• Sibel Dağdeviren Özüağ

Implications of GIG Economy on HR

Updated: May 31, 2019

It has been a long time since HR professionals started to revisit the traditional knowledge and processes based upon the demands and expectations of GenY and GenZ. Among the revisited practices, the way of working has been no exception. In this article, I will share insights on the rising star of the modern world: the GIG (freelance) way of working.

GIG: Let's Start with "Why?"

GIG (freelancing) is a trending way of working in which the individuals are not related with an employer and instead, are their own bosses. In the GIG economy, therefore, each individual could be regarded as a company.

GIG way of working features flexible and mobile working. Already a very big part of the current global workforce, the young generation has been revealed in many national and global studies to care very much about their work-life balance. In addition, we are also aware of the tremendous research findings demonstrating that the young generation care more about experience than compensation and benefits per sé.

Another finding which I believe is not as commonly known as the others is about wellbeing. The Global Youth Wellbeing Index 2017 has demonstrated that the young generation finds their lives very stressful. Carried out with participation of young professionals from 30 countries, the research reveals an average stress level of 49% on the global level. Hence, it is Iittle wonder why the young generation now turn towards the GIG way of working in which they can manage their work-life balance, handle their stress levels, and design the best experience that works for them.

One of the most significant enablers of the GIG economy is the technological advancements of our day. It is nowadays possible to work in any time zone and in anywhere thanks to the Internet and our mobile devices.

Are Corporate Companies at Risk?

The answer could be either yes or no depending on your definition of risk. There are a series of tangible actions that the corporate companies today need to take in order to retain their talents. Before moving on to these actions, I would like to share with you some alarming insights as to why we need to take the GIG economy in our agenda at our earliest convenience.

  • The Intuit & Emergent Research has demonstrated a global number of 3,9 million freelancers in 2017, and estimates this number to go beyond 9 million by 2021.

  • By 2027, the number of freelancers in the USA is expected to exceed for the first time the number of fulltime employees.

  • The USA and a number of EU countries have already started to sketch off new working models and discuss the legal structure for the GIG workers.

I believe the developing markets are still not sufficiently aware of the GIG trend approaching. The developing countries, on the contrary, have actually more appetite for the GIG economy and are more vulnerable for the upcoming GIG implications.

Unable to find any related GIG data in Turkey, I shared the below post and survey in March on my LinkedIn profile, and asked volunteer respondents to reflect on their plans/expectations with regards to how they would like to work.

Let's discover the findings of this survey:

  • 192 individuals have responded to the survey, and I thank them all for their valuable contribution.

  • 45.7% of the respondents are of 25-35 years old, 45.7% of them are 35-50 years old, and the rest is either 18-25 years old or over 50.

  • In return for the question "What does freelancing mean to you?", 73% of the respondents have replied "freedom" and 19% have used the word "comfort". These two most common expressions are followed by such positive words as flexibility, coziness, creativity, and income.

  • For the question "What is your current way of working and also your plans for the upcoming 5 to 10 years?", 62% of the respondents have shared that they prefer freelancing! On the other hand, those who wish to work for a company constitute 29% of all the respondents. Moreover, 9% of the respondents are currently employed by a company and take on freelance tasks at the same time, and they wish to continue this way.

What should HR Teams be Discussing?

The concept of "work" as we now know it is going through a transformation. As the strategical business partners, HR teams should sketch off their plans for the upcoming GIG surge.

Below are some set of questions for HR teams to initiate their GIG action plan. Should you wish to add more questions, please do not hesitate to share your comments below:

  1. Shall we revisit the alternative ways of working within our company?

  2. How many and which of our positions/roles are suitable for the GIG way of working?

  3. What should our EVP (employee value proposition) look like to retain the employees who are currently taking on unGIGgable tasks?

  4. Shall we revisit our competencies?

  5. What will our organization chart look like together with the GIG roles?

  6. How are we planning to find freelance talents?

  7. How can we become the most preferred customer for freelancers? (It is critical to notice that the companies today will be customers of the future GIG workers.)

  8. Do we have any employees in the company who are also freelancers? If we do have, how can we activate their know-how internally as well?

  9. How can we invest more in our corporate learning and development opportunities? (Studies reveal that employees wishing to work for a corporation do so because of the diverse corporate L&D opportunities.)

I strongly believe that it is high time for companies to take notice of the ever changing business dynamics and individual needs and expectations, and adapt their processes accordingly.

It is high time that employees are no more seen merely as performance providers but are respected with a holistic view caring about the mind, spirit, and body. It will be no surprise that companies with a human-friendly culture will always preserve their status as the top performers.