On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Bridget from WorkMarket, an ADP company about managing the gig workforce.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 25 minutes
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Bridget Quinn KirchnerFollow
Announcer: 00:00 This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Bridget on from WorkMarket, an ADP company. And our topic today is managing the gig workforce. And I know everyone’s got questions about this. They’ve been doing it and helping people with it for a long time. So I can’t wait for Bridget to kind of school us on this. So Bridget, would you do us a favor and both introduce yourself and WorkMarket?
Bridget Quinn K…: 01:03 Sure. And it’s so nice to be here, William. Thank you for having me today.
William Tincup: 01:07 Sure.
Bridget Quinn K…: 01:08 So my name is Bridget Quinn Kirchner and I lead the client experience teams at WorkMarket, an ADP company. Our focus here, from a client and worker perspective, is to provide the most optimal, frictionless experience to allow clients and workers to engage and manage their workforce on our platform.
01:30 And what WorkMarket is, is an enterprise software platform that allows clients to organize, manage, and pay their freelance workforce. And then from a worker perspective, if I’m a freelancer, I have the ability to sign up for an account and have access to some of the best clients domestically and internationally to leverage my craft on WorkMarket platform.
William Tincup: 01:57 Okay. Let’s start with, what do you see? First of all, what’s some trends? What do you see in the gig workforce now as of here we are almost September. Almost. So what are you seeing as trends wise?
Bridget Quinn K…: 02:16 So we have seen incremental growth for as far back as we could probably guess. There has been incremental growth year over year, increasing freelancers in the US workforce. What we’re seeing today is about 40% of the US workforce today is freelance.
02:36 And we can’t really talk about work and freelance work without talking about the talent revolution and what we’ve seen in workers kind of making life choices due to lessons they’ve learned from the pandemic. So with that, we’ve seen that over the next five years or so, the growth is picking up slightly. And we’re expecting a little over half, about 51% of the US workforce will be freelance in the next five years.
03:07 And what’s a little bit different about that data now than ever was before is those freelancers are going to be expected to be a little bit of a hybrid, right? So maybe they are a W2 and then they’re also doing some 1099 work to leverage some of their expertise.
William Tincup: 03:23 Wow. Okay. Okay. So did COVID… I’m assuming, but I don’t want assume, that COVID sped some of the things that were already moving in this direction and COVID sped things up. First of all, do I have that right?
Bridget Quinn K…: 03:42 I mean, there’s different theories on that, William.
William Tincup: 03:44 Yes. Yes.
Bridget Quinn K…: 03:45 But I think it’s a safe bet. What we read a lot of is workers have really thought about this work/life balance, and do I want to live to work or do I want to work to live? And we think that’s a driver in some of the speed up of the the incremental growth that we’ve seen over the last several decades.
William Tincup: 04:12 Is it generational? Is it… Do you see anything? Is it the data, does it come pop out, like certain areas of the world or?
Bridget Quinn K…: 04:20 No.
William Tincup: 04:21 Is there anything in the data?
Bridget Quinn K…: 04:23 I’m so glad you asked that because-
William Tincup: 04:24 Sure.
Bridget Quinn K…: 04:26 … we work with various different companies and various different industries.
William Tincup: 04:31 Right.
Bridget Quinn K…: 04:31 … and therefore their talent mix is very different too, if they’re doing it right at least. But from a gen-Z perspective, if we take a look at gen-Zs today, right? Because we’re doing a lot of hiring, there’s a lot of gen-Zs graduating, coming into the workforce. Three out of four gen-Z workers have said that they are likely to be freelancers in the near future. They expect about 73% of the growth to be from that gen-Z, from that group participating in the gig economy.
05:02 We do see some of the newer graduates coming out are considering it right off the bat, but it’s pretty close with millennials as well. So if gen-Z sits at about 73%, millennials are about 70%. And then it goes all the way down to baby boomers are about 39%.
05:20 So there’s been a big shift in some early retirements and some people speeding up their retirement as a result of the pandemic and still about 39% of that generation is still looking to be freelance and even leveraging some of that expertise after retirement, right? Doing it on their own terms.
William Tincup: 05:39 Wow. That is fantastic. First of all, I came from the creative agency world, interactive PR, advertising, stuff like that. And so in that world, we’ve always had freelancers. Especially in the creative world, we always had freelancers, so it wasn’t unusual. But there was a period where there’s at least a perception where some jobs can’t be gig or freelanced out. Do you think that that perception still exists in HR or recruiting?
Bridget Quinn K…: 06:17 I do. I don’t know if it’s the right perception, but I do-
William Tincup: 06:21 Right. Right. Yeah.
Bridget Quinn K…: 06:23 I do think that perception exists.
William Tincup: 06:25 Right. Right.
Bridget Quinn K…: 06:27 But we’re seeing more and more, especially… If I were to take a step back and look at the customers that I have today on the WorkMarket platform with ADP, I have some customers that are very comfortable. Their businesses have been leveraging freelancers since the dawn of time. And they feel very comfortable with managing the regulation, the management of the work, the relationships, and making sure they’re using the right talent to get the work done.
06:55 But I have another group that have become so curious that they may not have been doing it for long or maybe not at all, and they are getting started doing that. And they’re leveraging us, not only for the technology piece to manage this, but also for some of the thought leadership and partnership to help to start building this out. And these are in industries that maybe weren’t originally thought of as that freelance industry that you’ve referenced before. So we see a slow growth in some of those areas, but again, I don’t know that that’s the right perception, but unfortunately I think it still exists today.
William Tincup: 07:31 Yeah. It’s almost, there’s a bit of a bias that’s underneath that, that’s not interesting. Let me ask you… Let’s back up to the platform, because I think it would actually help contextualize things for the audience. Tell us a little about WorkMarket, the problem that you solve and in particular I’m thinking about managing…
07:54 Okay, when I think of managing gig workers, I think of okay, pay. I think of compliance. I think of communication. I think of quality. I think of all these different things, but I’m probably… Probably none of that is true. So why don’t you school me and the audience on, okay, WorkMarket, this is the problem, this is what it does? So we’ll just kind of go features and attributes and just kind of… That I think will help them.
Bridget Quinn K…: 08:20 Sure. It depends on who you talk to, but I do hear some businesses say, “Oh, I have a solution to manage my freelance workforce. And I use an Excel spreadsheet or Google spreadsheet.” That’s great, but that’s probably…
William Tincup: 08:34 The largest HR tech company in the world is Microsoft Office.
Bridget Quinn K…: 08:40 But unfortunately not everyone looks at their freelance labor like they do their W2s.
William Tincup: 08:48 Right.
Bridget Quinn K…: 08:48 So there are many companies that aren’t using an HRIS system like ADP’s Workforce Now to manage that end to end experience, but that’s exactly what WorkMarket is and does.
08:57 If you think about what that experience is for W2, from recruiting, vetting, the talent, setting, the right expectations for that talent, creating the relationships, staying engaged, onboarding them, and then really agreeing on terms of whatever that role or assignment are, taking that down to fruition, paying them, and then later rating them. After we’re finished our engagement together, you get to rate me and I get to rate you. So we can both decide if we want to work together in the future or not.
09:29 And for me, primarily one of the biggest gains outside of the visibility that you get in your workforce, and the spend in your workforce, the management of the regulation guardrails that you set for your business, being able to manage all of that in the WorkMarket platform and have a little bit more peace of mind.
09:50 In addition, the other thing that’s really important is the worker experience. I don’t think an Excel spreadsheet, actually I probably know by now, an Excel spreadsheet or a Google spreadsheet is not going to help the worker have that right experience.
10:04 And in a time where talent is really hard to come by, especially with the expertise that a business may be looking for, having that experience for them to be able to go through that process end to end where there’s some automation built in, there’s a closed loop communication feature. And also they get the ability to decide if they want to work with you again in the future and have those records for themselves, I think, is the other real benefit of our platform.
William Tincup: 10:32 Do you see kind a bleed? Because you brought up experience that makes me think of candidate experience, but also employee experience. Do you see? Because there was almost like a… Years ago, there was complete different treatment. Here’s full-time FTEs. Here’s the treatment. And then with freelancers, there’s a completely… It’s almost like second class citizen. A completely different treatment of those folks. Do you see that different or the practitioners do they see that different?
Bridget Quinn K…: 11:06 They do. And I think they’re almost demanding it these days. The control today sits in the role of the talent and how they want to spend their time and leverage their expertise and who they want to share that with. So I think rightly so, they’re demanding that.
11:24 And this isn’t something that I have to say, but I enjoy doing it as much as I can is your 1099 workers, freelancers, independent contractors, whatever term you’d like to use for it, are human beings too. And sometimes we forget that it’s not a tool or something to help us get work done. This is another human being that has a level of expertise that I’m looking to leverage and I’m looking to purchase.
11:53 And it’s in my benefit to create a relationship with that person. Make sure they understand not only what the process looks like, the type of work they’re doing, how they can depend on me during that process, and also what their value is to my organization. So, you do have to manage these groups separately. That’s something that’s very true.
12:11 And you want to be careful of guardrails because you really are hiring an entity. This person is a business of one. So they do need to be engaged and managed separately, but they do need to understand what value they provide to your business because you’ll find them at their best that way. And you’ll probably have the ability to work with them again.
William Tincup: 12:31 Do you see with your customers, especially on the platform, do you see it as a trend? Is there conversions either way conversions from gig to employee, employee to gig?
Bridget Quinn K…: 12:44 I think we see a lot of, I would call it, hybrid. But yes, I think everything in between. I think we’re in this place where people are deciding what’s best for them and sometimes it’s both.
12:57 And there’s a lot of drivers too that drive a lot of that. One of them is as a worker, we’re finding just having the payment flexibility is important. You’ve noted you’ve been working as a freelancer with freelancers for years. And part of that is there were times where you would put out an invoice to your client. You would wait a few weeks. Not hear anything. You would call them to follow up. You may have to reinvoice them, right? And this could go on sometimes for months.
William Tincup: 13:26 Right.
Bridget Quinn K…: 13:27 I think now what the workforce is demanding not only from a freelance side, but also from W2s is, what’s my payment flexibility? How quickly can I get my money? How do you support me if I’m unbanked? Could I get part of my money now? Could I save some for later? So that flexibility in how I’m paid when I’m paid is also something that’s important.
13:50 But I think they’re key drivers that help the worker decide how they want to work. But we see a lot of that hybrid work happening both in either side and then sometimes both, like we said earlier. Sometimes they’re a W2 during the day and then they’re leveraging their expertise in the evening.
William Tincup: 14:09 So who manages gig workers? Probably a question that the audience is thinking right now. It’s at the end of the day. Is it centralized? And that there’s a, or should be, I guess, and there’s one team that manages all of the gig workers or is it just decentralized? How does the management of gig workers, how does that play out?
Bridget Quinn K…: 14:30 So at WorkMarket and ADP today we work a lot with work line of business managers and operations, the people that are getting the work done and need to come up with a strategy to find the right talent at the right place at the right time and for the right price. But also we’re seeing an uptick in working with HR and payroll as well.
14:55 So it does depend on who the business is and sometimes even their industry on who we’re working with directly. But we do for the most part today, the clients that I work with on my platform are primarily I’m working with the line of business managers that are just getting the actual work done.
William Tincup: 15:14 I love it. Best practices. If we were to explain to someone that’s never managed gig workers before, where would you start with them? What are the 10 commandments-ish of managing gig workers? That’s a horrible reference, but let’s just… We’ll run with it anyhow. What do you consider the best practices of managing gig workers?
Bridget Quinn K…: 15:38 So I would say there should be four.
William Tincup: 15:40 Okay.
Bridget Quinn K…: 15:41 I like a top list. So here’s my top four.
15:45 Number one is make sure you know what you want your freelancers to do. Have a plan.
15:51 Number two is flexibility of payment. So make sure how you’re going to pay them, what puts and takes you have to be able to pay them quicker and within different channels.
16:04 Number three is create relationships. So make sure your worker knows who they’re working with, what their impact is to your business and then what your company culture is, what you stand for. Today a lot of workers are making choices on companies they want to work with by what the values of the companies are as well. So make sure you’re creating those relationships.
16:28 And then last but certainly not least, make sure you’re investing in the right technology to manage this end to end process. So a platform like WorkMarket will allow you to organize, manage, and pay that entire experience based on those guardrails that we talked about earlier on. Setting that plan that you’ve set in WorkMarket will allow you some peace of mind and really will just allow you to focus on what’s important. The work, right?
16:54 So that’s my top four. Make sure you have a plan, make sure you have payment flexibility, create those relationships, and invest in the right technology.
William Tincup: 17:04 And first of all, that’s perfect. We could probably do a complete podcast on just those four things. Have you seen it with a rise in kind of a daily pay or people being able to tab out at the end of a shift or at the end of whatever that they’re doing? Because with payroll y’all have seen this, I know this from an ADP perspective, y’all have seen kind of a rise of employees. You see it in hospitality and in hourly markets, but we’ve actually seen it now creep over into professional markets and that people they’re accountants, they want to be paid at the end of the day, which is, I mean, conceptually almost crazy to think about.
17:47 But again, like you said, talent drives. So what do you see with gig workers? What are their, not demands, but what are their expectations as it relates to pay and the timing of pay? Because it used to be we agreed on the work, I did the work, I invoiced you for the work, I got paid for the work. Pretty simple. Kind of a simple bit. Is it still like that or has some of the daily pay stuff crept over?
Bridget Quinn K…: 18:20 It’s crept over for sure. I think expectations of how quickly can I get paid are definitely part of the flexibility we talked about. And using technology like WorkMarket will allow you to do that, right?
18:33 So I think it really depends on the industry. And like you said, it was really prevalent outside of let’s call it the professional industry for lack of a better term, but we do see it more and more now. And not only do they want sometimes pay the same day or even the same week, but they also want it outside of a bank account. So maybe they want a pay card. So I think as the talent continues to kind of drive the market, if we want the best out of people, we’re going to have to pay more attention to some of this flexibility that’s required.
William Tincup: 19:11 Love it. What about benefits? Is there anything there in terms of health benefits, financial wellness, or any of those types of things? Some of the stuff that you would see with employees, the typical things that you would offer as a package for employees, is there any bleed there with gig workers?
Bridget Quinn K…: 19:34 I think the trends are changing a bit, but we did, ADP Research Institute did a study a few years ago that showed that 90% of freelancers at that time already had health insurance from another source. Which was eye-opening for me because if I had to guess at that time, I would’ve said, “Of course, they’re independent contractors. They’re business owners of themselves. They need health insurance.” That absolutely was not the case then.
19:59 What we’re seeing is, and we need to dig further into this data, but with the change in demands and flexibility and the needs, and especially those that are hybrid freelance and W2, I think there’s more to come on that. But I think the request of “What else is available? And what’s the other value you can provide me?” is definitely going to be a growing list.
William Tincup: 20:22 Last question, if someone’s never done this before, where do they start? And they want to. Everyone’s kind of resistant to change. So if you’ve never done this, maybe it’s in industry and you just that industry, the oil and gas, you’ve just never done this bit, but you can see that the talent is moving in that direction and you’re going to either lose the talent or just never get the talent, if you don’t move that way. What’s your advice to folks, A, to think about talent differently?
Bridget Quinn K…: 21:03 So the first thing I would do is challenge the business to look at their workforce holistically and then compare that to the work that needs to get done. So when I say holistically, when we think about a contingent workforce, that’s a mixture of your W2 workers, your temporary workers, as well as your contingent workers. And then there’s also this other category that we don’t talk about a lot, but like vendors.
21:30 So I would challenge the business to take a look at the work that needs to get done and the contingent workforce that they have available and decide how that freelance or that independent contractor pool will benefit the type of work. Because you do want to use that group of workers very strategically and in the right way, leveraging their expertise
William Tincup: 21:54 Drops mic. Walks off stage. Thank you so much, Bridget. This has been wonderful.
Bridget Quinn K…: 22:00 William, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
William Tincup: 22:02 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.