Gig Revolution: The Short-Term Way
The world has always been on the move; a place of constant progress where innovation and technology have known no bounds. Virtually every aspect of our lives has been impacted, thanks to technology grabbing the steering wheel and speeding ahead. Let's take a closer look at one such aspect: the gig market.
The gig economy comprises a labour market that relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions filled by independent contractors and freelancers, rather than full-time permanent employees. The employment is on a short-term and payment-by-task basis. It involves contract-based undertakings over a period of time, and there are no fixed terms.
For better understanding, let's assume that there are two college students: Payal and Sahil. Payal, in addition to pursuing her degree, is learning video editing skills through online resources and webinars. On the other hand, Sahil simply goes by his day in college, returns home, and waits to complete his degree before he starts any kind of work. Payal, after completing her online course, gets a client who needs a video editor for a mini-documentary, just a small gig. She grabs the opportunity, does the work, and earns a small amount. Here, Payal has become a part of the Gig Economy.
Is the Gig Economy a recent development or something that always existed in the market? Let's try to analyse the rise of this new way of working.
BUDDING BAY OF OPPORTUNITIES?
A recentreport published by NITI Aayog has revealed some insightful statistics about the growth prospects of this sector, stating that more and more companies are preferring to hire employees on a project basis and that 90-110 lakh additions to the gig workforce are expected by 2025. A report by the financial platform StrideOne revealed that gig workers in the start-up will make up about 4% of India’s total workforce by 2024. The report also states that in the long term, this sector has the potential to add over 9 crore jobs in the non-farm sectors of India.
The numbers are clear, the gig economy is quickly taking centre stage and is becoming one of the most important aspects of future employment and economics. Flexibility to work from anywhere, the rising demand for contractual employees, and changing work approach of the millennial generation are some of the reasons for the spike in the popularity of the gig economy. If that’s not it, the start-up frenzy created another boost for the gig system. Start-ups that can't afford to hire full-time employees have started turning to short-term contractual workers for non-core functions.
THE RISE OF THE GIG MARKET
So, folks, the facts and figures paint a clear picture. This sector could potentially skyrocket: witnessing exponential growth and an inflow of skilled workers. This not only impacts the traditional 9-5 workers but also the current economic aspects and employment outlook.
According to long-term projections, the gig economy's success could add up to 1.25% to the GDP of the country. It could also help reduce the income and unemployment disparities in India, as we move towards the goal of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025. A NITI Aayog Report states that an estimated 22% of gig work currently belongs to high-skilled professionals, like consultants and graphic designers, 47% falls under medium-skilled, and 31% under low-skilled jobs. Although blue-collar jobs currently form the better chunk of this sector, there is also a steady rise in white-collar opportunities.
This change in the job market has a profound impact on traditional business models, and it is pushing companies to re-evaluate their business strategies and operations. It also brings a shift to traditional workplace dynamics and relationships, in one way or the other.
Because of the transitory nature of gig work, a lot of times long-term work relationships, not only with co-workers but also with clients, might not be formed. Picture this, a client returning to an organisation because of the trust and familiarity that they have with an existing employee of the company. This is quite common traditionally, but if the same job is now given to a gig worker, this might not happen. Since they work on temporary contracts, gig workers mostly stick around with the company for the duration of the contract, until they eventually move on to the next gig. Moreover, despite such a high number of workers in this sector, they still have limited or no access to traditional employee protections and other formal sector perks like job security, paid leaves, employer-sponsored retirement benefits, etc.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are a whole host of benefits to hiring gig workers. Companies can skip the traditional cycles of hiring workers and spending on their training; they can simply hire gig workers, as and when they are needed, making the whole process much more cost-effective. Moreover, employers have access to a broader pool of workers to choose from, which makes finding the right person for the job quite easy. Additionally, such work allows individuals to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
Also, let's not forget that freelancers often work remotely, eliminating the need to travel because of work.
GIG-LING WORKERS OR DISMAY
It’s the time to buckle up since the gig economy is here and is on the rise. Companies will have to mould their operational strategies around this new way of working. The traditional 9-5 jobs will see the rise of contractual and short-term work. The avenues for contractual work will expand, more so digitally. However, at this stage, it still seems difficult to say whether the traditional approach to work will completely be overturned. After all, the job insecurity and mental pressure attached to the field of gig work could become reason enough for someone to keep their 9-5 job. There is no doubt that the gig economy will grow; the future looks bright, but then will it be a gig for a day or a salary for a month? Or will the pros of the gig economy far outweigh its cons?
Author: Kashish Rajput, Piyush Malik Illustration By: Hemanjot Singh