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How the Gig Economy Will Impact HR in 2020 and Beyond

As we enter a new decade, business leaders who do not have insights into trends related to self-employed workers will do so at their peril: More than 60% of work is now done by gig workers. The overall size of the gig workforce will only increase as more people seek self-employment—both out of necessity and by choice—and employers choose to hire more people who are off the balance sheet.

So even if your organization is not engaging a significant number of gig workers today, chances are good this will change in the near future. 

For employers, making decisions at “the speed of people” can be challenging–promotions, turnover, and other job changes don’t fall into neat quarterly cycles. And if that’s not hard enough, with the rise of gig work, it’s only going to get trickier. 

Not all your gig worker data is in your core HR systems, it’s constantly changing, messy info, no connection to business outcome data. If a significant portion of your workers are contingent, this makes it difficult to answer questions like–do we have the right/enough people to achieve our business goals? Is our high turnover rate a “bad” thing–or is it just a benign result from contracts ending as planned?

As we highlight in our HR Trends 2020 report, the proliferation of gig work platforms in the hourly space will intensify as the need to quickly fill short-term and seasonal roles increases. Clearly, over the next decade, more and more organizations will need–not just ways to fill these roles–but decision-making support tools that are geared towards the modern working world–which is a gig working world; strategic questions. 

Gig Work is Here to Stay: Implications for HR

The rise of gig work means the focus for HR will be finding tools to bring together the talent lifecycle across all the roles in your business (contingent and regular workers included) together with organizational effectiveness to understand and optimize structure and plan. Other implications for HR include:

  • The redefinition of roles. The staying power of the gig economy means it’s time to rethink how work gets done. Freelancers may not fit precisely into the whole job of a caregiver or retail sales associate, but the opportunities to find talent become clearer when you see work as a series of tasks that can be shared, rather than a single job completed by one person.
  • Evaluation of gig worker impact. Unlike traditional employees, systems that track a freelancer’s employee lifecycle are relatively new. In order to measure the impact these kinds of workers have on the business, it’s essential to connect this data to your other workforce systems, so you can spot issues, trends, and opportunities.
  • Updating traditional labor policies to incorporate freelancers. As gig work becomes more deeply rooted in hourly labor, HR will need to lead the charge in creating policies that provide proper benefits, rights, and protections to these workers.

Clearly, finding the optimal mix of regular employees and alternative workers will be a critical task for HR leaders over the next decade. Follow these tips to set your organization up for success:

  • Deconstruct jobs in your organization.
    • To see where you can tap freelance platforms to alleviate work shortages, start by deconstructing the job into its tasks, advises Dr. John Boudreau, professor and research director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations.
    • This exercise will lead you to re-evaluate not just the nature of that job and the kind of talent needed to accomplish it, but the different types of arrangements—including contracts, gigs, alliances, volunteers, automation, etc—that can be used to create a more fulfilling career path for all involved.
  • Build in measurement systems to better analyze gig work.
    • When gig work data is combined with multi-dimensional analysis that combines information from several systems, you gain powerful and actionable answers that will help you design the best programs for all your employees—and make a better impact on business goals.
    • Look for robust analytics platforms have insight and value paths for contingent labor analysis, hourly, seasonal workers, contractors, etc. and connection points to business outcomes to understand impact. They can bring together the talent lifecycle across all the roles in your business, together with organizational effectiveness to understand and optimize structure and plan. 
  • Pilot a test program. 
    • If you’re ready to try incorporating gig work into your labor force, it’s important to conduct your due diligence. Once you know the scope of your test project, involve your partners in Legal, Compliance, IT, and Finance to find out what infrastructure and policies should be in place for gig workers to come in and accomplish the necessary tasks.

This topic appeared as “Trend #8: Gig Work Transforms Hourly Work” in our HR Trends 2020 report. Download the full guide to get more tips related to this trend and learn about 9 other trends that will impact HR and work over the next decade.

Author Photo
Nic Smith |
Nic leads product marketing at Visier, a software maker of purpose-built business analytics designed for people. Nic brings nearly 20 years of experience in enterprise software with a proven track record of consistently achieving high growth targets. Nic has a unique blend of experience in a variety of marketing and product roles at companies such as SAP, Microsoft, BusinessObjects, and Crystal Decisions. Nic has a proven record of leading highly effective teams and award-winning initiatives that excite and engage audiences. A former collegiate athlete, Nic is a strong advocate for youth athletics in the community. Nic is driven to make an impact professionally and personally, supporting an annual charity bike ride to conquer Cystic Fibrosis.