Gig: The New World of Work

What is the gig economy and why is it important? The term has been floating around for a few years now, and next week is Staffing Industry Analysts’ second conference dedicated to the concept. We tell you why this concept is taking up so much mindshare — and not just in the media.

While one might think the term “gig economy” would be restricted to task-related work sourced online (that data you need to have entered or that recorded phone call you need to have transcribed), SIA believes that any work that is done by someone other than a traditional employee can be considered part of the gig economy. In other words, “contingent work” and “gig economy” are synonymous, and account for $792 billion in annual spend in 2015, according to SIA data.

Numbers aside, this way of thinking is significant because it lends itself to a new paradigm around work and how we get it done. A quick recap for both buyers and suppliers of contingent labor: In the early days, temp work was typically made up of lower-skilled roles with higher turnover rates than those roles that required more formalized training and experience. Then, distributed technology created the need for more skilled workers in temporary roles, and temporary work for the highly skilled was considered a means an end — usually as a path to attain a traditional, full-time role or a means to enhance one’s resume via new experiences. There are still those who take up a temp job as a way to come on board as an employee.

Today, workers have a number of engagement options available to them. According to SIA research, 44 million people took on gig work in 2015. The gig has become more of a lifestyle choice for the worker rather than an employer choice of an engagement model. With low unemployment and an aging population, tapping into the nontraditional worker populations and learning to manage both the work and fractional gig workers will be paramount.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Introduction to Online Staffing Enabling Technologies

Yesterday’s decision trees that provide limited options to source talent are no longer beneficial to the CW program. And creating a matrix that drives the engagement model may be counter-productive to getting work completed. This is why many of the newer online staffing platforms are seeing such growth — because they are enabling the project manager to distribute the work where it makes the most sense to get it completed, regardless of the way the worker is paid. So, CW programs can use these engagement options to get talent on board. However, managers must pay attention to the complex business model that will result and require a new set of governance principles to manage in a cost-effective manner.

The gig economy affects all parties to the world of work, talent suppliers and CW programs alike. Whether one is building talent pools through training, direct sourcing, or sourcing with partners like independent contractors, online staffing platforms, or outsourcing firms, building a management and governance strategy to minimize risk and maintain an efficient process is critical.

Our Collaboration in the Gig Economy event, taking place next week, is where it’s at. Come to learn more about optimizing the supply chain, network with peers in the ecosystem and find new ways of sourcing talent.

MORE: Getting the Most of CWS Summit Dallas

Kersten Buck

Kersten Buck
Kersten Buck is VP, global strategic solutions at Staffing Industry Analysts. She can be reached at kbuck (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Kersten Buck

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