The Gig Economy is Good for Freelancers and Employers Alike – Here’s Why
More than 56 million people freelanced this year, according to Upwork’s and Freelancers Union’s “Freelancing in America: 2018” survey. As the workforce continues to gravitate toward remote and flexible positions—Nasdaq predicted the percentage of working Americans choosing freelance work over a traditional 9-5 job to rise to 43 percent by 2020—the meetings and events industry should be collectively embracing the shift.
The gig economy is the perfect give-and-take between skilled workers and visionary companies that understand both the value of events and the importance of hiring the best talent to support them.
Freelancers Know They Can Thrive
The market is hot for top talent—plain and simple. Knowing this, creative and business professionals are actually finding more security in freelancing than in full-time positions. It’s no longer considered “taking the plunge,” but rather, “making the choice.” The “Freelancing in America: 2018” report saw an eight percent jump in the number of people who said they freelanced by choice, from 53 percent in 2014 to 61 percent in 2018. Having made this choice myself, I can say that I found comfort in having a diversified customer base as opposed to leaving my livelihood and trajectory in the hands of a single organization.
Employers Get the Best and Brightest
A core in-house team will always be crucial to consistently drive a brand. The benefit of the gig economy for meetings and events is that it’s now more feasible to hire and retain the absolute best in the business, who might otherwise be unattainable in the competitive job market. Freelancers are available for lead and supporting positions such as meeting planning, registration management, event marketing, graphic design, meeting design and strategy, operations and production.
It’s a win-win. Freelancers can charge the rates they’re worth, still coming in below the cost to hire them full-time or that of hiring an agency. And because freelancers are versed to adapt to clients’ needs and processes, employers can plug and play with little to no training or onboarding required. The output is high, while the input and overhead remain low.
Freelancers Stay Ahead of the Trends
“Freelancing in America: 2018” found that freelancers are more proactively updating their skills to remain relevant in the marketplace compared to non-freelancing workers. Seventy percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months, compared to 49 percent of full-time workers.
Although further education may be a benefit offered by organizations, companies do not always give their employees enough time (or motivation) to continually learn and expand their knowledge. With greater control over how they spend their time, freelancers are investing in their professional development so that they can bring a stronger and more versatile skillset to their clients.
Employers Get Outside Perspectives
Event professionals who freelance will find themselves working on events of all types and sizes. The breadth of their experience allows them to bring their own unique perspectives to your organization and, subsequently, apply their observations to your specific situation. This can also spark instant energy and inspiration for an in-house team stuck in the status quo. They will thank you not only for the additional support, but also for the education by association. Instead of having to go out and take courses, they’re learning on the job from experts in different fields.
Freelancers Fulfill Their Passion
Flexibility is undoubtedly a prime draw of freelancing, and one that serves as an endless motor for freelancers to provide quality work and service. They want to be hired again so they can continue to live freely and do what they love. Additionally, a successful freelancer can pick the projects that align with their passion and skillset, enabling them to control their own journey and consistently deliver their best work. In the Upwork and Freelancers Union survey, 51 percent of freelancers said no amount of money would entice them to go back to a traditional job.
Employers Meet Their Objectives
Running a successful meetings and events team is often a matter of managing the ebbs and flows. Independent contractors allow corporations to keep their core business agile and bring in extra resources as needed. The advantage, then, becomes having the personnel available to enhance the strategy and experience around any given event while keeping cost control in mind. Rather than simply completing tasks and meeting deadlines, you’re envisioning and pursuing measurable success.
Are you a freelancer looking for work or an employer looking for talent in the meetings and events industry? Let Soundings Connect help. We believe in the currency of connection and the importance of creating an ecosystem that allows all sides of the gig economy to thrive. Learn more about our mission and purpose here.
Tracy Judge, MS, CMP
Founder & Chief Connector