Gig workers are becoming more important for organizations in 2021 as they support a broad spectrum of company needs, requiring HR to adjust how they run their organizations.
Digital transformation has changed the nature of work and contributed to the rapid growth of the gig economy. The gig economy first formed around specific roles including musicians, writers, and truck drivers, and became more popular during the financial crisis beginning in 2008. We have seen it grow globally through the creation of knowledge and service-based gigs.
Now in 2021, the term gig worker is broadly used and runs a full spectrum of pay scales. It encompasses people who are moonlight drivers, freelancers for projects in large organizations, and traveling executives sharing expertise. The foundation of gig economy data is robust, but it is difficult to say what percentage of the global workforce today represents gig workers. Measuring the size is a challenge due to a variety of definitions of what constitutes gig work and different legal definitions of workers across the world. Suffice it to say the gig economy is not an isolated trend as its acceleration and growth is clearly linked to digital technology and changes in the global economy—brought on by companies who need to adjust the size of their workforce quickly to meet the needs of a fast-changing market.
In robust conversations I am having with other human resource leaders, they express the want to deepen their understanding of how the world of work and the gig economy will continue to evolve post-pandemic while seeking answers to vital questions on how to move forward with the gig economy.
As human resource professionals, we have a strong desire to simplify the gig economy concepts for our companies and lead discussions to explore how it can serve both job seekers and organizations.
A key driver of the changes also includes an increasing number of workers who have or who are planning to walk away from rising through the ranks. Instead, they are looking for opportunities to set their own schedules, work independently, and even choose their assignments. Turning to contingent work is often directly related to a desire for work-life balance and economic necessities and these career decisions are also being accelerated by digital transformation and the global pandemic.
As human resource teams explore the types of gig workers in the marketplace and the skills they bring, they must familiarize themselves with the venues of digital marketplaces.
Many modern platforms offer a rich set of features for freelancers of professional-level services, including assignments offered by fully vetted clients with secure online payments.
Another driver of change in the gig economy that human resource professionals want to understand is the legal ramifications. As changes continue to unfold into the future, policymakers around the world will help answer the questions on how project-based workers are treated under the law. There is also guidance needed in the application of minimum wage laws, worker classification, and how benefits are made available. Canada and Germany, for example, are two countries that currently have dependent contractor categories that provide protections to workers who fall between employee and independent contractor.
Digital technology and the gig economy continue to unfold and are driving the growth of alternative working models along with expanded employment relationships. Now there are opportunities to create viable alternatives for people to choose career paths and embrace new ways to work by having the right policies in place. Human resource leaders have a role in supporting the creation of a framework that allows all stakeholders including workers to enjoy the economic benefits.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annette Wellinghoff joined Oracle as VP HCM Transformation & Thought Leadership Practice in 2015. Since joining the company Annette has had a significant impact on shaping HCM transformation strategy on the East coast. She works closely with executives of our key customers as a trusted advisor and strategist. She is a resource to help customers identify strategy execution gaps and position critical enterprise and HCM performance issues to facilitate transformation.