New challenges of Gig Economy in 2020

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With the increasing acceptance and adoption of gig workers, there will be different challenges and trends that may be seen in 2020. The technological era has caused a major shift in the way we work. Online platforms, social networks, aggregators, has created more than ever demand to outsource, contracting, and freelancing. This means both, high demand and high competition amongst freelancers.

Initially this concept was prevalent in few industries. However, the trend continues and expands to other industries. Increasingly many industries including Healthcare, education, the construction industry is now leveraging free-lance partners for specific problems and solutions. In India, Initially, this trend was seen in primary workers aged late 50’s who would be closer to their retirement. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of younger workers in this economy.

Recently, Union Cabinet has approved the labour code on industrial relations 2019, allowing companies to hire workers on a fixed-term contract of any duration. The bill is going to be tabled in the winter session. (Ref: ET Bureau).

The recent trend of a lot of employees leaving a stable career by choice or not by choice to be independent workers will increase in 2020. A recent report by the BCG Henderson group mentioned that the use of Gig work platforms has grown by more than 30% in emerging economies. Nearly 20M gig workers do the work because they can’t find better pay or jobs elsewhere” (Gillespie, CNN Money, 2017). Clearly the year 2020 will be a lot challenging year for Gig workers.

Not only the demand is growing, but it’s also going to be competitive for them. Gig workers will have to depend a lot on their social capital. Word of mouth, social platforms, reviews, and networking will play a key role in recognizing them and getting valued assignments. Workers in the gig economy lack the benefits enjoyed by employed workers and often suffer from social and economic anxieties that are covered in traditional employment. For example, they may not have access to health insurance, retirement plans, sick leave, or paid time off. In the uncertain economic scenario, and with medical insurance soaring high, this may be a disadvantage to these workers. They are often faced with the challenges of Unpredicted schedules and Finances and may also feel a void against continuous engagement in employment.

On the other hand, the advantage they have is that it helps them to serve their larger purpose or immediate need of spending some time with family, pursuing their hobbies. While the year 2020 will see stiff competition in the Gig workers and an increased supply of gig workers, Workers with specialized and niche skills will continue to be high in demand.

They will continue to hold premium for the services offered depending upon the experience and niche skills they offer. Unfortunately, workers with limited or lower skills will remain at risk primarily because of demand and supply where supply will be in abundance. Independent workers need to build strategies to thrive in this economy like networking, using social media, creating their own brand.

Resilience is one of the competencies that should be present in these workers. Every worker should define the criteria of success for oneself. In the end, I believe in the statement the gig economy comes from a balance between viability and vitality. (HBR: Thriving in the Gig economy, Gianpiero, Ed: April 2018

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Kamaljeet Kaur, Executive Vice President- HR, Sterlite Power. She has seventeen years of experience in global multinational companies and large Indian organizations across diverse sectors such as Automobile, infrastructure, FMCG, services, and retail. Some of the companies she has worked are Wrigley, Hero Motor Corp, Jubilant FoodWorks, HDFC Bank. Kamaljeet is an Economics graduate and an alumnus of Symbiosis Centre for Management and HRD (SCMHRD), a premier HR MBA institute in India.

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