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The Gig Economy – How it Affects and Changes the Talent Landscape

By Universum on 27/04/2018

What is the Gig economy?

The Gig Economy is a far broader concept than most people realize. It encompasses century-old professional roles such as self-employed management consultants and freelance journalists. However, it was not until recently that the “Gig Economy” captured the public interest. Borrowing the word “gig” that in its essence means jumping from job to job with an uncertain future. The term Gig Economy is becoming ubiquitous in today’s society. There is an increasing amount of people jumping from position to position. Reinventing a practice that has been going on for centuries, the Gig Economy has been spurred on by P2P platforms, such as Uber, and TaskRabbit, which all offer the opportunity of working flexibly and freely.  As these ideas spread across the world, it changes and affects the new generational workforce. Something that is becoming more and more evident in the Nordics.

Why do people Gig?

This new labor market paradigm has now crept into everything from large enterprise marketing departments, health care centers, and even public organizations. Organizations that were once seen as dull and reluctant to change, now feel the need to adapt to the shifts in today’s workforce. Take the Swedish municipality Falun for example. To combat the stagnant number of full-time employees, they introduced an intra-organisational gig model where employees signed up for gigs around the local public functions. By offering more flexibility and the ability to try out different things,  full-time employment skyrocketed.

Why do people prefer flexibility over security?

We took the opportunity to talk with some gigging people working for Gigstr, a Swedish based company operating within the Nordic and British market, which focuses on matching gigging people with gigging tasks:

“Not returning to the same workplace every day makes me motivated. Discovering new work environments and being faced with new challenges on a weekly basis stimulates me. When gigging, I can choose what type of work I want to do, and build my work-week accordingly. Additionally, I meet more fun people out gigging than I do at my regular retail job.” – Gustav, 21, Stockholm, who Combines gigging with part-time work in a local grocery store.
“I started gigging full-time because I like the flexibility and the variation of the assignments. You gain precious experience from multiple industries and companies. And you get to know tons of outgoing people on the gigs.” – Victor, 27, Stockholm. Full-time gigger within marketing and PR.

What will happen to the Gig Economy in the future?

Much of what this new labor-market paradigm is all about, goes in line with Universum’s research on Millennials and Generation Z. Talent no longer appreciates an Employer Brand communicating work-life balance. To them, work-life balance should be a given. Therefore, other characteristics are more important when selecting their future employer. Universum’s research shows that freedom, flexibility, and openness are key characteristics for talent. Therefore important metrics within an employer.

The possibility to feel free and have flexibility in their job might be of their biggest interest; they are still afraid of not finding a job that matches their personality. Further, that they will get stuck in a job with no development opportunities. As one understands, talent reflects a lot more and are eager to have personal development in their career. Often they wonder how they fit in within the bigger purpose of businesses and how they emphasize being important to the overall development of their employer.

What does this mean for companies and how can they prepare?

As much as talent emphasize freedom in their work, they still emphasize job security. Companies need to have an Employer Brand that offers both. At first, this can seem contradictory in the talent’s behavior in their pursuit of freedom. However looking at the example of Falu Kommun, having a flexible workplace helps meeting their needs and captures the underlying needs of the next generation’s workforce.

With the indisputable coming of the Gig Economy, how can you as an Employer prepare yourself? Most companies today work actively with Employer Branding and have a strategy in place to attract, recruit and retain talent. However many companies still struggle to get their Employer Branding right. Companies with a clear employer branding strategy gain the upper hand in talent attraction. However, even though many companies say that they work actively with Employer Branding, they struggle in getting their Employer Value Proposition right and don’t attract the right talent for their company.