Indian businesses yet to catch up with millennial work-trends, not equipped to manage flexible workforce

Updated: January 12, 2019 10:45 AM

A 2018 study by PayPal revealed that one in four freelancers are from India and according to other industry reports, the gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $20-30 billion by 2025.

Are Indian businesses equipped to manage a flexible workforce?

Chaitanya Peddi

A 2018 study by PayPal revealed that one in four freelancers are from India and according to other industry reports, the gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $20-30 billion by 2025. With rapid transformations in technology, there is now an increased focus on skills and delivery as opposed simple employment contracts. The trend of project-based or freelance employee arrangements was initially limited to start-ups and SMEs but is now gaining momentum even among larger enterprises and consulting companies both in India and across the globe.

While a lot being said about how millennials are redefining the traditional norms of job stability and financial security, organizations are yet to equip themselves with the structures and policies required to make the most out of this trend. Like with most transformations, technology will pay a key role in enabling organizations to adapt and become future ready.

Below are a few initiatives all organizations can implement to initiate this change and help them attract and retain the best talent in this rapidly evolving landscape:

A system of continuous feedback: Since 61% of India’s freelancers work on a project for 1 to 3 months, they do not qualify for the half-yearly or annual appraisals. Hence, it is critical to give them feedback via continuous feedback mechanisms. This ensures that feedback is shared in a timely manner which helps the employee feel engaged and efficient on the job.

Make performance reviews the new resumes: Imagine a scenario where a team of independent consultants have been set up to formulate a regional expansion plan. Capturing their performance and having their strengths and weakness will not only save the effort and cost of going through re-identification when the need arises again but also will ensure learnings from the previous assignment are passed on. Another scenario where this is beneficial would be when a freelancer is being re-engaged by the same organization for a different project, the team leader can access the employee’s performance history to understand their strengths and channel them to deliver the best results. The team lead can also formulate a development plan through the assignment to help the employee improve, thus making value addition a two-way journey. Having a robust HRMS system also helps capture the performance data and build a reliable candidate repository.

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Data Security & Authentication: The 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey highlights that 29% of respondents believe their organizations track the freelance ecosystem worker’s compliance. It is imperative to ensure that HR teams work with legal and IT to set-up secure communication channels and safeguard company data. There is also a need for regulatory checks to ensure all employees are complying with company policies. Having a new-age HRMS which can accommodate the non-traditional workforce can address most of these issues.

Need for a change in mindset: When freelancers with a specific skill set come on board, it is important to ensure the rest of the team is cognizant of their experience and makes them feel involved in the project. Leadership also needs to help find a middle ground if there are different workstyles to prevent conflict from arising.

Processes and policies for the flexible workforce: Despite the anticipated growth in the gig economy, only 16% organizations worldwide have an established set of policies and practices to effectively manage different types of workers according to the 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report. This enormous gap in capabilities right from hiring to employee management needs to be addressed and aligned to the company’s overall strategy. It is critical to have all processes enabled digitally for remote or virtual employees. Having a structured payroll process, health insurance benefits, rewards, and recognitions might also help position your organization as an employer of choice.

(Author is Co-founder of Darwinbox)

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