The Gig Economy

Photo by Timothée Pons on Unsplash

What is the gig economy?  In simple terms it is an economy where there is a large amount of short-term work or even freelance work.  Consultants in the IT world are familiar with this concept and it is becoming more prevalent throughout the economy.  According to the U.K. government 15% of Britons are self-employed.  Randstad Canda says that 20% – 30% of the workforce would be part of this gig economy.

How is it going to impact you?

Let’s take a closer look at what we mean by what is classified as workers in the gig economy.  Randstad classifies these workers as “contingent workers, freelancers, independent contractors and consultants”.  All those web sites that allow you to hire a painter / carpenter / maintenance man?  They are all part of the gig economy.  Those IT consultants?  Same thing.  Uber drivers?  Actually yes.  https://99designs.ca is a site that allows you to hire someone to do book covers, logos, and even t-shirts. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of sites that allow you to hire someone to do a job for you.  Short or long-term.

The gig economy is here.

If you’re running a business what does this mean?  Well, it means that you may not be able to hire a staff member that has the skills you want/need, but you’re able to hire a consultant or freelancer to do the same work. Recruitment is going to be even more important in the future.  But if you are looking for someone in a market for which there is a lot of demand?  You may not be able to find someone to do what you want, with the skill level that you are looking for.

It means that, in some markets, you may need to treat your staff better because there are a lot of opportunities out there.  If you get your staff annoyed they could leave and get as good, if not a better paying job somewhere else.  In other words, staff retention is key.  You need to treat your staff with respect, whether they are permanent staff, freelancers, contractors or consultants, you treat them with respect.

As more and more people work in the gig economy there will be significantly less loyalty to companies as everyone is just working the gig.  If you want loyalty, if you want to retain that knowledge capital that walks out the door after every gig worker leaves, you need to set yourself up as different.  You need to be special to attract the best.  Average just won’t do.  Average attracts average and special attracts everyone.

Failure to understand the growing nature of work is going to cause major issues for organizations (both public and private sector) in that the attitudes of the past need to be left in the past.  If you want to hire a freelancer to do two weeks worth of work, you need to be able to make that decision within hours, days at the most.  The current acquisition processes need to change to meet reality.

The world is changing.  Accept the change and thrive or ignore the change and become increasingly irrelevant.

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