Gig workers are on the rise in India largely due to widening global skill gap and talent crunch, rapid advent of technology and high-speed internet. As per various reports, 1 in 4 global gig workers hail from India with Delhi and Bengaluru alone accounting for about 800,00 gig workers.
Reports estimate 56% of new jobs generated in India are gig work like app-based blue-collar work and contract work (ride-hailing services, food delivery services, online shopping logistics services, etc.) and freelancers and independent consultants in high-end, white-collar jobs. The rise in blue collar gig workers can be mainly attributed to the rampant urbanization and digital transformation of India’s economy.
Gig Economy is becoming integral to the Workplace in India
While Start-ups were among the first to adopt Gig work, there is a steady increase in white collar gig projects from large corporates and professional service providers today. The top 5 skills include Strategy, IT/ Technology, Marketing, Finance and HR. Companies prefer gig workers for rare, hard-to-find skillsets or for functions which have fewer full-time takers.
“The understanding of the gig economy is still evolving from the earlier contractor systems to high-end roles with higher tech skillsets. High technology and high skills industries are looking for skillsets beyond what is readily available in the labor market. With the rapid tech disruption that we are facing, there is great difficulty in finding talent to work on old/ obsolete/ legacy technology projects and people in the gig economy are making a killing out of the shortage. So, we have white-collar gig work in not just niche, high-end skills. In the future, the lines between the different forms of gig work will blur,” shares Raghavendra K.
As per Rohit Thakur “Gig workers will not overtake full-time employees in organizations owing to the risks involved with respect to IP, information and data security, as well as the risks of the business and economy. There will be an interesting mix that differs across levels of maturity of the business and the nature of the industry to maximize productivity.”
With the accelerated use of robots and automation in getting jobs done and a growing gig workforce, the world of work is undergoing a paradigm shift. This highlights the need for HR to define strategies for working with people, robots and technology and creating checks and balances. As Salil Sethi points out, “We are still coping with technological disruptions and navigating these waters. The gig economy is like an iceberg and we see only the top but not the issues and challenges at the bottom.”
Figuring out how to leverage the gig economy for better business outcomes
Understand gig workers better
Money, independence, choice and work-life balance are all factors that are important to gig workers, a Harvard Business Review Study on gig workers throws light on 4 factors that enable them to thrive :
Place: Gig workers believe that they work best when they a space and an environment to work freely, at their own pace and choice.
Routines: A widely held misconception is that gig workers loathe routines. However, like gymnasts and trapeze artists, they can explore new things/ avenues only if they perfect routines.
Purpose: Gig workers do not work with only money or freedom in mind; they want their work to speak for itself and aim to provide client satisfaction and create greater value for them.
People: Humans are social creatures and most gig workers understand that social isolation and loneliness epidemic will affect them immensely and strive to avoid it.
An in-depth understanding of these and other factors that impact the productivity of gig workers is key to effectively manage Gig Workers.
Mitigating risk and Hiring right
There are risks involved in hiring gig workers such as conflict of interest, IP and skill. Gig workers need to invest in basic infrastructure and self-train to stay updated. HR needs to develop guidelines on hiring the right gig talent and go beyond only considering basis cost. Contracts and reference checks are a must for gig workers.
Building an enabling culture and environment
Gig workers also need a seamless experience at work in order to have a sense of ownership and be accountable for the outcomes rather than handling your work as a project they do and move on.
- Differentiate the gig worker from a regular contractor or consultant who comes in for specific work and moves on.
- Do not ignore quality onboarding. The entire opportunity of gig work will be lost.
- Clarity in compensation and benefits is a key. Gig workers do not get any of the benefits that permanent employees do but their hard-to-find skillsets must be valued higher.
- Create awareness among your employees about why the gig workers get paid more even though they work lesser hours. It is the key to be transparent even if they work remotely.
- Clearly enumerate the shared values and outcomes that they must deliver upon.
- Consider offering learning opportunities for them while they are working with you.
- An alumni management system is an excellent way to leverage gig workers; they might be required for changes, updates, follow ups and future work on the project.