Gig economy: Are we ready for the next big shift

Updated: May 20, 2019 1:37:18 AM

Gig economy—where companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time workers—is making stronger inroads into corporate India, with more and more firms adapting it to their needs, and making it an intrinsic part of their HR function.

Gig economy, corporate India, independent contractors, freelancers,  full time workers, gig workerComplete staffing plans are built around the assumption of gig workers filling specific roles.

By Sanjay Lakhotia

As another financial year begins, it’s time to rethink the impact of gig economy on corporate India. Gig economy—where companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time workers—is making stronger inroads into corporate India, with more and more firms adapting it to their needs, and making it an intrinsic part of their HR function. In fact, this is what our report ‘The Future of Work is Anywhere-Gig Workforce’ has revealed. There are three trends that will make the year a gig economy landmark.

The hunt for quality: While 2018 saw almost 70% firms confirming using a gig employee, the market is set to move to a new requirement—getting it right the first time. Firms have factored in the first flush of gig workers, and don’t have the cushion of making mistakes. Complete staffing plans are built around the assumption of gig workers filling specific roles. The earlier cushion of saving on hiring costs with a gig worker vis-a-vis a regular employee no longer holds. Firms have a reduced margin of error for hiring mistakes, so gig workers will need to raise their game.

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Short, sharp, valuable: Projects are becoming shorter as firms learn to calibrate expectations versus delivery ability. Also, remuneration is rising faster, as the cost of non-compliance for want of right employee, or hiring delays, helps firms develop a better appreciation of the value of the gig worker—who might find more value in working non-stop for, say, a 15-day period, followed by a week-long break, than following the corporate schedule of a five-day week for a month.

Small is beautiful: A recent event by an industry association for trade between Africa and India had a surprising thread running through it. Of the 400-plus African delegates from 35 countries, a large number were interviewing prospective candidates for jobs back in their home country. Guess what? A lot of these assignments were of a short-term nature, as hundreds of family-owned firms seek to professionalise running the firms. There is a similar shift in India’s small towns, opening up a whole new world the gig worker.

Experience is back: There has been a perception that the gig economy is more about younger strata of professionals who seek flexibility and learning. It was probably true when gig economy started taking off. With time, experienced professionals are moving in, attracted by an opportunity to ply their trade at multiple places with a strong key skill, besides speed and flexibility. With a smaller firm, experience counts for a lot more as the senior management appreciates the extra experience on board and its influence beyond the basic project. This opening for experienced talent, as we see it, is only going to grow and take a larger share of the market, going by the feedback we get from clients as well as the quality of people joining up.

The author is co-founder, Noble House Consulting

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