Article (November-2021)


A compelling option?

Anil Kaushik

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Once the sidelined or growing little, gig economy has now turned into a wave, it seems. It happened because of pandemic. Various studies and surveys have confirmed that gig work opportunities are increasing at a very fast speed because of uncertainties business world has faced during this period that compelled them to think on different ways of employment. In other words, we can understand the chronology behind the spur in gig economy. Covid situation created uncertainty in business. With advent of technology and digitilization App basesd business models have gained ground. Startups and platform businesses did work on an employment model that is cost effective with no recurring liability and having flexibility. On the other side increasing unemployment among educated gen Y and Z that believes in freedom and flexibility in work  got attracted towards a model  which tech based new economy business were eagerly waiting to offer and tap that workforce which suits to their short term needs. This is something connecting supply and demand that fuelled the growth of gig economy not in India but the whole world. The job market has completely changed. The employers are using gig not as a strategy but a tactic.

Gig economy has find place and spread well in banking, financial services, insurance, logistics, IT/ITes, E-Commerce, App/Platform based business, Ed tech and Pharma Sector. The numbers of gig workers are increasing every year.

It is said and pushed forward rigorously that the gig economy is beneficial to both-employer and gig worker. While the Employer saves on overhead costs, statutory compliance, hire and fire, future liability and get task based expertise, Gig worker enjoy flexible work hours, independence, choice of work and opportunity to work more with multiple agencies and earn more that offers this generation an outlet to escape monotony of fixed hours working. It is also said that students also monetise their idle time by working as gig. It is a concept something like life time career vs. live in present only where future is not thought about. It evolves around few characteristics like  both are not legally bound making risk factor zero. There is no commitment and loyalty of employee towards organisation as it is limited to task completion only. It is all about relevance, need and expertise-who and how fast one can fix the problem. 

But there is a flip side too of this economy. Jobs are there but of low quality. Gig workers are over worked and underpaid. They have no secured future. Complex contracts, impossible targets to achieve, Changing rates of incentives, uncertainty of payments, average earnings after working for 12 hours daily are few hard facts which after realising in first few months of undertaking the work, gig worker quits and prefer to look for stability at lesser payout. That's why attrition in gig economy is very high.

The Social Security Code which is yet to be enforced, has provided provisions for social security network for this class of workforce but much needed to be done quickly. Use and throw model should be replaced by handholding for long till gig is established and his future is secured. It is to be thought beyond business imperatives.

This edition Cover story explores different dimensions of gig economy, the way it works and how should HR intervenes to ensure that there is WIN- WIN for both stake holders.

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