Schneider Electric CHRO- O3 key factors driving the Gig Workforce
The concept of ‘work’ as we knew it, is undergoing a change. Among the many reasons that are impacting the nature of work, the hybrid way of working and the gig economy have emerged as some of the most important ones and have established themselves as a rising trend. Gig working is designed to support freelancers and specialists who want the flexibility of a short-term contract with the high engagement, innovation, and diversity that large corporations offer.
The gig economy is an environment in which time-bound positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for the relevant time required for the project. This also works two-ways – helping organisations and recruiters to tap into the large talent pool of skilled professionals who are not part of the traditional workforce, enabling them to engage with the right talent for the right opportunities at the right time, and allows talent to explore options of projects which allow them to leverage their portfolio of skills. It’s a win-win!
What is Driving Rise of Gig Workforce?
There are three key factors that we see as driving the gig workforce – technology, demographics, and lifestyle, this will see an acceleration post-pandemic too. We know how much technology has liberated people from their geography. Mobile technologies and virtual collaboration tools mean that much more work is done outside of organisations, while human cloud platforms have turbocharged an entirely new group of contractors and entrepreneurs.
- The millennial generation which has grown up in this technological revolution sees nothing unusual in pushing the boundaries toward more flexible, collaborative and entrepreneurial modes of work. They are, both, willing to engage in gig work and, as managers, use gig workers in their organisations.
- From a lifestyle perspective, the gig economy offers flexibility, diversity and autonomy that is unparalleled. Whether it’s mothers returning to work, fathers wanting to spend more time with families or baby boomers wanting a ‘semi-retirement’, there is a growing cohort whose hearts and minds are driving them in a similar direction.
- And, the final key element is the way that enterprises are leveraging these free agents within their organisations and using them to get better results such as more flexible ‘on-demand’ delivery of products, services, and niche talent.
The important point is that the benefits cut both ways. Gig workers are being increasingly recognised and utilised for their worth to mainstream enterprises and, in turn, they enjoy the work and lifestyle flexibility it offers. The organisation is making use of the flexibility and competitiveness that flows from the more agile gig workforce.
As organisations move towards new ways of working, it would also call for a re-think at changes required in our ecosystem as we adapt to this, in the domain of crafting future employment contracts, re-design of rewards structure, governance processes and importantly engagement and wellbeing of our employees.
Time to Look at Benefits for Gig Workers
While one of the defining factors of the gig economy is that the duty of the platform/end-user is limited to paying the worker for the specific job (gig) that the gig worker carries out, given the changing economic landscape there is potential for employee benefits to also be extended to gig workers. In this regard, the Labour Code on Social Security, the proposed bill for which was passed by the Government recently, proposes social security benefits for gig workers which is an indication of the change in the approach of the Government to the provision of social security. Benefits could include pension, provident fund contributions, health insurance, and unemployment wages and more as part of the various government schemes.
The new rules are expected to encourage more young workers to join the gig economy which has become a major contributor to India’s GDP. A report by Invest India estimates that the share of the gig economy in the services sector in the urban workforce is 25%. The total workforce in the services sector in urban areas is estimated to be around 35 Mn. However, gig workers, affiliated with online platforms, have repeatedly complained of irregular working hours, deviation from labour contracts, and poor health coverage, among other issues. But the new regulation might address some of these issues.
New Ways of Working at Schneider Electric
We live in a global, digital, and ever-changing environment. The nature of work and where and how it happens is transforming continuously. For Schneider Electric, our New Ways of Working need to reflect these broader shifts, while supporting continuous business performance and diverse employees’ needs to perform at their best and live their unique life and work. Hence, we are gearing ourselves to tap into the larger talent pool and experiment with new workforce models, including gig and flexible work constructs, which is not something new to Schneider Electric.
The success of the gig economy is dictated by a region’s culture as well. In the US or the EU, it is accepted more rationally than in Asian countries. In countries like India, for example, we have a mixed landscape with IT and technology industry players likely to be early adopters while the traditional norms of work, propensity to stay anchored to stable jobs, fewer networking platforms, etc., have curtailed its rapid expansion in some other sectors.
But regardless of its current pace of adoption worldwide, gig economy is here to stay and strengthen, in the future. People like the flexibility of gigs, and technology has made it easier to connect them to the jobs. It has filtered well through white-collar professions such as in commerce, banking, the legal profession, etc. Even the labour-intensive business process management industry is increasingly turning to this kind of employment to perform critical jobs like customer service, manning both front-and back-office roles.
With more and more on-demand platforms emerging to support agile, responsive, cross-geography work models, it’s a given that the future organisations will well and truly embrace workforce of the future with open arms.
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