How to Navigate Retail Recruitment in Today’s Gig Economy

Author: TASC Outsourcing
Jun 10, 2024

Recent statistics show that the GDP of the MENA region is valued approximately at 5 trillion dollars, with a steady growth rate of 3.2%. 

The driving forces behind this economic momentum are the Millennials and Gen Zs, who are leading innovation and entrepreneurship, in the Middle East and globally.

Given their value for independent work and work-life balance, we can see why young individuals are actively expressing interest in carving out professional paths, either part-time or full-time, as “freelancers.”

And this is the gig economy – a dynamic powerhouse that growing businesses can and should leverage. 


Because a whopping 24% of the global workforce are gig workers already!

This number is on the rise in 2024, and it's not hard to see why. 

Gig work offers flexibility and lots of opportunities, and with more companies allowing remote and hybrid work, gig jobs are becoming even more popular.

Thanks to specialized recruitment agencies, digital platforms, and marketplaces, gig workers now have unprecedented access to clients or customers seeking their specific services. 

The result? A marketplace teeming with options, making it easier than ever for gig workers to connect with potential employers.

Why Retail Businesses Should Hire Gig Workers?

In the aftermath of the gig economy's rise, industries like retail are grappling with the challenge of swiftly filling and retaining positions in stores. 

However, it isn't all that gloomy. 

If retailers have learnt anything since the COVID-19 outbreak, it is to be resilient – by ditching outdated strategies for innovative ones that let them adapt to changing times.

While calling the first quarter to a wrap, many retailers are taking a cautious approach to hiring this year. Despite being more conservative, they are still looking out for ways to meet labour needs without burdening their P&L. 

And the gig economy can offer a lending hand in more ways than one. Let’s take a quick look – 

Why Retail Businesses Should Hire Gig Workers?

Cost Control Measures

With staffing struggles persisting and cost-saving measures topping the agenda, many retailers are diving into the gig economy to address both issues. By tapping into on-demand gig workers, retailers can bypass the time, resources, and high overhead associated with traditional employment, including recruitment, onboarding, benefits, and turnover costs.

Workforce Optimization

Replacing more than half of their store staff annually poses a recurring challenge for retailers. As budgets tighten, maintaining the right number of staff at the right time becomes crucial. The gig economy allows retailers to optimize their workforce by aligning supply with demand. Whether it's supplementing staff, handling spikes in seasonal demand, or addressing sudden labour gaps, it’s possible to leverage motivated gig workers to keep operations running smoothly.

The Need for Flexibility

Retail, uniquely, sees flexibility as the top reason someone might leave their job. With the gig economy on expansion mode since the pandemic, businesses are recognizing the value people place on flexible work. By tapping into this growing pool of talent, retailers can establish a flexible internal talent marketplace to meet labour needs promptly while providing workers the flexibility they desire.

Gig workers are set to play an increasingly vital role in the retail workforce. With more professionals in the MENA region open to part-time and full-time freelancing opportunities, employers are readily investing in hiring them as a cost-effective way of working with limited talent and tight deadlines. 

What are the Challenges in Engaging Gig Workers?

While tapping into the gig economy does offer multiple benefits, it’s not all smooth sailing. Let's take a closer look at the challenges businesses can face in attracting gig workers and some practical solutions.

Need for a Stronger Employer Brand

A strong employer brand is key to attracting talent, whether for full-time roles or gig positions. Companies with outdated recruitment marketing strategies may struggle to stay competitive. However, retail brands can remedy this situation by implementing social recruitment in their recruitment. 

Difficulty to Establish Meaningful Relationships

Gig workers often feel disconnected once a project or contract ends, which can lead some to terminate agreements prematurely. The disengagement is understandable, given that they're not always treated on par with full-time employees. However, businesses can try to bridge this gap by involving freelancers in brainstorming sessions, keeping communication channels open, and reaching out personally to ensure they don't feel isolated.

Problems with Balancing Gig & Regular Employees

Managing gig workers can be tricky without proper policies and processes in place. Recruiters often falter in three key areas:

  • Figuring out how to properly categorise gig workers
  • Making sure the quality of hiring is consistent, which usually tends to be a hit-or-miss
  • Not having the right setup to keep an eye on freelancers effectively

Retailers can deal with this challenge by assigning a dedicated individual to track and monitor gig workers. Additionally, partnering with third-party managed service providers and recruitment process outsourcing agencies can also help prevent intentional misclassification of employees.


How to Attract and Onboard Top-notch Gig Workers?

Streamline the Hiring Process 

While interviews and assessments have their place, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the details. A quick look at a gigger's portfolio can often give you a solid understanding of their skills. Since gig workers aren't clocking in full-time, there's no need for exhaustive evaluations. Keep your talent engagement and sourcing strategies aligned with the swift nature of gig work.


Embrace Social Recruitment 

Social media is the go-to spot for gig workers scouting opportunities, with platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook taking the lead. So, you must actively share content on your social channels, respond promptly, and provide valuable insights to freelancers. Utilize social networking sites to learn about a candidate's professional journey. Ensure your company's online presence reflects your brand on the right platforms.


Foster Autonomy 

Gig workers are often juggling studies or side hustles, so they crave flexibility in project requirements. While autonomy is great, set clear project deadlines to avoid delays. Although freelancers aren't bound by fixed working hours, deadlines keep expectations in check.


Invest in Training 

Even though gig workers operate differently, investing in their training is crucial. While full-time employees undergo training to handle long-term challenges, hiring gig workers is an investment in itself. Organize training sessions for all workers, including interns and freelancers. Upskilling gig workers benefits both them and the company, ensuring better output and tapping into their full potential. 


The Future of Work Is All About Flexibility!

A 2020 survey revealed that the gig economy generated around $204 billion globally. 

In 2022, Arab News mentioned that about 70% of MENA businesses were planning on hiring freelancers, and close to 78% of workers planned on actively working on part-time projects. 

As the gig economy and remote workforce continue to shape retail and other major industries, one thing is crystal clear – the future of work is going to be flexible. 

Individuals now have the freedom to tailor their careers to match their unique skills and lifestyles. At the same time, companies can tap into a global talent pool without being confined by geographical limitations.

The gig economy is not a fleeting trend – it’s here to stay. Brands that navigate this shift adeptly will discover abundant opportunities in this brave new world of work.