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The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
Engaging gig workers
Fiona Scullion Headshot

Fiona Scullion

Former Lead People Scientist, Culture Amp

We’re living in the gig economy – short-term contracts and freelance work are becoming more prevalent than permanent jobs in many industries. The internet has ushered in with it a greater capability for remote work, while new apps (like Uber and Deliveroo) have given more power to independent contractors and opened up new opportunities for gig-based work.

The growing need for agility in how companies do business means an "on-demand" workforce allows organizations to staff up and down as required. According to a 2021 Pew Research report, 16% of Americans have earned money from a gig platform, but over 50% will likely participate in the gig economy in 2027. As such, keeping these individuals engaged is critical to your business's success.

Here we provide an overview of how you can provide a culture first experience for the gig workers in your organization.

Collect feedback from gig workers before taking action

A lot of existing advice on engaging gig workers focuses on providing tactical solutions at different parts of the employee lifecycle. This ranges from including them in onboarding, creating customized communications, and for some, assessing their culture fit.

While this is important, it misses a key component: understanding how gig workers feel about working at your organization. Before jumping into solution mode, take a step back and diagnose by collecting feedback.

Giving gig workers a voice in your organization is the first step in really understanding how they feel, what drives their engagement, and their experience of working in your organization.

Below, we share some ways to achieve this, including starting a simple conversation, including gig workers in your engagement survey, and gathering feedback on the wider employee experience.

1. Build inclusion by starting with a simple conversation

Whether someone is with your organization for three months or three years, their experience at work matters. Gig workers are not robots. They are people just the same as your salaried employees. When working at your organization, they need to feel included and heard.

A simple way to include people is through informal catch-ups with HR and their managers. Check on how they’re doing in their role or dedicated project or what they’re struggling with in their role. See our guide to employee feedback examples for more discussion topics.

Our research at Culture Amp has shown that belonging is a driver of engagement and, ultimately, an individual’s motivation and the same holds for gig workers. Remember to close the feedback loop by following up on any challenges and next steps.

2. Include gig workers in your engagement survey

The next step to understanding what drives gig workers’ engagement and motivation is to include them in your employee engagement survey.

In addition to asking general employee engagement survey questions, we recommend that you review the results and take action by:

  • Addressing any potential differences in the survey results between gig and salaried employees
  • Identifying an area of focus to improve the overall employee experience. This includes improving your gig worker experience and that of salaried employees.

3. Gather gig worker feedback on the employee experience

Finally, broaden your understanding of the gig worker experience by looking at other points in the employee lifecycle, like recruiting and onboarding.

Gig workers are no different from permanent employees in building perceptions of your brand. Understanding their experience throughout the employee lifecycle ensures your organization provides a culture first experience.

There are several touch points to do this beyond an engagement survey:

  • Candidate survey - If there is a selection process in picking the right candidate for a temporary role ask for their feedback about the process. This type of information highlights not just strengths but opportunities to improve the experience and ultimately keep the ideal candidates for the job engaged.
  • Onboarding and Exit surveys - These are also great tools to gather feedback on experience and perceptions of your brand. How employees enter and leave an organization is as important as how you engage with them during their stay. A great experience is a positive reflection of your culture and brand.

Remember, it is not enough to gather feedback on experiences of the different points of the employee lifecycle, you must also act on it. Choose one area of focus and do it well when making a positive employer brand experience for your organization.

Why gig worker engagement matters

A gig worker’s employee lifecycle is shorter compared to permanent employees, and they will work at multiple companies in a year. Gig workers can be a great platform to leverage your employer brand. Therefore, collecting their feedback to help cultivate a positive experience will ultimately create strong brand advocates for your organization as an employer.

Engaging gig workers is critical because:

  • Strong brand advocacy builds awareness of your brand and ultimately your reputation as an employer people want to work for.
  • Gig workers advocating your brand in the market will build your reputation and help you in attracting potential talent (including gig workers themselves!).
  • Creating an "alumni" of gig workers can be fantastic for business as they will hopefully return with more skills and knowledge to share and add value to your organization.

If you can gather the feedback to build an engaged workforce of gig workers, your organization will be well-positioned to remain relevant and agile in the ever-changing world of work.

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