Performance Management in the Gig Economy

Performance Management in the Gig Economy

Technology


Unlike the remote employee who operates in the gig economy, many employees working in traditional settings, and annual performance reviews are a normal part of their work-life as coffee breaks and paid time off. However, these annual performance reviews have proven to be highly ineffective and painful for both managers and employees. 

Performance management in the gig economy is worlds different than performance reviews. It includes making your employees feel included, giving recognition, and encouraging open discussions, among other things. 

As a result, many companies are slowly replacing them with other forms of performance assessment, such as regular employee feedback. According to The Washington Post, roughly 10% of Fortune 500 companies have abandoned annual performance reviews.

But there’s one group of employees who don’t benefit from either annual performance reviews and regular feedback. They’re the gig workers or the independent contractors who work on side gigs. 

If once the term “gig” was associated with jazz musicians, today, that term is used to describe external professionals across all industries, such as software engineering, graphic design, SEO specialists, and more. 

Estimations tell that roughly 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have quit their 9-to-5 lives to join the gig economy

The tech giant Microsoft, for example, has two-thirds as many contractors as employees. Uber, the ride-hailing company, has 160,000 contractors but only 2,000 employees. 

As gig workers are becoming the new normal, companies that employ this kind of talent often report having issues with improving engagement and productivity. 

If you’re in the same situation and are looking for a solution, the answer is that what your gig employees need is on-point performance management.  

Here’s how you can implement it in your company: 

Make Gig Workers Feel Included

There’s something called “social pain” and neuroscientists think it’s crucial for people’s happiness to take care of their social pain. Social pain can be caused due to rejection or feeling excluded from social activities. 

Meaning, if your external employees feel like they’re not part of your company, their engagement and productivity might suffer.

For that reason, it’s crucial that you make your gig workers feel included and as a relevant part of your workforce. 

Share with them all news and relevant information about the business. Whenever you have a big meeting, invite them to take part virtually. Apart from being present, make sure you give them a voice in meetings. 

Treating them like you do everyone else will be a form of appreciation.

Encourage Open Discussion

Open discussion is a powerful method for performance management, ensuring employees are expressing their ideas, views, and concerns.

To avoid dealing with issues only after they become serious, encourage your gig workers to communicate their views and concerns without fear of being punished or ignored. 

If employees see that the company is open to hearing those concerns, they will feel comfortable speaking out loud. 

Schedule regular one-on-one meetings, as well as team meetings, where everyone will get the chance to express themselves. Frequent check-ins also leave room for giving recognition and acknowledgment of what each employee is working on and how they’re contributing to the team. 

Maintain an environment with several channels of communication. Touching base with more than one platform will allow your external employees to communicate with you in the best way for them, whether via Slack, email, or Zoom. 

Maintain Effective Two-Way Feedback

Managers must remember that feedback is a two-way street. 

Instead of only managers giving feedback to employees, there should be room for employees to provide feedback to their managers.

Here are a few suggestions for avoiding one-way feedback scenarios:

  • Ask the gig workers what they did right this week. Let them give more details.
  • You, as the manager, give your own feedback about what you think the employee did right. Try to provide examples.
  • Discuss what the employee can do differently next time.
  • You, as the manager, talk about what you can do differently next time. 
  • Ask the employee what he thinks you can do differently next time. 

This type of two-way feedback can help the employee build confidence and be challenged to try new and different ways of doing things.

For the manager, it helps them become more active listeners, be more receptive to constructive criticism, and be willing to adjust their supervisory style. 

Have the Right Managers Supervising the Gig Workers

Every company that employs an external talent must ensure that it has the right manager/supervisor to monitor the gig workers and their work. 

But what makes an effective supervisor?

In a nutshell, the effective supervisor is someone:

  • Employees are comfortable taking to without fear or shame;
  • The team trusts. Supervisors must stay true to their words and maintain a high level of transparency. Otherwise, the team might become lose respect and work without giving their 100%;
  • Who invests in the development of every employee. They want to see each employee grow as an individual. They enhance a team’s strengths and improve upon their weaknesses;
  • Who is held accountable for their actions, even when things go right and when they go wrong. When employees see this, they will be inspired to be more accountable and more mindful of their role on the team.

Give Recognition Where Is Due

Team morale is an essential ingredient of every company culture. Regardless of whether you’re a small startup or an enterprise company, you have to show your employees their work is valued and appreciated to boost productivity and engagement. 

In fact, employees who do not feel recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit.

When an employee feels that their work is valued, their satisfaction levels rise, and they become motivated to work towards improving their work quality even more.

Employee recognition is a low-cost performance management method but has a high impact. And if you thought that money is the only or the top form of recognition, you would be wrong.

A small personal note, a public recognition via a Slack chat, or promotion are all fantastic forms of recognition that employees love. 

But apart from how the employee is recognized, another important part is who is doing the recognizing. 

In a Gallup workplace survey, employees were asked to say who gave them the most meaningful recognition. Around 28% said their most meaningful recognition came from a manager, 24% said it came from a high-level leader or CEO, 12% said it came from a manager’s manager, and 9% said it came from peers. 

So, the next time one of your gig workers does an amazing job, make sure you let them know their work is valued and appreciated. Doing so can lead to many positive workplace outcomes.

Create Virtual Water Coolers

Human beings crave relationships and close connections. They want to feel like part of a group, and when they do, their overall well-being significantly improves.

As 20% of remote employees are battling loneliness, companies that hire remotely should exert double the effort to help create a sense of community. 

In-office teams have their trust falls and watercooler conversations. Thanks to tools such as Slack and Zoom, gig workers can have their own virtual team-building activities. 

Some great ways to bond when working remotely include:

  • playing online games
  • dedicating regular meetings for personal sharing
  • hosting a virtual book club
  • hosting themed events

If you have a community manager at your company, encourage them to think of fun and engaging ways to bring the employees together, whether that is for a virtual coffee meeting or a company trivia session. 

Final Word

The popularity of the gig talent is on the rise and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Eager to hire more rapidly and cost-effectively, companies worldwide are reaching out to external experts.

However, hiring an external expert is only one step closer to your goals. In order to experience the full benefits of employing a gig worker, companies must implement effective performance management to ensure gig talent is fully engaged and productive. 

To do so, simply use the steps we outlined below. Encourage open discussions, assign good managers, and give recognition where is due. Taking these steps can lead to content and motivated workforce who’s invested in the company’s success and wants to see it flourish.

Tosho Trajanov

Senior Technology Consultant

Tosho is the CTO and co-founder of Adeva. He’s also a tech consultant with vast experience in working with startups and larger enterprises. His extensive portfolio includes giving back to the community by writing tech posts, speaking at conferences, and promoting the movement of cross-cultural, distributed teams. When he’s not helping tech companies scale their engineering teams, you can find him reading about Artificial Intelligence as the true enthusiast that he is.



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