Industry experts share their solutions to some of the biggest problems facing construction business owners & their teams

Greg Barnett, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President
The Predictive Index

Potential Benefits

  1. With gig hiring, companies are able to run leaner operations (i.e., a smaller core) and hire when there is demand. This can save significant money and allow companies to bid on many more projects because they do not have to consider labor resource constraints that could prevent them from doing the work.
  2. Gig-based hiring can remove much of the talent-management overhead, including recruitment costs and time, human resources processes, paying benefits and salaries, and even performance reviews. If someone doesn’t work well or doesn’t fit, not hiring them back is the ultimate performance review.
  3. Gig hiring opens up the potential talent pool. Most research shows that gig hiring is more attractive to millennials because they’re afforded increased work flexibility and mobility. Additionally, it is appealing to highly skilled laborers who are seeking more work variety or control over their lives.
  4. Potential Downsides

    1. Gig workers may not be as motivated or engaged as nongig workers because they are completing a specific job, not serving as part of a broader company mission. Employee engagement is important to productivity, so it is important to find ways to keep gig workers motivated.
    2. A less rigorous hiring process, focused only on skills, could lead to finding a bunch of skilled but underperforming employees. Companies should still vet gig workers aggressively, using assessments, interviews and other tools.
    3. Finding the best talent may cost more money. Because gig workers are open to the highest bidder, they have more negotiating power, especially when they know that companies have a specific and immediate need.
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      Nick Bardall

      Co-Founder & Owner
      Stout Conveyors LLC

      The nature of a gig, and the expectation of the freelance professional, is finite, project-based work. This relationship works for us because gig workers’ desire for and expectation of short-term engagements aligns with our efforts to grow sustainably.

      As a new company entering the market, with only projected cash flow, the gig economy has afforded Stout the ability to use professional resources as we need them. The partnership is mutual. If we cannot promise a full-time package plus benefits, then we will promise one project.

      In addition, it is costly to hire the wrong people. In an indirect way, the gig economy enables start-up businesses to hire the right people, for the right reasons, at the right time—and not out of necessity. And people are ultimately our greatest investment.

      Tim Christner

      President
      Christner Contracting LLC

      The gig economy has always been around. I believe the industry is seeing it become more prevalent because of the low unemployment rate. Being a small Midwest residential and light commercial general contractor, I regularly use independent gig workers to fill gaps.

      The manufacturing labor force in this region pays extremely well, so it is difficult to entice workers to leave those positions for full-time employment in the trades. Those employees do see an opportunity to supplement their income, however, and many are willing to pick up extra income while the economy supports it. The 18-24-month lead times from the larger trade-diversified companies has provided a great opportunity for these workers to help complete smaller renovation and addition projects—jobs companies and customers are finding hard to fill.

      Being a small company, I am the accounting team, and in order to fill customer needs, I need the gig workers to offset the shortage of trades workers. For the customer, our being able to fill the hiring needs of niche projects instills confidence in the oversight coming from the superintendent on the jobsite. Freelance employees allow me to do just that.

      A Different Take

      Peter Maglathlin

      Co-Founder
      Trade Hounds

      The gig economy has pervaded most industries, but one place it’s noticeably absent is in the construction space. Yes, platforms like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor have captured the handyman opportunity, and they’ve succeeded in connecting that type of worker to homeowners and consumers broadly.

      However, the commercial construction worker—the hard-hat-wearing, highly skilled professionals who are building large structures across the country—have largely been unaffected by the emergence of the gig economy. Why is that? I’d argue it’s largely a translation problem. No one has yet succeeded in congregating these workers on one platform by understanding their communication habits and replicating them with technology.

      Generally, construction workers don’t use traditional resumes, they use imagery to communicate their skill sets. They’re almost exclusively mobile-technology users, not desktop users, which is why they aren’t often on platforms like LinkedIn or other job-hiring platforms.

      The company that succeeds in delivering technology that fits the needs for these workers will capture their mind share, which is the critical step in connecting this workforce to employers and job opportunities in general.

To submit your question, email Associate Editor Rachel Fulford at rfulford@cahabamedia.com.