The 'Gig Economy'

The 'Gig Economy". Like it (or lump it), it's here to stay. Organizations that are thinking about how to get this 'gig thing' right will be the ones with their pick of the transient talent pool.

Firstly, what is this?

It comes down to old fashioned supply-demand economics. In short, it's a just-in-time workforce model - a job-market phenomenon wherein employers are staffing more so for 'valleys' than they are for 'peaks. Employers are shifting their favour to fulfil some aspects of work via an external labour market based on demand. This external resource pool is drawn upon - when and as needed. This has arguably been the model subscribed to by professional services firms for decades (at least those who've survived.)

What's the big deal?

This is a growing trend, with one study by SIA suggesting that as many as 44 million people (or 29% of the entire US workforce) performed contingent work in 2016, as companies look to maximize profits; minimize costs and generally ensure that they have access to the best and most suitable talent for the job.

Here's the challenge - often when organizations need the help, they need it NOW. Here's where it gets tricky. The gig worker, independent business or sole proprietor often has more than one organization he/she works for. This is how the gig worker will survive - and in fact flourish in this new economy.  The implications of this are somewhat obvious. When the potential client calls, the gig worker gets to decide whether they can or will take on the work. I'll favour clients who have easy systems to navigate; keep me 'warm' while I'm between gigs, offer me challenging and interesting work and generally treat me like a valuable member of an extended talent family.

I think it'll be important for organizations to get it right. Those that do will engage and inspire loyalty from just-in-time and project-based talent.
Simply, organizations that get ahead of this; and look at their practices around attracting, engaging and retaining gig workers as a critical piece of their talent strategies, will have their pick of the best and brightest.

My next blog will introduce some ways that organizations can stand out in this space.

Gig Economy Definition

I like the definition in Staffing Industry Analyst's Report, Measuring the Gig Economy: Inside the Paradigm of Contingent Work (which you can download here): 

"...the gig economy is one of several names used to describe the various forms of “gig”work. Definitions of the gig economy vary widely. The more narrow definition includes limited-duration work, often assignment-based and typically facilitated by an internet platform or app. More broadly, the gig economy includes any contingent work of a fixed duration such as temporary work and independent contracting. As such, the definition of the gig economy extends beyond online transactions, although the role of technology in the advancement of opportunities in the contingent work sphere is not insignificant.

In defining the gig economy as synonymous with contingent work, and with the talent that drives it, anyone working on a temporary basis across one or more various types of work arrangements is considered to be a gig or contingent worker.