The idea of an ‘uberized’ workforce has grown exponentially in recent years. A study by Fieldglass referenced in Fast Company, indicated that “in 2015 the average company’s workforce consisted of 54% traditional, full-time employees, 20% contingent workers (freelancers, interns, and contractors), and 26% that existed in a gray area somewhere between the two (including remote and part-time workers). These researchers predicted that by 2017, the share of non-traditional workers would grow to 25% contingent, 34% grey area, and 41% traditional workers.
Fast Company also recently cited a study by Adobe that revealed that one-third of today’s workforce reported having a second job, while 56% of poll respondents believed we would all have multiple jobs in the future.
With such an eclectic and disparate workforce potentially running on different schedules, in different locations and often in different time zones – how can HR leaders motivate and cultivate a strong cultural environment? How can such seemingly disparate teams work passionately towards a shared goal?
Interestingly, in the face of growing competition from Microsoft, and other west coast tech companies, IBM, a company that has long touted itself as an innovator announced recently that it was going to remove employees’ work-from-home options. Its Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Peluso was quoted in an internal memo as saying the only formula she knows for success is bringing people with the right skills together with the right tools in inspiring locations. According to media reports, this also means employees can’t choose which office they want to work from – they will be assigned an office location by the company.
I would humbly argue that in today’s uberized workforce, such directives will come across as outdated. In tech battlegrounds, and in many other industries where competition is fierce, leaders like Peluso could be risking losing their best talent due to such constrictive thinking.
Consider a recent video by YouTube personality, Casey Neisat entitled, “Do What You Can’t.” This video captures much of the spirit of our social culture today. It is all about dogged determination, creativity, and freedom to pursue what you want, even when you don’t know how. You figure it out. This, many would argue, is at the heart of innovation. This message is quite a juxtaposition to Peluso’s new work-from-the-office policy.
Today, if you want to scoop up and keep the best talent, you have to play by their rules. They want freedom, they want choice, and you have to find ways to engage them based on their motivating needs. On that thought, here are three tips to consider to motivate your full-time, contract and freelance talent:
- Foster meaningful social connections: In uberized workplaces, we have to create opportunities for in-person social connections on a regular basis among virtual offices so people can feel like they are part of one team. The critical factor for success here is creating an environment that fosters meaningful and authentic connections among the diversified workforce. That is when people will feel committed to each other and collaborate to produce better work.
- Give them freedom from scheduling: taking on a freelance role, or having a second job today may be motivated by a desire to make more money, but equally as often, it is about pursuing passion projects, helping causes that are close to the heart, or cultivating another talent (e.g. music, photography, etc.). To motivate your best talent in such an environment where multiple priorities are being juggled, it is critical to give your team both trust and freedom – to work when they want and how they want. In business today, accountability is not always based on time-worked, but rather by the quality and amount of the work that directly contributes to business success. When people are given responsibility to step up, when they feel they have the full trust of management, ownership of success inherently becomes personal.
- Identify their non-financial values: in a workforce where the corporate ladder is quickly being replaced by the “corporate lattice,” job titles and remuneration alone are no longer enough to motivate the best talent. What are your team members’ core motivators? Do they like to travel, are they passionate about giving back to the community? Are they life-long learners? Find common values among your diverse workforce and give back to them, what they appreciate most. If you have a team of foodies for example, periodic dinners at some of the most trendy restaurants for team bonding might be one way to bring everyone on-board and motivate them – by a show of the company’s appreciation. The key insight here is the methods to engage them are more about the needs of your workforce, than the needs of the company alone. Often, working backwards in such a manner leads to real business success.
Have you experienced an increasingly ‘uberized’ workforce within your company? Share with us your strategies on how you motivate your teams? We’d love to hear from you!