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The gig economy is shaking up the workforce

Have you noticed that today’s workforce is taking back control of the hours they choose to work, how they get remunerated, and who they work for? There has been a massive shift from the usual “9 to 5” working day.

Freelancing, temping, consulting or earning some cash outside of the “normal” working hours are the building blocks of the gig economy. Which means we’re moving into a period that is quite interesting from a workplace transformation perspective.

Out with the old

Looking back, work has been very traditional. It’s been 40 hours of work, week in and week out since the 1920s when Henry Ford popularised it. For the previous generation, it was all about having a job for life – as soon as you completed high school or a tertiary qualification, straight into a job, achieve a long service awards and before you know it – retirement.

It was all about stability, security, certainty and knowing where your next pay cheque was coming from. However, things are changing very quickly.

For many employees, the skills that were critical two, three or five years ago are now out of date. Its official – people need to continue to retrain as jobs become more fractional. Over and above that, moving between job roles has become far more fluid as different disciplines combine. Goodbye long-service award, hello award-winning work on CVs before bowing out to the next project.

The agility of the gig economy

Having gained its popularity over the last five years, the gig economy is nothing new, but changing needs of employable individuals have turned consulting, temping and contracting into a viable alternative to full-time, permanent employment. Those employees with in-demand soft and hard skills – are looking for flexibility and variety. They are opting for various projects instead of seeking full time employment, in order to enjoy diversifying their skills.

So, where does this leave employers? Many larger and more traditional employers, such as big banks and mining organisations, have embraced agile, but they still struggle with how they can bring agile and the gig economy into their environment.

This isn’t only dependent on whether people will engage or not. It also comes down to the ability to find available resources. If resources are changing at a high velocity, then it’s going to be very difficult to find and attract, use and release these resources quickly.

Navigating the changing economy

The reality of it all is that businesses need to adapt. If you really value your employees, set them free. Your other option is to train your staff well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough that they don’t want to.

The upside of allowing someone shape the course of their careers and how they work is that you’ll be tapping into labour pools that have worked across different businesses, teams and product sets. They bring a wealth of experience and information with them. This is particularly important for Gen Z, because if they don’t get what they want out of their current job, they’ll go look for it somewhere else.

Ready to embrace the gig economy?

Businesses today know the gig economy is coming, but they don’t know how to respond to it yet. They know what they need to do, but they’re probably caught in the world of corporate governance and hierarchy. Whilst the gig economy may not be for everyone, it is certainly growing in size every day.
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