The Future of Work – Part 2

As we mentioned in our previous blog in this series, the world of work is ever changing – and never more so than now.

Fundamental Changes

One of the most fundamental changes is the boom of the gig economy. This is where people work on a freelance basis, for different employers, and possibly in different roles.

A new report from McKinsey, entitled ‘Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy’ is proving to be quite groundbreaking – for two reasons.

Not only is it the first time that any real study has been made of freelancer workers in the 21st century, it has made a – to some – surprising discovery about those workers.

It has been assumed generally that people who work in the ‘gig economy’ do so because they are desperate and unable to find a ‘real’ job. But this report reveals that 74% of independent workers in the UK do so because they want to – and it’s not limited to young people by any means – only of a quarter of those in this category were under 25.

Not only that, but these people seem to be happier than traditional employees, with more job satisfaction. This gig economy stretches across many professions, from less well-paid ones to sectors such as construction, transport, doctors, therapists, accountants and writers.

And PwC’s My life connected report says that while technology is helping to drive the trend, the main catalyst is workers who are keen to take control over their own careers.

The gig economy is set to grow according to McKinsey’s report – which found 14 per cent of traditional workers expressed a desire to become an ‘independent worker’. Forecasts say that by 2020, the gig economy will be worth around £2 billion in the UK and $63 billion globally.

Are HR departments ready to tackle this change in direction? Not according to PwC’s The future of work, which discovered that fewer than one-third of organisations are basing their strategies for future recruitment on this change – even though nearly half of HR professionals expect that 20% of their staff will comprise temporary and contract workers by 2020.

Around half of organisations don’t offer training or appraisals for casual staff – and the figures are even higher for freelance and agency workers.

Embrace Change

HR departments will need to embrace the idea of the gig economy, and form networks with former employees who leave – in case they want to use their new skills in the future. The flexibility that freelance staff can provide can enable companies to be productive for longer hours – maybe making sales or opportunities available with companies in different time zones, to cover staff absence more effectively and to bring in specific skillsets as and when they are needed.

PwC, for example, has an online platform that connects independent professionals with its own teams. Freelancers can register at Talent Exchange and upload their CVs and then apply to work on various projects within PwC. It means the company can access the talent it needs at short notice – what is there not to like?

Talk to your department leaders, find out what resources they are short of. Discover what requirements they need and you could set up a similar system to make a more effective system in your own organisation.

Organisations will need to make changes in their culture and their leadership, as well as marketing and recruitment – and this is a great opportunity for HR to lead the way…

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time. Please get in touch if you have any questions or require more information on this article by email: cecily.lalloo@embracehr.co.uk or phone: 07767 308 717.