Hiring in the gig economy — full of excitement and apprehensions

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Published: June 3, 2019 2:58:31 AM

The changes that organisations have begun to experience is creating excitement in some quarters and apprehension in others, emanating from the tremendous positive impact on the business on the one hand and yet the lack of experience and processes required to manage the new mix of workforce on the other.

Gig economy, corporate India, independent contractors, freelancers, full time workers, gig

In the digital era, managing the talent workforce will no longer be the same. There will be a sea change in the HR management function starting with the recruitment process to the entire lifecycle management of the resources—a phenomenon hitherto not experienced by HR managers as fundamentally the composition of the talent mix is going to change irreversibly.

The changes that organisations have begun to experience is creating excitement in some quarters and apprehension in others, emanating from the tremendous positive impact on the business on the one hand and yet the lack of experience and processes required to manage the new mix of workforce on the other. Let us take a look at the key changes that are taking place in the profiles of resource pools to appreciate the complexities with the transformation journey.

The first disrupter in the talent mix will be the gig economy workers who would be sizeable in number and would be coexisting with the regular and full-time employees. In reality, organisations have been employing part-time workers, freelancers and temporary or contractual workers for a very long time. In India, freelancing has been growing steadily and according to an industry estimate, India could have up to 20 million ‘freelancers’ accounting to $20-30 billion in market size by 2025.

So if freelancing as a concept has been in vogue for a very long time, what is unique about managing the gig economy workers?
The uniqueness about gig economy is that it is not restricted to a specific location, workers could be located anywhere in the world and their work can be delivered via the digital platform. Those in the IT and media sectors are used to taking on such part-time assignments but in many cases these jobs have not been their main source of earning, they have supplemented their regular jobs.

For HR professionals who recognise the importance of unique skills and availability of talent from far and wide that can address their business needs, their challenge lies in making it attractive for ghig economy workers to consider working from remote for such employers with the view to building a long-term relationship and be able to have attractive earnings.

Currently engagement with gig economy resources is more tactical than strategic. The overall strategy for talent acquisition has to be developed considering all categories of resources and recognise the valuable contributors across the board including the on-demand resources. Concepts such as succession planning, career development and learning environment would require to be redefined in the context of resources which are not only of different categories but have diverse aspirations and ambitions and are loosely connected with the organisation. Therefore the challenge would be to align the aspirations of these resources with the organisation’s mission and goals.

The other big disrupter in the talent mix is the non-human AI led resources which would be replacing certain roles performed by the human workers. HR managers would have a different mandate to provide for the resources—AI led and human led with the competencies to perform complimentary or different roles. Training and development of AI led bots and other tools would have to be strategised very differently from the current formats of L&D plans. The HR team itself will undergo changes—with the inbuilt capability to develop and manage digital and human mix in the talent pool.

Above all, the new-age HR function would be expected to have the ability to anticipate and onboard digital and human resources of various kinds as appropriate for the business and contribute towards business innovation by learning to innovate its talent mix on an ongoing basis.

(The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company)

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