7 minute read 2 Oct 2019
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How the gig economy is disrupting traditional recruitment

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

7 minute read 2 Oct 2019
Related topics Workforce

Embracing the gig economy has helped EY teams to better manage its talent pool and transform contingent workforce sourcing.  

Finding the best way to meet short-term talent needs is as complex a challenge as the organizational structure to which it relates. A highly integrated organization in its own right, the EY organization put its approaches for sourcing the kind of time-bound, specific skills the organization requires into practice internally before working it through with others. The result is a process and platform that has reduced its time to recruit within EY’s complex organization from nearly three months to just seven days.

Time to recruit slashed from nearly three months to seven days


Multinational enterprises will have up to 30% of their workforces made up of contingent workers by 2023

More than one-third of the US working population is officially part of the gig economy1 and it is estimated that figure will grow to more than half in the next five years2.

It’s a staggering statistic. And one that is being echoed around the world: independent workers are the fastest-growing sector in the EU labor market3. Elsewhere, India’s contingent workforce numbers currently stand at around 15 million – some 40% of the world’s total4. Whichever way you look at it, the gig economy is not only here to stay – it’s gone mainstream. And the benefits are two-way, with employers increasingly seeing advantages such as higher productivity, staffing flexibility and lower overheads influencing their talent sourcing decisions.

Contingent workers will form between 20% and 30% of most large global companies’ workforces within the next three to five years.

EY: A case in point

The EY organization requires an extremely agile, on-demand workforce able to adapt swiftly and appropriately to respond to its clients’ needs. Access to a ready supply of contingent workers at short notice is an essential element of EY’s talent management strategy, which is why it has fully embraced the gig economy and what it offers.                                             

We're at a point in the talent marketplace that shows a clear parallel to Moore's Law: we have such an extensive rate of rapid change that the average shelf-life of any skill these days is about five years or less. In the agile environments for technology and project management, it’s closer to three years.

But until 18 months ago that came at a price, with spiraling recruitment costs and a relatively inflexible process inhibiting the firm’s ability to manage its contingent worker talent optimally.

Platform, process, people

Essentially a tech start-up in a multibillion-dollar global partnership, GigNow is EY's technology solution to help enable better contingent worker recruitment in the agile environment in which it operates.

We wanted to design and build a fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf global enterprise package that gave us access to high-quality talent, supported better decision making through powerful analytics and improved risk management. The research indicated that we needed to build the solution and integrate that with changes to EY processes and team – so this is not just clever technology. Every organization is so unique that, when it comes to people-related processes, off-the-shelf solutions will always mean compromise. That wasn’t what we wanted.
Carl Smith
EY GigNow Global Leader

As a result, the GigNow project team reviewed all of its business processes and protocols around contingent worker recruitment and the associated roles and responsibilities. It now manages all such recruitment through its talent team, while procurement still manages the relationships it has with third-party contractor suppliers.

Agile technology

GigNow is an open source, cloud-hosted platform that harnesses Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics and indexing to provide EY recruiters with the information they need to make better hiring decisions. It also makes the process of applying for a contractor role much quicker and easier. It’s agile too – the EY team releases new code regularly for new iterations based on user feedback.

In its first 18 months of operation, the new platform has provided significant benefits, including:

  • Reduced time to hire
  • Better contingent worker engagement
  • Improved risk management
  • Powerful analytics
  • Significant cost savings

Time to hire

Before launching GigNow, it was taking few months to fill contingent worker posts.

Since then, there has been a


Reduction in that time, with some vacancies being filled in less than 40 hours.

And we often have short-term cycle times to bring talent through the door, so we have to work faster to secure that talent because the top people we want to hire have multiple offers in front of them.
Geoff Dubiski
Managing Director, EY People Advisory Services


Staying close to a large talent pool and continually engaging with it is an essential element of any talent management strategy. “One of the aims of GigNow is to help us navigate the incredible relationships we have, keep close to the contingent workers we deal with and stay connected in a relationship management arrangement,” adds Dubiski.

EY teams made a conscious decision to dedicate resources to recruiters, who understand the contractor mindset and now have mechanisms and processes in place to maintain and develop strong relationships moving forward.

Risk management

There are risks associated with hiring contingent workers, including regulatory constraints, legal requirements and, internally, how far contingent workers are engaged with the company and whether or not they are the right fit for the organization. GigNow and the new processes EY teams introduced are helping it manage those risks.

“As an SEC-regulated global audit and accounting firm, there are hurdles we have to navigate that really increase our time to fill posts,” continues Dubiski. “Automation through GigNow has helped us navigate some of the complexities.”

Achieving contingent worker cultural fit is equally important, not only for the smooth running of projects but also to encourage the permanent workforce to accept them as members of the team.

“Much in the way EY recruiters source for skills and culture fit when hiring people in permanent role, EY GigNow recruiters are doing it for contractors. We're now not only finding people who have the skills that the tasks require but we’re also testing that culture fit element,” explains Smith.

“Culture is super important to the EY organization and it’s a two-way thing. So, we're also having more conversations with the hiring managers to help ensure they’re welcoming contractors on board in the right way.”


Another striking feature of GigNow is the powerful analytics built into the system, which provides recruiters with an incredible array of information about contingent workers on the platform, and allows them to make better hiring decisions. This is especially pertinent for EY’s sourcing requirements given the project-based, time-bound nature of the work it undertakes.

“All data in GigNow is index-driven, which allows for more predictable analytics and better decision-making, matching skills to need, performance and availability,” says Smith. “This allows our recruiters to be valued advisors to the business rather than just taking orders from hiring managers.”

Cost savings

One significant benefit is that GigNow allows EY teams to source talent directly rather than going through third parties, leading to substantial cost reductions.

“In the first full fiscal year, the EY organization realized millions of dollars in savings,” says Smith. “And in the first four months of this fiscal year, the scale of those savings is continuing to rise.”

GigNow also has the beneficial effect of automating some of the more repetitive, time-consuming recruitment team tasks, freeing recruitment professionals up to concentrate on what they do best.                               

Shared platform

Dubiski and the GigNow team were acutely aware EY clients also wanted to disrupt the way they source, test, match and engage with contractors.

“And honestly our story is something that resonates,” concludes Dubiski. “We are a living model of what has been done, so this isn't just someone giving them a vision of things to come – we’ve been through what EY clients are going through and we can help them navigate it.”

  • The gig picture: disrupting recruitment

    Finding the best way to meet short-term talent needs is as complex a challenge as the organizational structure to which it relates. A highly integrated organization in its own right, the EY organization put its approaches for sourcing the kind of time-bound, specific skills the organization requires into practice internally before working it through with others.


Contingent workers will from between 20% and 30% of most large global companies’ workforces within the next three to five years. Agile technology, such as EY’s GigNow, can help transform the way contingent workers are integrated into a global workforce.  

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

Related topics Workforce