The Unique Potential of the Gig Economy Workforce

digital technology devices

As the mobile and Internet revolution continues to evolve and expand to all parts of society, there are diverse ways in which to work and communicate. Mobile workers are becoming more common. Part-time and even on-call daily workers are now available as well. This gives companies much more flexibility in how they structure their labor force, and employees have more lifestyles from which to choose. Certainly, the gig economy has taken off to empower this change and create many unique employment opportunities.

What is a Gig Worker?

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The simplest definition of a "gig" is a project or task.  It can be done repeatedly or on a one-off basis. Employees are free to start or stop whenever they choose, as long as they complete the very short-term task at hand.  They are paid for that task and may move-on afterwards. They have no long-term obligation to the company and vice versa. It means maximum flexibility in the employer-employee relationship. If companies do not like the work the employee has done, they do not have to rehire them.

The Innovative Ride-Sharing Industry

The ride sharing industry may be one of the biggest innovators in the gig economy. Led by Uber and Lyft (as well as smaller local competitors), these firms allow individuals to start and stop working whenever they feel like it. They simply jump in their car, turn on the app and start picking up customers. This is much different than the traditional taxi industry which runs on shifts, government licenses and designated cars. 

One-Time Task Hiring

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Task Rabbit is another website that lists thousands of different short-term gigs including dog-walking, dry cleaning, and food delivery or more professional tasks like website building and editing books. This site offers jobs that are more often on a one-time basis than a consistent "job" like taxi driving.

Virtual Gigs

There are also plenty of virtual gigs. Sites like Freelancer.com allow companies to post different tasks or jobs that they need completed. Individuals can build a profile of their background and offer their services in competition with other individuals. However, this often leads to a race to the bottom with many international workers in lower cost locations providing a cheaper price. If the work is unsatisfactory, the company can choose a different provider quickly without losing a huge investment of time or money.

The Potential Benefits of a Blended Workforce

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A blended team may consist of permanent full-time staff alongside part-time or temporary workers, contractors and freelancers. A major benefit is that this type of workforce promotes diversity and gives employers a multitude of flexible options.  Gig workers may even be responsible for the bulk of the day-to-day tasks and any special projects. It enables companies to hire as needed so that they can resolve problems and meet business demands quickly but without the associated permanent hiring costs.  Another bonus is that short-term hires can bring differing perspectives and specialized skill-sets to the table.

Did you know that, according to Intuit, a little over ¼ of all US workers are contingent employees? Is it time for your company to take advantage of these skilled workers?

The Cons of the Gig Economy

The key drawback for a gig economy worker is uncertainty and lack of benefits. These workers do not have a long-term contract or salary, so they cannot depend on a steady income stream.  They do not get paid for holidays or time-off. Rather, gig workers receive compensation only for the service they provide a company. In addition, they do not get health care benefits which are increasingly important to US workers. 

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Some people claim that gig economy workers don't earn enough; however, it is highly dependent on the job that is being done. Taxi drivers don't make a high income, so it is not surprising that Uber and Lyft drivers also make low revenue. On the other hand, gig workers providing software development, legal services and other high-value skills generally make more on an hourly basis than they would at a larger firm.

Brannon Professionals is a professional staffing and recruiting agency with 20 years’ experience serving the Memphis area. Our firm has helped many people obtain top talent for both short and long-term positions.

If you would be interested in partnering with us to help meet your direct hire and contractual staffing needs, please contact us at 662-349-9194 or 901-759-9622.