The Gig Life – Our Economy Is Changing, Are You Changing With It?
Things are changing all around us and it’s happening at lightening speed.
The workplace, as many of us know it, has been going through a facelift. A facelift commonly referred to as ‘the gig economy’ and despite California’s attempt to curb it via Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) it’s moving forward at the speed of light. Approximately 10% of the US workforce can be classified as a gig, and it’s growing exponentially.
What is the Gig Economy anyways?
It’s an alternative work approach in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers or consulting firms for short-term engagements.
You may be saying, “this doesn’t sound new, so what’s the deal?”
While using temporary labor may not be a new thing, what is very new is the amount of work that is now being facilitated through Gig’s on short-term engagements. (AKA freelance, independent contractors, contingent workers, temporary workers, etc.)
Gig freelancing is taking a much wider foothold in our economy. Today it’s common to find all sorts of work being packaged and facilitated through Gigs whereas before these jobs were considered only as fully employed roles. Management roles, engineering, software, events, cooking, the music industry, professional coaching and even academics are a few examples of work which is now being performed largely by the current day Gig worker. It could also mean you and I having a separate part-time job which we use to bring in extra income on the side. (AKA moonlighting)
For example, there are companies and people who do nothing but provide short term support for other companies which have a need for an interim CEO. There are just as many options for companies who want additional support in doing their product design but don’t want to hire a full time employee because it’s work that is intermittent. These are examples of where Gigs come into play.
They serve a role for a period of time on behalf of a separate organization. Once they’re done they’re off to finding their next opportunity, often times they may have multiple jobs/ projects going on at the same time.
Why are companies and people alike moving in this direction?
As our economy and technology continues to evolve we become less and less reliant on doing business face to face. For those of us who grew up in business when you were expected to be in the office for no other reason than ‘face-time’ you should be happy to know that many companies are moving away from this model. Why? We’re learning, slowly but surely, that ‘face-time’ isn’t productive. Employees can be just as productive from home, at a coffee shop or at the local water hole (not that I recommend that) rather than being shackled to their four foot cubicle for nine hours a day.
Productivity soars thanks to the usage of Gigs because it offers people the ability to do work and do so on their own accord. We often hear people who are Gig’s say they “like working this way because it’s more creative, allows for a better work/ life balance and gives them the ability to choose the work they want to do.” The benefit to the employer utilizing a Gig approach is they can reduce their overhead on costly brick and mortar facilities (estimated at $12k per employee per year) while having work completed by true experts in the field. Employers are also able to onboard new talent and off-board unneeded skills without the burden of employment taxes and paperwork.
Why it is important for me to be aware of ‘The Gig Life’?
The reason you should care about what is going on in the Gig Economy is because very soon we will all need to adjust to this new work style in order to remain competitive.
Now I’ve got your attention!
It’s time we gave some good introspective thought on how we do things at the workplace and whether or not that is the right way to do it. Perhaps your business, your department or your team could benefit from using Gigs to handle freelance work. Maybe in doing so you’ll be able to facilitate a wider volume of business which means more customers, more money and more margaritas on the beach in Acapulco. Maybe your employees are tired of seeing your face on the daily and could use a little R&R while working from home.
Either way, it’s time we all jump on the wagon because whether we like it or not the Gig Economy is here to stay and it promises to only grow as time goes on.
Orange County unemployment rate is 2.9 percent as of July, 2022, as such the talent scarcity is creating gaps between the supply and demand of skilled MedTech professionals. Given these challenges we’re all facing we recently asked the online community the following question:
Which part of your business has the hardest time finding and hiring talent?
I suppose EU MDR is to blame for this as the majority of respondents indicated RA QA personnel are the hardest to find.
There’s another distinction worth noting that’s adding fuel to the fire. The cost of living (COLA) in Orange County is 54% higher than the national average. As a result, this has a direct impact on the sheer number of people who can afford to live in OC, which decreases the size of the employment pool. Add into the mix issues the overall State is experiencing like a 250k net migration loss along with relatively new industry regulations like EU MDR and you have a perfect storm where demand is grossly outpacing supply.
Pete Nalbach, GM of SeaSpine in Irvine, CA shared some interesting insights about the present hiring, employment and talent situation:
Pete indicated and I’m paraphrasing a bit “…candidates have options. This means they only accept jobs they really want which in turn gets a higher engaged employee for the company in the long term”
What’s your solution to the talent shortage?
We’ve heard it a thousand times - the labor market is tight and only getting worse. Unemployment for professionals is close to an all-time low while demand continues to skyrocket. Frankly, this is nothing new, nor should this be news to most of us.
What is rather striking are the number of companies who seem to have little plan in place for how they’re going to continue to hire new employees amidst one of the most competitive and challenging employment times in our nations’ history. Where plans lack, so do results. Long gone are the days where we can post a job online and get a slew of great applicants, especially in the technology sector. Why? Because everyone is working, which means those who aren’t, well there might be a reason for that.
What this also tells us is in large part the people we all want to hire are gainfully employed elsewhere, to get their attention to come work for you you’ll need to have a plan in place to do so. Before we can build a hiring plan we first need to understand what we’re up against.
Local Marketplace Dynamics – Orange County, CA:
· Wages in OC are on average 17.3% higher than the national average and 21% higher than neighboring counties
If your organization is hiring now or in the near future, especially for technologists, I strongly recommend you consider the following hiring and company operational best practices as these will set up both your organization to attract and retain the best people.
Remember, the ‘art of hiring’ isn’t a guessing game or round of blindfolded pin the tail on the doneky. People work where they feel appreciated, respected, and compensated appropriately so your organization needs to be able to demonstrate that and then operate accordingly.
Hiring & Company Operations Best Practices:
I’ll admit some of the above items seem a bit over the top yet in the same breath I must also admit many of these things are becoming common place. It’s not to say you need to do them all, but to not offer any of these perks to current and or prospective employees means you may likely find yourself losing current employees to other companies who do have them, or not being able to hire at all. SHRM estimates the cost to backfill an existing employee is 6-9 months of their annualized salary. This offers a good moment of reflection – should you invest upfront (perks) or pay in the rears as you look to backfill and replace employees?
Additional Best Practices:
To attract the best of the best we need to constantly review and optimize our strategies to ensure they are both keeping up with the current marketplace while producing the results we need. Remember, continuing to do the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results isn’t a good recipe for hiring success, it’s corporate insanity.
Growth in hiring is typically a good thing. Why thank you Captain Obvious. While growth in hiring may very well be a good thing, successfully navigating the hiring process is an entirely different story.
Successful hiring can make or break the performance of a company. Unsuccessful hiring on the other hand creates all sorts of fun challenges for folks like you and me. In fact, Harvard Business Review identifies 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.
What does this mean? First, let’s look at the potential tangible repercussions.
According to Dice, one of the larger online job boards, a poor hiring decision for a candidate earning $100,000 per year could cost, on average, $250,000, and that expense comes right off the bottom line. That’s scary stuff! Basically, if the hiring decision you made ends poorly you can expect that mistake to represent 2.5 times the cost of whatever the salary is of the person you are hired.
Rather than fearing the hiring process, or having it work against us, we should approach it with a strategic and open minded process to ensure success.
Want to improve your hiring practices? Employee (pun intended) these 15 tips:
1. Why Would Someone Pick You/ Your Company?
No longer is it realistic for employers to have the notion that just because you are in the drivers’ seat administering the interview means you have all the power. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as the current market is more in favor of the job seeker as they have plenty of options to choose from, you being one of them. If you want the best of the best you have to be able to speak to WHY people should consider you and your company. Your story must resonate with your interviewees.
2. Character Over Competency
The best leaders use this philosophy – hire people who will bleed for your cause and will make the right decisions even in the darkest of hours. Competency in most jobs can be taught, character is what the person has developed well before you came around so don’t think you can change it easily, if at all
3. Behavioral Based Interviewing
A great tactic while interviewing is to ask people what they would do in certain situations. This causes people to have to think and adjust in the moment. You aren’t trying to catch someone doing something wrong here, more or less understand their thought process and how they handle certain tasks or situations
4. Know What You Want Before You Interview
All too often I hear people say, “we need to interview some people first to better understand who we are looking for”. You should never need to interview someone in order to help you understand who or what you are looking for. If you use this practice most often what it means is you don’t know what you’re doing from a leadership perspective. Tough love I know but it’s highly important you know what you want and need before you go looking for it during interviews. Wasting people’s time so you can figure out your direction with hiring isn’t advisable and it’s unprofessional.
5. Consult Others
Before you go about the interview process speak with other managers about their experiences and your plans for your hiring process. The best advice typically comes from those who have been there and done it before that way you can learn from their successes and mistakes
6. Make Sure You Know And Understand Your Vision
Somewhat similar to number #1 however this focuses on you and your specific team. Put yourself in the shoes of the person interviewing and think “Why would I want to work for her/ him?” “Does this vision excite me?” “What is my role in the future of this company?”
7. Best Foot Forward
A helpful reminder if nothing else, remember when people are interviewing you are witnessing their ideal self, seeing them at their best. Asking questions which will give you better insight into who they are day-to-day, not just during your interview, are always good ways to get a better glimpse into who they are in a very day setting.
8. Tell Them Your Leadership Philosophy
This is especially important if you are hiring the person to join your team. This is also very different than #6 which talks about the vision for your team or company. Here you are sharing with your interviewee how you lead and what you believe in. A great precursor question to this is asking the candidate what type of leadership they like and want in their next career
9. Interview Tests
It’s a great practice to test candidates on their abilities on the spot, so long as the test is directly relatable to their core job function. If you are interviewing a Mechanical Engineer, for example, it is highly suggested you test them on the exact work they would be doing for you (ie Solidworks modeling)
10. The Reference Trick
I personally think references are a waste of time. Why? Because the people on the other end of the phone are doing nothing but singing the praises of the person you are interviewing. In over a decade I can name on one hand the number of reference checks I’ve performed which brought about a poor review. Here’s how to get around it – when you are on the phone with the reference which was provided by your interviewee ask who else the interviewee worked with and then try to phone that person. This person won’t be prepared for your call and may provide you with more realistic insight into the persons’ work ethic and behaviors.
11. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Interviewing isn’t easy. In fact it can be downright terrifying for some people. Try looking beyond the interview. Just because someone’s interview isn’t a glowing success, or they may seem overly nervous, doesn’t mean they aren’t a good catch. Just because someone interviews well doesn’t mean they will perform well in the job.
12. Job Description = Performance Expectations
It’s time we ditch the HR job descriptions and actually write and talk about what the newly hired employee will be expected to do from a performance perspective. If you’re hiring for sales, interview your candidates based on the quotas and metrics you’ll have in place. Ask how they will achieve those goals, what their strategies will be, etc.
13. Know Your Non-Negotiables
What are you not willing to tolerate? When I’m in a position of hiring my two non-negotiables are attitude and integrity because both of these are things we have 100% control over. Knowing that I then ask questions around those two to see how they view my perspective on my non-negotiables. Asking interviewees their non-negotiables will also give you an idea of where their priorities land
14. Challenge Your Own Mindset
One of the most common mistakes leaders make when hiring is they select candidates that remind them of themselves or select candidates that are beneath them skill wise. Great leaders surround themselves with people who are not only competent but will challenge the leader to be better.
15. Don’t Hire If It Isn’t What You Want
I hired an employee that was most of what I was looking for but through the interview I uncovered some things that were less than great. Up to this point I had interviewed so many people that I just decided to move forward with this particular candidate and did the whole ‘cross your fingers’ bit in hopes they would work out. From that experience I can tell you it is always better to not hire when in doubt than hire because you need to fill a spot.
There’s one thing which has a direct impact to the success a business experiences throughout the year – hiring. Do it right, you’ll probably have a good year. Do it wrong, well, let’s just say you’ll quickly find yourself heading down crap creek without a paddle.
Hiring is an art and a science combine. It’s a tricky process, so much so Harvard Business Review cited 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Failing to hire the right people can also have a big impact to the company’s financials. According to Dice, an online job board, poor hiring decisions for employees earning $100,000 annually lead to an average cost of $250,000. Basically, if the hiring decision you make ends poorly you can expect that mistake to represent 2.5 times the cost of whatever the salary of the person is you are hired. If they’re at an executive level the cost is even higher.
Long and short, your ability to make the right hiring decisions in 2019 will be crucial to the success of your business, your fellow employees, your newly hired employees and your own career.
Approaching the hiring process with a strategic game plan allows us to increase our chances of successful hiring exponentially while overcoming fears and apprehension along the way. Previously I had shared in another article 15 hiring tips to find the best employees. 15 is a lot, who’s got time for that many tips! Therefore, I’ve summarized it to the top 7 most tips you need to take into consideration when hiring. For the full article and descriptions of each of these tips click here.
Looking to hire successfully in 2019 Follow these seven tips:
1. Know & Share Your WHY
2. Know What You Want Before You Interview
3. Know Your Non-Negotiables
4. Hire Character Over Competency
5. Share Your Leadership Philosophy
6. Ensure Your Interview Process & Collaborators Are Tight & Timely
7. Challenge Your Own Mindset
It’s amazing to learn than an estimated 70% of companies don’t have a specific process they follow to ensure their hiring process is streamlined and effective. As a result HBR identified that 80% of turnover is due to poor hiring decisions which can be directly correlated to a lack of planning and consistent processes along the way.
While this sounds scary, we do know what it takes to be successful in the hiring process. We know this because we can look at where company’s struggle in the hiring process and then use that information to improve our own processes.
The eight reasons company’s struggle to hire great people are, in no particular order:
Key Takeaway: Be prepared to lead your hiring process with your company’s WHY and get a plan in place!
Action Item: Craft a specific plan for your hiring process including what you need in a new employee. Get a couple key people involved, ensure they are trained on how to interview, while making sure everyone is on the same page with what the company needs in the new person before you start interviewing. Everyone should be interviewing using the same criteria and scoring. Decision making should be left up to one or two people, not a kumbaya group agreement.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.