Did you know that an estimated 36% of the American workforce is now freelancing? And that 63% of freelancers actually choose to be freelancers?
Most HR leaders hardly batted an eye when they heard of the concept of the gig economy. Sure, there really wasn’t much to go by. We’ve all heard of the terms ‘consulting’ and ‘freelancing,’ and the very notion that employees would be crazy enough to leave well-paid jobs for more stress, sleepless nights, and the risk associated with consulting work was enough to provide a sense of security about the future. But that’s changing.
The gig economy is booming and more people are choosing this way of life. Some cite life work/balance and the desire to be digital nomads, while others simply want a way to grow without the restrictions of corporate structure.
For example, a Boston-based company called HourlyNerd, connects alumni of top business schools and other specialized programs with companies that require top talent who can complete special projects. The most successful freelancers make a comfortable living, earning six figures and enjoying a steady flow of work engagements while they travel the world.
What does this mean for your workforce? How are they adjusting to the idea that there may be more lucrative work in the gig economy, work which can challenge them in ways that rigid corporate structure cannot allow, giving them the opportunity to grow and experience more self-actualization?
With the direction and the speed at which technology and the internet are changing the way we work and live, HR leaders have to pay more attention to the threat posed by the gig economy. Your staff could very well be planning an exit from full-time employment. And as this trend begins to grow, you could find yourself losing your best talent.
The internal gig economy
Internal gig economies have existed in various forms for many years—think Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, or Google’s personal projects time. These programs present employees with a much-needed outlet for growth.
For Lockheed, they were able to realize the creation of the SR71 aircraft model which was later used for the development of the long-range Mark 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, also known as the ‘Blackbird’ and used by the United States Air Force.
Googlers gave birth to Gmail, the ubiquitous free and paid business email service that very quickly displaced Yahoo! Mail and has over 1 billion active users worldwide.
For today’s conscious HR leaders, an internal gig economy gives them the chance to create more opportunities for staff who want to contribute in different ways.
For example, by launching your own gig economy, you can provide staff a chance to stretch their abilities by completing new projects, developing new skills, or trying new jobs without leaving your company. All of this bridges the gap that has become inevitable in the modern workforce.
By introducing your company’s gig economy, you’re embracing a real external threat and leveraging it to create a more skilled, effective, and engaged workforce who will remain within your organization for longer.
The gig economy is a very real threat that HR professionals must pay attention to. As employees seek more growth opportunities, the attractive nature of project work and associated freedom could see unprepared businesses lose valuable talent. As a preventative measure, rolling out an internal gig economy positions your business to retain talent while giving them the option to develop new skills, experience more work opportunities, and contribute back into your organization’s growth.
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