Employer role in Gig Economy — A perspective
There are many factors which will impact the growth of gig economy. Technology, Millennials, workplace behavior changes, nature of emerging jobs etc are some of them but one of the main supporting factors will be how EMPLOYERS are looking at gig economy. This also brings in a role of HR and their manpower planning process to make the best use of gig economy.
The world around us is changing very fast. In the last ten years, our working behavior has changed drastically. We are now more social media savvy, most of us are on Linkedin, we share about us on Facebook, WhatsApp, snap chat. There is a heavy emphasis on technology in almost all the facets of work life and personal life. The focus on “gadgets” has made our work simpler but life has become more stressful due to loads of information moving around us.
But while the GenX may be struggling to cope up with changes happening around, a new breed, Millennials are making their way forward. They are defining new rules for the workforce. Instead of following what Mid-senior aged employees conventionally followed, they want to create a workplace, which is going to be as per their choice while keeping the focus on business goals.
Technology driving Behaviour:
The technology has made certain things easier, they have enabled social and collaborative platforms for businesses. They are changing some of the legacy enterprise platforms like CRM, Billing/Invoicing, time tracking, and payments into easy to use and cheaper for the masses to apply in daily work life. The social and geographical boundaries are fading away and making the world a real global village.
Millennial factor in Future of Work:
Millennials, the term indicates those people who were supposed to attain their adulthood in the early 21st century and later. There is so much of discussion about them. They are not aliens. However, there is a certain set of behaviour which is expected from this new generation professionals.
It is expected that by the year 2025, there will be 70% of the workforce who will be millennial. These are estimates are for US workforce but similar estimates can be predicted for India also. This new breed of the workforce will bring a new attitude about work, new expectations, very different workplace behavior and a set of values which may not be similar to Gen X & GenY professionals.
The expected behavior of Millennials will revolve around a new set of values, work methods & focus on the way to acquire education & skills. The reliance on University degree will be low, the practical aspect of the skills will be given more importance. Their ability to learn and teach others is going to be sharper. With increasing availability of social & collaborative platform enabled by technology will make their tasks easier.
The entire change in the behavior will become a BIG ENABLER for gig economy. Gig Economy provides the required Time flexibility, freedom to choose what you want to do, Challenges, Opportunities to experiment, global exposure and opportunities to learn always. This is what Millennials want to have in their life.
Challenges in Gig Economy:
But it is not all rosy in gig economy. While Millennials may like to have all the good features of gig economy but they need to sustain themselves. They need consistent income to meet their expenses and be at a similar economic level what their counterparts are in typical corporate full-time jobs. Another major issue, which may hurt millennial, is their focus on identifying skills, which will be in demand and their ability & willingness to acquire them.
Employer role in Gig Economy:
Are employers giving adequate compensation to gig professionals? This is not the case always. While some expertise are in high demand like Blockchain, Virtual reality, Augmented reality, Ethical Hacking, Cyber Security, Legal, Sales, Artificial Intelligence, Analytics etc are in high demand and companies are ready to give premium compensation for these skills but in reality, many jobs especially creative work, standard routine jobs, coding etc are not paid at the fair market value. Very often Gig professionals are seen as an alternative workforce to cut the cost, rather than to create greater value and leverage their workplace operations. This, in turn, results in low quality work output. Not only does seeing alternative workforce as a cost-cutting exercise potentially diminish the quality of works, it also makes these gig professionals discouraged as they feel underpaid and deprived of typical company benefits like health insurance, retirement benefits, and most importantly sustained compensation. But organizations cannot brush fair market compensation by saying that it is the choice is made by these gig professionals. They have equal responsibility of them to enjoy the benefits of this untapped potential talent to beat their competitors.
But these challenges will not be deterrent in the growth of the gig economy. The future of work is poised to support Millennials in the form of their best use for projects. HR managers have to create a distinction between contract jobs Vs Gig Jobs. There are plenty of places within a job cycle, where gigs are to be identified. This is not going to be a replacement of standard work, rather it will involve specialists approach to perform or deliver for a particular set of tasks with clear deliverables. So the way manpower planning is done need to change to support Millennials.
Manpower planning to harness the expertise of Gig Professionals:
Manpower planners need to get to real task/Job Analysis to identify which particular part of the job needs specific skills, which may or may not be delivered with standard employees. These sets of responsibilities will need the specialist to come for a defined time with clear deliverables. For example in Training & Development function, the internal HR function may be good in the identification of training needs and defining how to address them but they may be good in “Designing Training Interventions” so they may need a specialist and a specific gig can be shared with gig world.
Coming back to Millennials and gig economy, the technology will pay a very important role. With the automation and AI going to take over most of the mundane repetitive jobs, HR has to look for expertise than the role. They will advertise not for Head of Marketing position but they will say I need someone who can manage my digital reach out to customers, our brand, and support sales with market analytics. It may be possible to get one person to do the job but it may also be possible with multiple professionals. The future of work will be a mix of full time, part time and RIGHT TIME assignments. More and more managers will be specific in matching the skills or subset of skills to get the optimum performance on the job. This will suit the millennials and they will be happy to get involved. Their CV will show the expertise and tasks accomplished instead of the number of organizations and years of experience they have.
As a summary, I will conclude that gig may not the only way millennials are going to get engaged in the organization but it will be SIZABLE part in the manpower planning exercise of the companies. The behavior and expectations of millennials will support the nature of gig economy. The millennials also have to do a good amount of career planning in terms of continuous analysis of skills & expertise required so that they have an edge over others. Employers should also give fair market compensations to support the gig economy and focus on bringing efficiency in the operations rather than cost-cutting. Regulatory authorities will also come with the proper support system to take care of basics of HR benefits like health insurance, disability benefits, and old age support system.