GIG Economy Welcome To The New Workforce

Happy New Year to everyone and a wonderful 2018 ahead! As we begin the year, I would like to touch on the topic of the “Gig Economy”. What is this all about and how will this take us by storm in 2018? In fact, the gig economy is not something new, as freelancers have been around for a long time. What is different today is the fact that technology has enabled many jobs to be done out of the office as a result of new tools and platforms. Gig workers can now perform their jobs in the comfort of their homes, on the road, and even when moving around the globe. Think about Uber, Grab, Deliveroo and Up-Work; examples of platforms that are enabling thousands to use their skills to work from home, run errands for others at their own time and target, drive passengers from one place to the next using their own vehicles, and even renting their homes to tourists visiting for a short stint of time.

Today in the US, there is a staggering number of 54 million gig workers!

As employers, human resource managers, business owners, how do we manage this new phenomenon? How do we embrace talents in different forms so as to harness the power of collective intelligence globally to deliver our or business objectives? Here are my 3 key thoughts:

Identify Niche Areas That Can Make Use Of Gig Workers
HFor a start, you can identify niche areas that can be filled by gig workers. According to UpWork, the top fastest growing skills are AI, rapid prototyping, immigration law, natural language processing, Asana work tracking, Instagram marketing, Twilio API development, Brand strategy, Application security, Angular JS development, Penetration testing, Application security, Accounting, Machine Learning and JIRA administration. These skills are in high demand as companies today need to innovate continuously and use Artificial Intelligence to drive their business strategies. Do start by looking at the core skills that are lacking in your company and develop an inventory of such skills that you can procure from online platforms. The wonderful thing about the sharing economy is that now gig workers and business owners can meet and transact with each other for a specific piece of work without the owners incurring a high cost to hire a full-timer. These sorts of expertise are now readily available to you with the “click of a button. A case in point: – Eden McCallum uses Freelance Consultants to Build Lean Project Teams for clients at a lower cost compared to traditional competitors. It achieves this economy because freelance teams do not carry the fixed costs of unstaffed time, expensive downtown real estate, recruitment, and training.

Develop A Workplace & Infrastructure That Can Embrace Talents In Different Forms
To embrace the gig economy, workplaces will now need flexibility in the way they hire and manage talents. You will have to ensure that you have the necessary policies and processes in place to embrace gig workers. This includes allowing flexibility in employment terms, working hours, as well as being creative in creating roles for them. Universities are excellent examples of workplaces that embrace a wide range of talents in different forms. We have full-timers, part-timers, adjunct appointments, gig workers, project associates, research partnerships, visiting professors, as well as visiting scientists with specific skills who are on a short-term stint to work on specific projects. Consulting firm PwC has creatively developed a marketplace for gig workers on its Talent Exchange platform. Launched in 2016, the platform is geared towards the firm’s consulting business, allowing PwC to staff projects using freelancers on an on-demand basis. It is projected that gig workers will eventually make up 10% of the firm’s US consulting workforce, which currently stands at 13,000.

When you hire gig workers or talents on an adjunct or project basis, be sure that you adhere to the local employment laws of your country for certain compulsory contributions and benefits that you need to cater for them.

Recruiting Gig Workers Through Strong Employer Branding
It is vital to build and maintain employer brands which reflect the continuing rise of non-permanent workforces. Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study found that the majority of full-time employees (77%) would consider working on a contingent or contract basis, while separate research from Oxford Economics revealed that 83% of leaders worldwide are increasingly using contingent, intermittent, seasonal or consultant employees. It is important to thus build an inclusive community that embraces employees from all walks of life and work arrangements. Gig workers will want to be involved in a company with a positive social atmosphere. At SUTD, we involve gig workers in important university announcements, recreational activities and even community outreach programs. When gig workers are engaged, the employer brand and alignment is reinforced, and a sense of shared mission helps the company become a more attractive employer to global talents.

The gig economy is here to stay! I hope the above article gives you an impetus to start thinking about how you can embrace the new talent climate to help propel your business or to the next level.

Feel free to leave your comments here for further discussions on this topic. Send me an InMail or email, if you prefer. Visit my LinkedIn profile page or website for more articles and insights.


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Dr. Jaclyn Lee

Dr. Jaclyn Lee, PhD and IHRP-MP