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You understand that the talent landscape is shifting. You’ve heard the warnings and predictions that freelance and contract workers will make up 43% of the US workforce by 2020. We’re now in the age of the “Gig Economy”, and it’s changing status quo for employers just like you.

Competition throughout the hiring environment has reached a fever pitch. Today’s gig talent has full transparency into what they’re worth and what competitors are offering, and they’re using this power to choose their workplaces carefully. If you can’t deliver what they’re looking for, they have the capability, resources and flexibility to find an employer that will. But, you aren’t powerless here. Companies have the opportunity to drive better talent acquisition and employee retention by figuring out what matters most to today’s selective professionals—then using strategic employer branding to make it clear that they’re a top-notch place to work.

The question is, how? In our research for the 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands Report—which features over 16,000 data points and analysis of leaders across all industries—we uncovered what matters most to today’s gig talent, as well as the employer brand strategies you can integrate to meet their personal and professional aspirations.


1. Professionals in the Gig Economy Desire “Trust”

According to a study conducted by StaffBay, including feedback from 15,000 professionals, nearly 53% of employees who planned to leave their job in recent years say it was because they do not “trust” those in charge. A Quantum Workplace employee engagement report reaffirms this trend, with respondents saying “trust in senior leaders” has the greatest impact on candidate and employee engagement.

Leadership sets the example for your workforce to follow; they are drivers of culture and employment brand, and they make strategic decisions that impact your ability to grow, evolve, recruit and retain. The research above as well as the analysis in our Fortune 500 report reaffirms that, regardless of employment type, today’s professionals seek inclusivity, transparency, humility and managers who view them as more than just a role description.


2. Compensation and Stagnation Matters

A 2017 study from Glassdoor offers an in-depth look at exactly what motivates people to quit their jobs. Based on analysis of more than 5,000 workers who changed companies between 2008-2017, Glassdoor found that employee compensation is the number two reason people – temporary and permanent – voluntarily leave, second only to company culture (see “trust” above).

Moreover, among 18-35 year olds, the “ability to learn and progress” is now the principle drivers of candidate and employee decisions. For top-quality Gig workers, in addition to and in parallel with compensation, this is at the top of their employer of choice lists.

With your temporary staff, stagnation might not register as an issue that needs exploring (as these staff are, by definition, “temporary”). However, research highlights the importance of continuously evaluating pay structure, role titles and growth opportunities to ensure Gig workers not only accept project offers but give more consideration to re-upping or returning. It’s also important to note that, for Gig workers, “the ability to learn and progress” can take many forms – including higher pay in the next contract, the ability to “stretch” in new ways, being a referral system for your Gig employees, or even being intentional about helping them build their networks.


3. Your Values Carry Significant Weight

Nearly 65 % of candidates and employees (including 76% of 18-35 year olds) say that, when a company takes a vocal stand on social or environmental issues, they will do their research to uncover its authenticity. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) might not be a Gig worker’s driving factor when it comes to career decisions, but research shows that a company’s mission, vision and values matters greatly to both permanent and temporary professionals.

Fortune 500 CEOs agree, too. In fact, the top 100 Fortune 500 employment brands in WilsonHCG’s aforementioned report scored 232 % better than the bottom 100 in the CSR category. Couple this with the fact that, according to PwC, 64% of CEOs believe CSR is "core to their business".


In brief, leaders have recognized that consumers of all types support (i.e., buy from) companies that care about employee welfare, community development, diversity, environmental sustainability, and human rights. Likewise, they also realize that candidates and employees are being driven to join/stay with organizations that invest in such causes. CSR is but one factor of your employment brand, but it’s a factor that matters to the 18-35 year old Gig candidate and employee.

Employment branding isn't about shiny bells and whistles, or simply catching the eyes of intrigued candidates. If authentic and truly invested in, it can be a revenue-driving, business differentiator that plays a vital role in the decisions of your people. In fact, in WilsonHCG’s Fortune 500 report, the top 10 employment brands earn a combined 157% more in revenue than the bottom 10. Our research shows that the very best Gig Economy talent won’t hesitate to refuse their next project or contract offer if they aren’t being properly valued, or if they can find a more attractive “employer of choice” elsewhere.

Ultimately, companies that authentically listen and respond to the aspirations of people are rising above as an employer of choice.