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The ebb and flow of the gig economy

By 27 August 2018No Comments

There is no doubt that you’ve heard of the ‘gig economy’ – it has plenty of different names, so perhaps you’ve heard of the ‘sharing economy’, ‘collaborative economy’, ‘on-demand workers’ or ‘contingent work’. If you’ve ever ordered an Uber or had Deliveroo come knocking on your door, you’ve even been a part of the gig economy. The fact of the matter is that the gig economy is on the rise and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, with more workers than ever before opting to take this flexible approach to work.


What is the gig economy?


Put simply, the gig economy is occurring because a significant number of workers are choosing to accept short term jobs and contracts rather than permanent positions. Each individual piece of work is referred to as a gig – hence the ‘gig economy’.


More and more workers are leaning towards being contractors in this new economy. An annual report from Upwork and the Freelancers Union in the US found that 47% of their millennial respondents were freelancers, a huge statistic. Is it any wonder that more and more workers are taking the freelance route? They have control over who they work for, when they work and they never get stuck working for an employer they don’t love for the long-term. In addition to all that, the same report found that 63% of their respondents felt that having income from multiple sources was more secure than having one employer.


The perks aren’t just for the workers …


Businesses all over the world also have a vested interest in hiring employees who are freelancers:


  • Operating costs are a little less because the obligation to pay freelancers sick leave and annual leave are eliminated.
  • You are no longer confined to your local area – great workers can freelance from anywhere with the power of the latest technology. There’s no need for your workers to all be in the same office, with tech it’s possible to connect even more efficiently, even when you are not nearby. This also lessens the amount of office space you will need – reducing costs even more.
  • If you find that your business goes through seasonal spikes, it might not be feasible to keep employees on year in, year out. The gig economy allows you to hire who you want, when you want.
  • Finding employees to fill temporary roles is a lot easier than looking for permanent employees the traditional way. Websites like Sidekicker are making it easier to have direct access to top talent, quickly.
  • Freelancers are ready to go – they are qualified and are familiar with a range of different systems so training time will be limited.
  • Are you a mobile trader? It can be difficult to find employees as you move around the country, but having access to a pool of candidates prepared to work a short stint with you means that you get the best people, no matter how briefly you need them.


It still needs improvement


The idea of short-term employment is not new but the sheer size of this gig economy is something that the workforce has not seen before. As a result, there are plenty of workers falling through the cracks and the systems to protect both freelancers and those who hire them haven’t been perfected yet.


There needs to be an effort to use HR technology to easily find work that needs attention from freelancers while also easily finding freelancers with the skills to do that work.


At the same time, there needs to be a huge push from employers to create great working environments for freelancers and contractors. At the moment, freelancers are most worried about making sure their clients actually pay, they’re concerned about their benefits when retirement rolls around and they’re always looking to have their voice heard when it comes to sharing issues about their work. Any way that governments and employers can improve on those things will be a step in the right direction.


The gig economy is here to stay, so if you’re ready to make sure your freelancers get paid on time and love working for you, no matter how brief the gig may be, Pendragon can help you with your salary management. Get in touch today on 02 9407 8700.

Purnima Kabra