Coming from Los Angeles, I knew people who taught barre for a couple of hours in the morning, then hiked Runyon by 11 AM, went to an audition, then drinks with friends while I was stuck in the office staring at their Instagram and their freedom.
Ryan Gosling famously (and controversially) commented that nobody works in LA. That is an over-generalization, of course, as most people do have jobs and are hardworking. There are also those called “gigsters” who freelance, contract, advise, or take gigs; they are not limited to Los Angeles and in fact, makeup over 150 million workers in the US and in Europe. These workers make up the growing gig economy. Intuit estimates the gig economy to make up 34% of the workforce and is expected to grow up to 43% by 2020.
What Gigsters Bring
In agile organizations where customer-satisfaction, innovation, efficiency and an autonomous workforce are present, the gig economy has gained momentum. Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood refer to those in the gig economy as agile talent. According to them, agile talent is here to stay as organizational leaders are increasingly turning to external experts to provide the speed, flexibility and innovation needed in a cost-effective way. The gig economy contributes to agility because:
- These workers you get to hire for a gig are already experts in their field.
- They can be brought on at any time and contribute meaningfully to the project.
- Gigsters bring innovation and creativity because they have the benefit of choosing the jobs they accept rather than having to do something because it is their job.
- They are not bogged down by internal politics or coworker drama, they are there to get the job done.
What is Swift Trust?
Economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard and Alan Krueger at Princeton called the ability to put aside the traditional aspects of organizational trust building as “swift trust”. Let’s take Hollywood for example. The industry that brings together mostly, if not all, gigsters in a short period of time to produce entertaining movies or TV shows. It’s successful in doing so because this agile talent is able to put aside long-term organizational considerations and just start doing the work. Swift trust works in enterprises where there is little use for formal rigid procedures and leaders are able to staff towards their objectives in real-time and can do so with agility. Organizations that are agile have open communication, a culture of feedback, and collaboration. These elements are why the gig economy work best with agile teams.
Impacts of the Gig Economy
The gig economy benefits employers by providing flexibility to try new markets without the overhead of new employees. Hiring field experts allow enterprises to test out the new location or new products with fluidity. In most cases, gigsters are directly involved in the company’s successes because their expertise filled the talent gap. Smaller companies can now compete with larger enterprises due to the availability of gig economy workers, most of whom are accessible through apps like SpareHire, HelloTech, Fiverr and Freelancer.
For consumers, the gig economy is present in our everyday lives. You need a car, you get Uber or Lyft. You need a place to stay on your trip, there’s Airbnb. You want groceries delivered to your home, then use your Instacart app. You’re hungry, then DoorDash or Postmates are options. You need a babysitter, there’s Care. You need someone to mount your TV, there’s Handy. On-demand apps jobs are a result of the abundance of gig economy workers who prefer the freedom and non-traditional aspects of working.
With the flourish of the gig economy, the human touch points play an even more important part of the company’s success with its talent, as well. Just like with traditional employees, gigsters pay attention to their experience in your company. Dr. Rena Rasch analyzed that gigsters are more engaged, satisfied and innovative than regular employees. On the other hand, they’re also less committed, less likely to share information freely and to resolve conflict. Agile HR experts, as change agents and architects of employee engagement, can overcome the commitment and engagement issue if they extend engagement practices to their gigsters. Agile talent will commit to the company’s mission and purpose as well as it’s strategic goals if they feel attuned to them. Workers in the gig economy have a choice in the jobs they take on; they are self-starters who follow through on the completion of a project. Gig workers value trust, transparency, autonomy, diversity and recognition, similar to your regular employees. Their rewards, growth and leadership models need to work within a network, rather than a hierarchy. In order to keep them engaged, the organization must also provide them with a welcoming onboarding experience and value them as fellow collaborators and subject matter experts just like you would a traditional employee.
There’s no denying the gig economy is here to stay. Contact Peoplescape Consulting and find out how we can help you adapt to stay competitive.