The gig economy has been on a steady rise in recent years, transforming the way businesses operate and how individuals approach their careers. The shift in how workers find and select jobs and employers is giving them more power to find fulfilling and well-paying jobs, all while increasing their level of flexibility and allowing them to work around other commitments such as school, or family caregiving.
As more workers move in the direction of gig or flexible work, businesses need to consider how they can start to leverage this fast-growing segment of the workforce to improve their operations and tap into the talent no longer looking for traditional full-time employment.
Why Companies are Increasingly Turning to Gig Workers in 2023
With the advent of gig economy apps like Uber, DoorDash, and Instawork, workers are increasingly opting to use tools and apps like these to find work that better aligns with their preferences, schedules, and responsibilities.
The growing gig economy is driven by a number of factors, including advancements in technology, shifting workforce demographics, and the desire for increased flexibility and autonomy among workers.
Above all, the main reason many companies are choosing to hire gig workers is the cost-effectiveness and flexibility it offers. When companies engage with gig workers, they gain the ability to scale their workforce up or down as needed, allowing them to respond more effectively to fluctuations in demand or changes to their specific capacity needs. This approach, when managed effectively, can lead to significant cost savings as they can reduce overstaffing, overtime, and some of the costs associated with full-time employees such as benefits.
More importantly, the gig economy enables companies to tap into a larger, more diverse and pool of talent, with specialized skills and expertise that may not be available in-house. This can lead to increased innovation and improved overall performance when aligned with the right strategy.
If you’re looking for gig worker talent, what are your options?
The rise of digital platforms and remote work has made it easier than ever for businesses to connect with and hire gig workers.
But it’s important to understand that the “gig economy” encompasses workers across a wide range of industries and specialized skill sets.
Which platform or gig work app you use will depend on what type of workers you need, your budget, and the length of engagement you have need for:
- Freelancer marketplaces: Recommended for hiring specialized creative, technical, or marketing roles. Businesses can look at past work examples, reviews and ratings, and more specific information about a freelancer’s specialized skill sets and knowledge.
- One-off task apps: Recommended for simply looking for an extra set of hands, or help with a limited set of tasks. Skill sets here can vary depending on the worker chosen, and can be either unskilled or specialized to particular projects.
- Hourly work platforms: Also known as temporary staffing solutions. Recommended for longer-term engagement. These platforms typically feature workers with both skilled and unskilled backgrounds, and can range in their level of specialization.
As you’re looking to narrow down to a specific platform to source gig workers for your business, the following are some of the largest and most established.
Top Online Platforms for Hiring Gig Workers
Instawork stands out as the premier platform for employers seeking to find workers in the hourly workforce, offering a user-friendly and efficient solution to meet their staffing needs. Instawork has a pool of over 4 million workers across the majority of major markets in the US and Canada, and with skill sets ranging from general labor to more highly-qualified and experienced hospitality workers.
One of the key advantages of Instawork is its commitment to quality and reliability. They thoroughly screen and vet all of their workers, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications for the job. Additionally, Instawork offers a rating system that enables employers to review the performance of gig workers, providing valuable insights and fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.
A unique benefit of Instawork’s staffing model is that they are able to offer temporary workers for businesses for every use case including one-time needs, all the way through extended assignments. This allows for flexibility to bridge short-term capacity gaps or to cover longer-term seasonal needs.
Instawork’s worker pool is varied and diverse, and is used across a wide range of industries. They historically have worked the most with hospitality businesses, but in recent years have expanded their services to industries such as logistics and warehousing, retail, and a variety of others. Instawork has a proven track record of providing high-quality workers that help power the operations of businesses and often become part of their core staffing strategy.
Upwork is one of the largest freelancing platforms that connects businesses with talented gig workers, offering a wide range of services across various industries but with a focus on creative and technical roles. The platform enables employers to post projects, receive proposals from freelancers, and select the best candidate based on their skills, experience, and ratings.
Employers can use Upwork to connect with an extensive network of freelancers specializing in areas such as web and software development, graphic design, writing and content creation, and marketing and advertising, among others.
Upwork offers several features that help employers make more informed hiring decisions about freelancers, including detailed profiles complete with work samples, client reviews, and success scores. This enables employers to assess the quality and suitability of potential candidates for their needs. Upwork also offers various collaboration tools, such as real-time chat and file sharing, which facilitate seamless communication and project management between employers and freelancers.
Freelancer.com is a prominent online marketplace that offers a comprehensive solution for businesses seeking to outsource projects, providing access to a diverse range of freelancers with expertise in various industries.
The platform features freelancers specializing in areas such as web and software development, graphic design, writing and content creation, marketing and advertising, data analysis, customer support, and administrative tasks, among others. This broad range of expertise allows employers to use the platform as a one-stop solution for their project needs.
In addition to its vast network of gig workers, Freelancer.com provides detailed freelancer profiles, complete with work samples, client reviews, and ratings, enabling employers to assess the quality and suitability of potential candidates. It also offers various collaboration tools, such as real-time chat and file sharing, which facilitate seamless communication and project management between employers and freelancers.
Fiverr is a popular online marketplace that connects employers with talented gig workers, offering a wide range of services across various industries. The platform is known for its unique approach, where freelancers create "gigs" that outline their services, pricing, and delivery timeframes. Employers can browse through these gigs and select the best candidate based on their skills, experience, and ratings.
Employers can find a diverse variety of gig workers on Fiverr, including freelancers specializing in areas such as graphic design, writing and content creation, web and software development, marketing and advertising, video and animation, music and audio production, data analysis, customer support, and administrative tasks, among others. This makes Fiverr a good source for businesses that may have a diverse set of needs.
In addition to its vast selection of gig workers, Fiverr offers several features that help employers make informed hiring decisions. The platform provides detailed freelancer profiles, complete with work samples, client reviews, and ratings, enabling employers to assess the quality and suitability of potential candidates.
5. Creative Circle
Creative Circle is a specialized staffing agency that connects employers with a curated network of creative and marketing professionals, offering a wide range of services across various industries. The platform focuses on providing high-quality talent for temporary, temp-to-hire, and full-time positions, ensuring that businesses have access to the best creative minds to drive their projects forward. With its personalized approach, dedicated account managers, and rigorous vetting process, Creative Circle has become a trusted choice for employers looking to hire gig workers in the creative and marketing fields.
Creative Circle Features professionals specializing in areas such as graphic design, copywriting, web and software development, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, marketing and advertising, social media management, video production, and project management, among others.
Toptal is a highly selective global network that connects employers with top-tier freelance talent, offering a wide range of services across various industries. The platform prides itself on its rigorous vetting process, which ensures that only the top 3% of applicants are accepted into the network. This focus on quality makes Toptal an ideal choice for employers seeking highly skilled gig workers for their projects, particularly in the fields of software development, design, finance, and project management.
Toptal features professionals specializing in areas such as web and software development, graphic design, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, finance and accounting, project management, and product management, among others.
PeoplePerHour is a popular online marketplace that connects employers with a range of skilled gig workers. The platform allows employers to post projects, receive proposals from freelancers, and select the best candidate based on their skills, experience, and ratings.
Employers can find an extensive array of gig workers on PeoplePerHour, and features freelancers specializing in areas such as web and software development, graphic design, writing and content creation, marketing and advertising, data analysis, customer support, and administrative tasks, among others.
FAQs about Finding and Hiring Gig Workers
What is considered gig work?
Gig work refers to the mix of temporary, flexible, and often project-based work arrangements where individuals are hired as independent contractors or freelancers instead of full-time employees. Gig workers are able to have more agency in selecting the work they take on, and develop their own schedule based on how many gigs they decide to accept.
What are the pros and cons of hiring gig workers?
- Cost-effectiveness: Employers can save on benefits and other overhead costs related to full-time hiring.
- Flexibility: Employers can scale their workforce up or down based on demand.
- Access to specialized skills: Employers can tap into a diverse pool of talent with specific expertise.
- Less consistency: Workers may change day-to-day, so more training may be needed to use gig workers most effectively.
- Potential for inconsistent quality: The quality of work may vary between different gig workers.
- Legal and tax implications: Employers need to ensure compliance with labor laws and tax regulations for independent contractors.
What should employers understand before hiring gig workers?
Hiring gig workers for projects or tasks is not going to replicate full-time employees’ level of training, experience, and understanding of your business. You will need to invest more time upfront and throughout the utilization of a gig worker to ensure they’re trained and understand the expectations of what needs to be done. However, over time many businesses are finding that gig workers can become just as critical a part of your operations as your core staff, even if they’re not a full-time payroll employee.
How should employers select a gig work platform from which to hire workers?
Employers should consider factors such as the platform's reputation, the range of services and skills offered, the quality of freelancers, the platform's vetting process, pricing structure, and available collaboration tools. They should also read reviews and testimonials from other employers who have used the platform to understand how and when to best utilize each tool.
What are the downsides of gig workers?
- More training is often needed up front to make gig workers an effective player in your strategy.
- Increased management effort to coordinate and communicate with multiple gig workers.
- Legal and tax implications associated with hiring independent contractors.
- Less consistency and more turnover in the workers taking on projects or tasks.
As more workers shift towards trying their hand in the gig economy, it presents many potential benefits for businesses looking to source talent and maintain flexibility in their operations. While there are obvious pros and cons to using gig workers instead of traditional full-time employees, many of these can be mitigated with good preparation, onboarding, and a clear operational strategy.
With so many gig work platforms available, having a clear sense of how you want to use gig workers in your business and understanding the challenges that you may face is critical to getting the most benefit. But with the right preparation, research, and approach these tools can provide major upside as a way to boost growth and uncover talent that may not have been available otherwise.