Why hire one full-time accountant when you can access thousands?
That’s a question worth pondering if you are skeptical about the gig economy and believe it won’t impact your firm and others like it.
The gig economy has redefined the 9-5 grind for all kinds of professionals, providing greater flexibility, freedom, and fulfillment. But what about the benefits for accounting firms like yours?
Think of the gig economy as a Netflix for accounting services, where you access a never-ending catalog of talent from around the world. Select the service you are delivering and find the right professional with a swipe of a finger. No long-term contracts. No commitments.
The gig economy provides you with a huge resource of people who can help deliver your services across specific skill sets, ranging from the obvious to the obscure. Need a tax accountant with an unparalleled knowledge of tax breaks for Inupiat Eskimos who whale-hunt off the Alaskan coast? You got it.
Then there are financial benefits to hiring financial freelancers—practically no onboarding costs, fewer infrastructure costs, and, in most US States, no benefit entitlement for gig workers.
Here are some reasons why you might consider a gig worker for your accounting firm’s next hire.
Gig workers remain independent of your practice so they don't require the same onboarding experience as employees. There's no need for formal induction programs or benefits enrollment. And no need to worry about PTO or prescription plans—a win for busy HR teams.
It’s important that you still fully integrate gig workers into your practice and teach your corporate culture and collective values, but you don't need to go overboard when you onboard.
On top of that, 26% of companies use gig workers to establish relationships with talent. So instead of going through the traditional and lengthy hiring process, only to be disappointed by a new employee’s performance, they initially assign work to freelancers, helping them to gauge whether they are a good fit as an employee.
There has been a skills shortage in the accounting industry for several years. For three years in a row, the accounting and finance sectors have struggled to hire top talent, with hundreds of thousands of positions left unfilled. And a Karbon survey revealed that finding great talent is the number one challenge for accounting firms globally.
The gig economy provides a possible solution.
Reduce in-house skill shortages by hiring professionals around the world, often at a cheaper cost.
Sometimes you require specific skills on an ad hoc basis, like additional skilled auditors to help you manage your substantial workload increase during tax season, for example. But this painstaking process involves resume-reading, interviewing, and onboarding during your busiest time. And once the deadlines have passed, that same workload isn’t there anymore.
The gig economy reinvents this, connecting you with freelancers who provide short-notice services for an indeterminable amount of time. 42% percent of companies that use gig workers say one of the greatest benefits is managing seasonal workloads.
Gig work reimagines the decades-old 9-5 drudge, letting you redesign task management. You can distribute tasks to different people on different shifts who work in different locations, often remotely. This diversification can help turn your practice into a globally capable brand that delivers accounting services on a 24-hour work cycle.
"Utilizing gig economy workers allows businesses to have a diverse pool of flexible workers at their disposal," says Western Governors University. “These workers often work different hours from normal business hours, so needing something done late at night or early in the morning is less difficult."
COVID-19 has exacerbated the need to redesign task management in accounting, with the bulk of employees now working from home.
Whilst the benefits of a remote workforce are clear—such as freeing up office space, improving productivity and enhancing work-life balance—post-pandemic, some at-work requirements will likely return.
But the gig economy enables you to extend your remote team quickly, and because freelancers are already equipped with the equipment they need to work, you'll enjoy a reduction in computer infrastructure costs.
There's a misconception the gig economy "steals" jobs from accounting employees, but this isn't the case.
"Ultimately, gig work exists because companies, workers, and customers all benefit from it," says the Harvard Business Review.
The gig economy isn't a threat to your practice but a gift, providing specialized financial services when and how you need them.
Incorporating gig workers into your remote workforce provides limitless opportunities for talent acquisition, task management, and cost-cutting, transforming your practice into a globally capable brand.
So rather than simply dismissing this 21st century way of working, consider it for what it is—a potential solution to some of your firm’s biggest challenges.