What’s Wrong With The Gig Economy?

What’s Wrong With The Gig Economy?

By Michael Grange, REPL Group

Unemployment across the UK and US is running at about 4.5%, which is low for the US and the lowest in the UK for 40 years! The increase in zero-hour contracts and the gig economy are partly behind this low rate, and are providing much-needed work for thousands. But are we shaping a sustainably-dynamic future, or heading for a complete economic meltdown?

A Growing Trend

It’s difficult to dispute the arrival of the gig economy when, in the UK, we see reports of a 72% increase and similarly, in the US, the gig economy is now estimated to represent about 34% of the US workforce. Not surprisingly, despite there clearly being benefits for many people (Uber drivers are a major part of the gig economy, and there have been about 2 billion Uber journeys so far) not everyone is happy…!

Equal Rights

This huge increase in uptake of a more flexible way of working has raised questions about the employment rights that zero-hour and gig economy workers have; when does a job, whose hours can equate to that of a full-time job, qualify as a full-time job?

Rarely talked about is the level of ‘debt’ we’re adding to the economy, where the cost of workers’ rights is not being met. This shortfall in pension and tax contributions will no-doubt have an impact in decades to come.

Fortunately, the conversations about how to improve the rights of zero-hour and gig economy workers are now being had, initially with Deliveroo, but others will be sure to quickly follow behind!

A Better Team

One change that will have a profound effect on zero hour and gig economy workers, is the new way of thinking beingembraced by leading organisations. They recognise that, in order to get the best out of their people, they need to adopt a more end-to-end approach to workforce management (WFM).

A new concept being called ‘true workforce management’ (tWFM) still includes the traditional ‘right person, right place, right time’, but also incorporates resource recruitment (being referred to as talent science), and the need for clear and open channels of communication for everyone, allowing personalised engagement & collaboration.

More Change to Come

Reassuringly, having debates about this new way of working now, is certainly starting to get the attention of Governments and businesses around the globe. So, whilst I’m confident that zero hour and gig economy jobs will continue to thrive, I also have no-doubt that they still have some change to come!

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