The gig economy and the future of HR
The gig economy refers to an increased number of flexible/on-demand jobs in the market place. Uber and Deliveroo are two examples of companies working in the gig economy. The gig economy has been a hot topic amongst politicians, economists and social scientists alike as the implications of said economy are huge with data from EY stating that by 2020 1 in 5 US workers will be gig workers. People will be working more flexibly and less permanently, meaning they may have to develop multiple skills over a lifetime and politicians may have to work out ways to make sure this is sustainable. An often overlooked stakeholder in this equation is HR. The gig economy is and will be, proving troublesome for HR which is going to have to stray from traditional practices as to continue being successful.
A worker in a gig economy position is a big change-up from a worker in a traditional position. Digital developments mean that now sometimes HR is excluded entirely from the hiring process. HR becomes incredibly important in the visibility of gig workers and this is difficult when they are cut out of the hiring process. Everything from security to GDPR compliance requires HR to be heavily involved and for visibility to be paramount. Visibility is something companies need to remember in the gig economy.
As the gig economy develops we are already experiencing new rules and regulations and we can only expect this to proliferate. HR is going to have to keep up to date with this and manage any changes that affect the business whilst also remaining flexible to keep up with such a fast and ever-changing economy.
Furthermore, the management of said gig workers is very difficult. The very flexibility that has them in such high demand also makes it tough for integration with full-time workers as well as very hard to train and develop workers to maintain business expansion or facilitate pivots. Any changes or explanations needed to be given to a high number of gig workers is hard, and checking up on and managing the implementation of changes necessary is even harder. HR will need to overcome gig network issues and work on communication if they want to streamline business practices in the gig economy.
Is it possible this is the end as we know it of the permanent job? It’s hard to tell. But what we do know is this is a trend that isn’t stopping anytime soon and HR is going to need to evolve and disrupt to keep up with such a fast and flexible economy.