee can be more convenient and cost-efficient for an organisation.
The Gig Economy, pre- and post-pandemic
In the United States, the gig economy is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the American labour market, where freelancers are estimated to make up more than half of their workforce towards the end of the decade. But the allure of the gig economy is not confined to the West alone; in Southeast Asia, gig workers are fast-growing in the region, with the World Bank estimating a consistent 30% growth in 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped this up even further. The Great Resignation, although more muted, did not spare the SEA region: 79% of professionals across the region said they planned to resign in 2021, and 42% said they were planning to.
Malaysia had the highest number of workers (82%) who thought of quitting their job in the past year.
During the Great Resignation, many people reconsidered how they want to live their lives and how work fits into that life. Their priorities shifted as they learned to value their work-life balance.
Hence why gig workers continue to grow: Being able to choose their working arrangements at will instead of toughing out a 9-to-5 job gives them more freedom to design their schedule and increase their earning prospects.
Why are gig workers seeking full-time opportunities?
Some gig workers may choose to return or try their hand at a full-time job which can grant them stability and benefits that a person operating under a freelance contract may not be entitled to.
Although the gig economy is rising in popularity, there are still many misconceptions attached to gig workers or freelance contractors. We tackle some of them.
Common misconceptions of a gig worker
A gig worker is not loyal.
The most common concern of many HR managers is the idea that a gig worker will not be loyal to the organisation. Because the gig worker answers to their own boss, clocks out as needed, and takes care of the family on the side, some HR personnel feel that the freelancer will put his needs above the company’s.
Contrary to popular belief, gig workers are actually loyal to their longest-standing clients and partners. There is also nothing inherently wrong with how “disloyal” some believe a gig worker could be; they are simply protecting and respecting their boundaries while making sure work fits in their current lifestyle.
A gig worker is lazy.
Some believe that just because a gig worker only chooses what stuff to work on, they’re lazy. While a freelancer does have the prerogative to choose some of the items they want to work on, many times their schedule can even be overbooked because of back-to-back client meetings or tight timelines.
A gig worker lacks experience.
Some HR managers may take a look at a gig worker’s resume and (erroneously) infer that a particular freelancer lacks the necessary experience for the role due to a lack of full-time duties. On the contrary, a gig worker will usually have racked up tons of experience by working with various companies, brands, and other needs.
Should You Hire a Gig Worker for a Full-Time Job?
All that said, should you hire a gig worker for full-time employment? Here are some of the advantages.
They have a great work ethic.
Because gig workers need to meet several deadlines and achieve various client expectations, gig workers naturally have a great work ethic. This may be borne out of circumstance: for freelancers, it’s “no work, no pay.” Unlike regular employees paid continuously and consistently for the hours they clock in at work, a gig worker’s wage will sometimes depend on how fast they can churn results.
Hence, gig workers are productivity-oriented. Once they’re used to a certain level of working and producing outcomes, they could be faster than other workers of the same level on average.
They bring in diverse experiences.
While they may not usually have the usual linear career path you’d like to see in a resume, gig workers make up for it in the colour and depth of their experiences. You may have a mid-career shifter who left a high-paying traditional job to pursue a writing career or a freelancer who has tried their hand at several roles and companies. They bring with them a wealth of experience and transferable skills, making them equipped to take on a position while approaching it with a fresh perspective.
Things to Consider Before Hiring a Gig Worker Full-Time
If you’re sold on bringing a gig worker aboard to join your organisation full-time, there are certain things to keep in mind in order to nurture and sustain gig workers.
Consider hybrid work and flexible arrangements.
If your organisation has not practised this already, a hybrid or remote setup will go a long way for freelancers looking to make the shift to full-time: it provides them with the stability of a regular job while maintaining the cadence and dynamic of the freelance arrangement they’re used to. Many freelancers have joined the gig economy due to its flexibility — either they are caring for a child or a household member, or they’re running a business on the side — and this is still worth keeping up.
Provide avenues or opportunities for growth.
Freelancers are creative by nature, as seen by their willingness to venture outside the box and strike their entrepreneurial spirit. Thus, they would appreciate having more opportunities for growth such as upskilling programmes or even leeway to try something new.
Roles suited for gig workers
The best jobs for gig workers are those that encourage creativity, initiative, and innovation. These traits are likely developed during freelancing. Many gig workers who transition to full-time work have found successful careers as creatives, writers, producers, editors, project managers, and even business consultants and analysts. These jobs are also usually productivity-oriented and make use of a gig worker’s current strengths.
While hiring a gig worker can be a new experience, it could be worth it for you if you take that leap of faith. Register now at Jobstreet by SEEK and start looking for a suitable candidate on the Talent Search page. For more expert advice on hiring people of diverse backgrounds, visit our Employer Insights page.