How Employees’ Roles In The Gig Economy Are Being Redefined

Simon Davies

Given the vast numbers of workers employed on a gig-to-gig basis, it’s not surprising that corporations and big brands are redefining the management of gig and contracted workers, whether to protect individuals’ employment rights or simply to communicate a unified message of company culture.

It comes after a number of high-profile disputes that have seen companies like Uber pay out up to $100 million in settlements and Deliveroo riders’ protest over workers’ rights. At the center of it are workers calling to be treated as employees rather than independent contractors, and those grievances are bearing fruit. Here are three recruitment and management strategies that are redefining employees’ roles in the gig economy.

Technology is reinterpreting human capital management

For companies that are largely dependent on contingent workers, a new centralized tech is being used as the framework to enable better management of global workforces, provide job security and HR solutions. It’s legitimizing the gig economy, which experts say has been around for generations, but is now calling for something new.

For example, the combination of an integrated its contract workers platform with an internal HR system enables managers to view employee data for their company’s global workforce, helping them to evaluate individual performance and career progression needs of permanent and contracted workers alike. The system is revolutionizing human capital management (HCM), promoting greater intention and increased retention.

As specialist SAP recruitment agency Eursap point out in a blog, the approach is enabling businesses to take greater ownership of their business processes. The platform, they explain, is creating an “internal talent marketplace” while allowing customers to perform other more transactional processes like payroll, time management, and administer benefits, largely the same way as they would for in-house employees.

U.S. legislators and pressure groups are introducing freelance benefits

A recent print ad from Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace, came to considerable criticism for celebrating working yourself to death. An article in “The New Yorker” similarly chimed in: “The gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor.”

Traditionally, gig employers have been hesitant to offer benefits, at least partly because they fear it would lead regulatory agencies to classify contractors as employees. Now, lawmakers in Washington, New Jersey and New York are planning to introduce a bill that would allow gig businesses to contribute to portable benefits programs for independent contractors.

It’s a little more of an issue across the Atlantic, where there’s no equivalent for the NHS, but could soon become more pressing in the UK given the Chancellor’s recent attempt to increase national insurance contributions for self-employed workers to 2%. Some of the perks that permanent employees are currently entitled to, that freelancers are not, include holiday pay, sickness pay, and maternity/paternity pay. To help freelance workers regulate their pay and secure similar benefits to their employed counterparts, the European Freelancers Movement is pushing for mutual support and income protection schemes.

Networks are revolutionizing gig economy recruitment

Companies facing in-house skills shortages are increasingly reliant on “networked” professional services firms made up of independent consultants with highly specialized skills. Firms offering services including consulting, marketing, research, and creative services are establishing themselves as specialist freelance recruitment agencies, connecting gig economy workers with vacant gigs.

One notable example includes the launch of PWC’s Talent Exchange, which matches independent consultants to client projects. The leader of PWC US advisory, Miles Everson said, “The jobs that we’re creating—they’re not low paid.” That’s turning certain conceptions of the gig economy as a harbinger of wage arbitrage, given the fact that these networks grow where there is a need for highly-skilled and specialized workers.

As much as people continue to talk about how the rise of the gig economy is redefining the way we work, these latest developments are further revolutionizing employees’ roles within that gig economy. If trends continue to develop as they have been, it’s only likely there’ll be more developments to come.

For more insight on today’s changing employment environment, see Surviving And Flourishing In The Gig Economy.


About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at socialbarrel.com, socialnomics.net, and tech.co. Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.