Best Practices for Employee Management in the Gig Economy

The gig economy is revolutionizing the employment sector and shows no signs of slowing down. During an age when digital is the norm, employers need to determine how they can best utilize digital strategies when hiring seasonal or temporary employees. What does this mean for employers and how can they keep up with what seems to be a constantly changing landscape?

In the gig economy, logistical pressure exists – with a premium placed upon human resources departments – to innovate onboarding processes in a way that fits demand. That demand is not merely about efficiency, but also carefully seeks to input the right amount of culture and operations preparedness into bringing on new employees.

The challenges for the restaurant and hospitality industries lie within several companies’ views on onboarding as a wasted cost. This, in turn, causes inevitable damage to quality of internal training, company culture and, ultimately, employee retention. Businesses that are not willing to implement effective hiring tactics will likely lose employees willing to commit to longer-term work.

When thinking about onboarding, employers should consider shifting the time investment to a new hire prior to his or her first day on the job. This benefit can amount to thousands of labor-cost hours per year, and can be implemented simply by the incorporation of an online or mobile system that works to replace some of the first-day routines with productive labor time.

Engage these transient new team members from day one, and take the time to distribute valuable information to them. You don’t necessarily want to run a revolving door of sit-down-captive-audience programs for new staff. However, targeted online training videos and/or text message “memos” are great alternatives. Many scheduling and payroll apps allow for added messaging, and are built to enhance that single transactional moment by adding important information.

In today’s gig economy, candidates are “free agents” who work for others while and in between working for you. Employers should maintain an understanding of the competitive labor pool and look to position themselves as the employer of choice. To effectively accomplish this, human resources departments must communicate with and track these valuable contacts who have the skill set to pick up where they left off. Keeping them in the loop on developments within your organization will build a mentality that they never actually left, and that they’ll always remain part of the big picture.

In a faster, less-attached employment market, outdated compensation practices can deter candidates. Human resources teams need to have a source through which the company can build its own models of real-time market wage data.

It’s important to remain compliant when working with gig workers, as it can present a host of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) pitfalls and labor relations nightmares. These workers are not eligible for benefits and project work lends itself to poor wage practices (e.g., filing employees under 1099 contractor arrangements, when they should actually be W-2 employees).

Remain strategic and compliant throughout the hiring process, and even after employees come on board, to avoid legal pitfalls and a shallow pool of workers. Your restaurant is not an Uber vehicle and cannot be run like one, even if you are part of the growing food delivery movement.

Courtney Allen is Restaurant Management Practice Leader at Adams Keegan, a national HR and employer services company. Among the firm's areas of specialization are restaurant management and hospitality.

This article originally appeared in Modern Restaurant Management