The Impact of the Gig Economy on Recruitment

20th October 2016
Geoff Collings

The rise of the so-called ‘gig economy’ looks set to alter the recruitment industry in a number of ways, but if you’re not familiar with this term, then you soon will be. It is becoming more widely known, as the number of people involved in it continues to rise. To summarise the term, the ‘gig economy’ is where self-employed or freelance workers take on a number of projects for different clients, rather than being in the permanent employment of only one firm.

Its rise has been brought about by an increase in the number of digital platforms that look to match up freelancers with companies that require a specific role, to be carried out for a short period of time. Traditionally, these platforms have been utilised by SME’s who don’t have the resources to recruit, for example, a PHP developer permanently or perhaps only need the skills for a little while.

If the gig economy is on the rise, and more workers are looking for this form of employment then should that be concerning to firms? Should they be worried that their workforce might be tempted away with the possibility of working from home, or earning more money for shorter term projects?

Well, no, in fact, we think that the rise of the gig economy offers firms that are looking to hire, two huge benefits.

  1. Access to highly-skilled individuals. When a firm recruits someone who has been working in the gig economy then it’s highly likely that that individual will have a far greater range of skills than someone who has been in a permanent, full-time position for their entire career. This is because the individual will, in effect, have been running their own business, and that means they’ll have project management, budgetary, marketing, problem solving, negotiating and customer service skills.

Many of these skills they may not have been able to develop unless they undertook some freelance work. In addition, they are more likely to have been exposed to a broader set of businesses and industries, allowing them to bring knowledge from other markets into the firm. That fresh perspective can often prompt creative ideas that help a business to grow.

  1. Satisfied employees. Many of those that do go to work in the gig economy often return to permanent employment because the gig economy does not provide the levels of security and benefits that permanent positions do. At the moment, there are very few regulations that surround it and levels of income can fluctuate from one month to another. In a world where people think that the grass is always greener on the other side, those that have seen the other side (working for themselves) are more likely to become content and satisfied employees when they return to a permanent position. And as we all know, a happy workforce is a more productive workforce.

So, rather than fearing a mass exodus of employees moving to the gig economy, recruiting firms should see it as an opportunity to pull in the most highly-skilled and enthusiastic individuals out there who can help the business move forward in both the short and long-term.