The Gig Economy – What is it?
The Gig economy is defined as “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs”. We’ve seen a phenomenal growth of the gig economy in the recent years across a variety of sectors and services. Organisations like Uber (transportation), Deliveroo (food delivery), and Airbnb (accommodation) come to mind. In Ireland, we have companies like MyTaxi (transportation), Buymie (on-demand grocery delivery) and Fleet (car rental).
Recent research done by the ESRI shows that there are around 200,000 Irish workers in temporary or other non-permanent employment arrangements.
- 162 million people in the U.S. and Europe work in the gig economy today, with 44% of them using gig work as a primary source of income
- 70% of gig workers do gig work by choice
- 68% of millennials say working remotely would greatly increase their interest in an employer
- 73% of contractors have higher education https://www.adeccogroup.com/power-of-work/flexible-working/ and are in their middle or late careers
- Professionals choose gig work for its freedom, control, flexibility, and work/life balance
What’s the Future of the Gig Economy?
Currently, 20%-30% of the working-age population in Europe and the US are already engaged in some form of independent work. It is also projected that over half of the US workforce will be engaged in some form of independent work over the next five years, with European trends following closely.
The gig economy is expected to grow even more when millennials become the largest generation in the workforce – over 72% of millennials want to be their own boss.
Even though gig workers enjoy the flexibility independent work gives them, recent research highlights issues with job security, low income and worker status as key problems identified by gig workers. Therefore, legislative and regulatory issues around gig workers are likely to become more pressing as growth continues.
How to compete with the gig economy?
The gig economy is competing for the same talent your organisation is. With so many talented people joining the gig economy, you have no choice but to respond. As an employer you need to realise that the gig economy is not just a new kind of work — it means that you are directly competing with other employers for the limited supply of available talent.
It seems that the solution could be offering workshifting.
The term workshifting was coined by former Citrix President Bret Cain, who sees it as “the idea of changing the physical boundaries around work, shifting your work for wherever you are and being able to do your work literally from anywhere.” It’s not simply about being able to work from home, but about “shifting your work patterns to wherever you happen to be”.
For the employees, it offers all the benefits of gig work with the security of full-time employment, namely the freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment they could previously only find in gig work. Employers gain skilled workforce, dedicated to their business, so it’s a win-win for all.
For employers, workshifting requires serious changes in workplace policies, culture, and procedures. However, many organisations are closer to workshifting than they realise.
According to Nation 10999, half of US jobs are already compatible with remote work, but only 7% of employers make flexible work available to most employees. Nation 1099 also cites the World Economic Forum’s finding that CEOs view “the changing nature of work” and “flexible work” as the top drivers of change in their industries.
To recruit talent away from the gig economy aside from workshifting you need skilled salespeople who will serve as guides to sceptical gig workers.
Recruiters have the skills necessary to market your company to best candidates, sell them on your roles and guide them through the recruitment process.