Companies are looking for increasing flexibility in their staffing plans as revenue cycles are subject to greater volatility. As a result, the demand for temporary staffing is on the rise. Companies are building flexible plans to acquire talent by employing contract workers, freelancers, contingent workers and so on. Recent studies have shown that 150 million people are freelancing or delivering their individual gigs in North America and Western Europe. That is a substantial number!
What drives this economy?
Many millennials and some experienced professionals are making a conscious choice to walk a new path. They want to be their own boss, get rid of monotony, live on their own terms and follow their passion. These people are legal professionals, coaches, trainers, artistes, teachers, designers, architects, marketers, secretarial and admin assistants and similar such professionals. They are experts in their field of work, want to explore new dimensions of their expertise by doing different assignments.
Sure enough, such gig-work creates uncertainty in their incomes. Sometimes, their work schedules get erratic and they have to put up with those. However, they find the benefits such as independence, liberty and discovering the unexplored are bigger than risk of inconsistent income.
At the same time, as global economy is growing and developing further, we find businesses shifting their workforce blend towards temporary jobs, fixed time work and freelancers. We will surely find increasing number of people willing to be gig workers.
How can an organization use gig workers?
In India, we have just 10% of our labour employed in the formal sector while a significant number is freelancing. There is a huge gig economy here. We find millions of workers in blue collar jobs working on daily wages or freelancers. We also find an increasing number of people in a range of specialised jobs such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, IT consultants and Finance managers working on fixed time basis for companies.
While the trend is there, our organizations are yet to get their workforce strategy right. We need to have clarity on the kind of work that will be carried out by an independent contractor, how such a person will be selected, what kind of remuneration has to be paid, how to protect the company’s proprietary information and so on. Similarly their workforce strategy needs to be clear about the kind of work to outsource, kind of work to be done by outsourced employees, methods of engaging and managing such employees.
Lack of a coherent strategy will result ad-hoc actions which are unlikely to be cost-efficient and delivering adequate value. Moreover, it could potentially compromise the long-term sustainability of the firm. It is critical that the workforce planning is done well, appropriate processes are used and the right partners are leveraged.
How could a professional deal with the realm of gig economy?
Gig workers are valued when they bring the right combination of capability and attitude to the table. While gig-working is interesting, offbeat and fashionable, the charm might die out soon if one is not ready for it. Sometimes, it could be depressing due to the lack of social anchors that a full-timer or contract worker experiences in an organization. Gig workers have to be ready to work independently in an isolated environment.
One needs to be clear about the inner calling and its connection with a larger purpose. This is the most crucial step in taking up gig-working. Else, one should get back to doing full-time work or contractual work in a routine job.
Once the decision is made, one has to build one’s portfolio and network to be a part of the eco-system. Since gig-working is still in its nascent stage, it is important to be active in the ecosystem to succeed.
You may also like to read: