In Conversation With Paramjit Singh Nayyar CHRO, Hero Housing Finance on the rise of GIG economy in India.
Paramjit is a passionate HR leader with 20+ years of experience in scaling up businesses in diverse industries – BFSI, Telecom, Retail, and Health Care. He has spent the last 12 years in HR leadership roles including CHRO, HR Business Partner, Head – Talent Acquisition, COE, and Geography HR Head.
Paramjit has been associated with renowned corporate houses as their HR leader, including Bharti Airtel, Apollo Munich, and Bharti Axa. He currently leads the HR, Admin, and CSR functions for Hero Housing Finance, part of one of India’s largest business groups, Hero, to cultivate a high-performance, engaging, and value-driven work culture.
He has a proven capability to partner with businesses in creating value in high-growth and complex environments, crafting innovative HR strategies, managing large teams, enabling change, and leveraging HR technology. Solving complex people and cultural issues with empathy makes him happy, and setting up a challenging vision, building best-in-class teams, driving execution with stakeholders, and not losing sight of the big picture while focusing on details are things, he is passionate about.
Q- How do you see the rise of the Gig Economy shaping up and impacting the economy in the future?
The world of work is witnessing a paradigm shift. The nature of work, workforce, and workplace is considerably changing due to rapid digitalization, hybrid working models, thriving start-up ecosystems, and the evolving talent landscape. Amid these changes, the gig economy also known as ‘Independent work’ in common parlance, has garnered sufficient spotlight.
This trend surely looks like causing a considerable impact on the job economy.
The research suggests that, in the post-pandemic work ecosystem, employees’ perspective toward work and life at large has changed. The flexible-work aspirations of the workforce, the preference for holistic well-being at work, and the scarcity of key future skills have further shifted the power toward employees. This has also influenced attrition numbers at a global level and the talent gap created has further intensified the war for talent.
Against this backdrop, an independent work economy with access to a global talent pool not only seems lucrative but also poses a way further for filling the critical and also future talent gap. The rise of digitally powered gig platforms further propels the gig work economy by blurring organizational and geographical boundaries and offering a diverse talent pool at varying price margins to suit employers’ pockets.
If we look at it from the Indian job market perspective, as the ASSOCHAM report also suggests – it is expected to surpass $455 billion by 2024 in India. This shift will impact the economy of the country by raising labor force participation, increasing the number of hours worked in the economy, stimulating consumption, providing opportunities for the unemployed, and boosting the GDP of the country. Therefore, in my view, the gig economy, although at a nascent stage now, is all set for an upward growth trajectory, and with all the value that it has to offer, it surely will be a welcome shift.
Q- What are the challenges for the organizations to adapt and accelerate the pace of Gig work in India?
The changing nature of work and workplace along with the radically changing business ecosystem offers the right ground for the Gig economy to spike up. However, organizations are still deliberating whether to scale up Gig talent hiring as one of the preferred modes for filling the talent gap.
From an organizational standpoint, I believe the lack of regulatory norms surrounding gig work contracts raises apprehensions about corporate loyalty from gig workers. Whereas, from the employees’ perspective, the lack of benefits like medical insurance, disability insurance, accidental cover, etc. dissuades a considerable talent pool from taking up gig work contracts. Other potential hurdles include reduced access to credit, the risk of not being paid for work that is already performed, and complex tax filing, licensing, and regulatory compliance requirements.
Also, the uproar around full-time, permanent employees taking up Gig work outside their own organization, popularly known as ‘moonlighting’, discourages many employees from engaging in it.
However, in my view, despite many challenges, the continuing skill gap and the changing demographics in the workplace will continue creating talent pressures on organizations. The industry reports suggest that the gig economy will account for half of the workforce by 2030. Eventually, organizations will have to and must explore adding a gig talent pool to their talent acquisition strategy.
Q- How does the Gig work economy impact the culture of an organization?
I think to integrate gig workers into the organization’s culture, it’s important to meet their expectations. By the very nature of their aspirations, these employees require a different value proposition. Therefore, organizations have to tailor their engagement efforts accordingly.
This requires a shift in the organization’s existing culture. For example, gig workers require a variety of work and ways of working. Organizations need to adapt their work allocation and engagement approaches for better assimilation of gig workers. They can step up to offer selected benefits to contract employees based on the work completed. For example, Uber subsidizes car maintenance and offers phone plan discounts, while Lyft offers discounts for fuel, roadside assistance, and telemedicine to their drivers.
Similarly, other companies can design and implement initiatives based on their context. This will not just push organizations to evolve in terms of their openness, risk-taking abilities, and newer capabilities but also equip them to take up projects and work targets that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible.
Therefore, from an impact perspective, we see the Gig economy ushering in a whole new culture of openness, acceptance, flexibility, high performance, and inclusivity.
Q- What are the Dos and Don’ts of Gig Economy?
I think it’s critical to understand that, while the gig economy provides a positive thrust to the organization’s capability, profitability and culture, there are many aspects that need to be sensitively managed.
In my opinion, organizations must first consider trade-offs, including the possibility of a deep divide between permanent and gig talent, followed by a greater churn. To avoid such an impact, organizations must map out scenarios and work projects that call for a gig workforce to be employed. In addition to this, there must be a comprehensive plan laid out around hiring, compensation and benefits, onboarding and inclusion, and engagement and offboarding of the gig workforce to ensure that gig workers are engaged, compensated, and treated fairly and ethically. Also, teams engaging gig workers must be designed with the right mix of permanent and gig talent.
Also, for any organization planning on including a gig talent pool, it will be beneficial to soft-land the change to be expected within its existing employee base to avoid a culture shock and potential bottlenecks. These measures will not only alleviate apprehensions of permanent employees but also address expectations of both kinds of workforces.
Q- Any final words?
If we consider the success of Uber, Airbnb, and the like, coupled with the speed with which the business ecosystem is changing and rendering skills obsolete, it is evident that the gig economy fits the future of work and is here to stay.
With the recent announcements by Infosys to allow its employees to take up gig work outside the organization, it seems many more corporate giants may follow suit with this practice.
These changes, apart from celebrating a culture of openness, meritocracy, performance, and inclusivity, also reinforce the reality that we are living in an age of a rapidly evolving business ecosystem.
Thank you, Paramjit!