The gig economy has indefinitely changed the way we think about work. While temporary arrangements are not new, modern adaptations of it are beyond what we could have imagined a decade earlier – ride-sharing, minutes-long online tasks, one-off shifts and even running strangers’ errands are all ways that we earn money today.
How we got here
While it’s natural for the definition of work to evolve, it was tremendously helped along in this case by three things: technology, preference and legislation.
First, the gig economy is simply a by-product of this mobile world in which we live. The connectivity, convenience and speed afforded to us by our smart phones has transformed how we find work and make a living. Technology companies like Shiftgig have created robust, incredibly user-friendly apps that can put work at the fingertips – quite literally – of anyone with a smartphone. Today, that’s 75% of Baby Boomers, 88% of Generation X and 92% of Millennials, according to the Pew Research Center.
Speaking of Millennials, they, along with their successors, Generation Z, are changing the social contract between workers and employers. As professionals, they have different needs than the previous generations of workers, whose careers were marked by 9-to-5 schedules, rigid management hierarchies and long tenures. Millennials and Gen Z workers don’t just prefer flexibility, collaborative environments and training opportunities, they expect it.
And, of course, all of this is being further helped along by the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in many companies cutting their workers’ hours to keep healthcare costs down. But while legislation is partly responsible for the trend towards flexible work, it’s also the reason that it can be risky. While those who work on-demand gain so much – flexibility, choice, independence – they do so at the expense of insurance, benefits and stability.
How we can help
Today, those of us within this industry are coming together to propose and support a new association that will help create a safety net for independent workers. Two weeks ago, Carl Camden, CEO of Kelly Services, hosted a forum called “Advancing the Social Contract for Gig Economy Workers” that brought together almost 80 individuals, including vendors, consultants, policy experts, politicians and independent workers.
We were there, and we’re excited to get started. Shiftgig’s vision is simple – to provide financial opportunities for hourly workers. We believe that regardless of how a person chooses to participate in the workforce, they should have access to certain workers’ rights, including affordable insurance. The new association will work with the government to help create these types of opportunities and more.
You can join the conversation by bookmarking this page on Kelly Services’ website. They’ll be sharing information from the forum’s progress as well as new articles and research on the topic.
That same week, the Rockefeller Foundation hosted a roundtable brainstorm on “Innovation in Independent Work in the US.” Thoughtful ideation on worker benefits and skills progression and the role of private versus public sector were major topics of the roundtables. Approximately 50 thought leaders on the future of work from leading private and public organizations participated in this day-long event.
Shiftgig was honored to participate in both conversations on the future of work for the independent worker.