Why Recruiters Need to Embrace the Gig Economy

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a substantial rise in what’s become known as “gigging”.

The government defines the gig economy as “the exchange of labour for money between individuals or companies via digital platforms that actively facilitate matching between providers and customers, on a short-term and payment-by-task basis.”

As it stands, gigging is changing the way we work at an impressive rate.

TheREC estimates that there are currently 4.8 million people in the UK who are now self-employed or gigging — that’s 15% of the population. They predict this rate of change will only accelerate, with reports indicating that more people in the UK will be gigging and working for themselves than in traditional employment by 2025. In fact, only 13% of British people believe they will be working in traditional 9-5 employment by 2025.

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This new way of working grants workers maximum flexibility: they can choose their hours, the projects they want to work on, and they can manage the way they work.

And in a world where only 6.2% of advertised vacancies feature a strong flexi-time policy, gigging can make traditional full-time work look rigid in comparison.

Though traditional full-time roles may always have a place in society, one thing is certain: the gig economy is growing, and recruiters need to be ready to ride the wave.

The extraordinary rise of “gigging”

The birth of the gig economy can be traced back to 2009, when the economic crash shook the world and millions of people were made redundant as a result.

To make ends meet, workers that had formerly felt secure in their jobs needed to stitch together an income short-term by working two or even three different part-time jobs.

The silver lining of this economic dark age was that it liberated workers who felt married to the 9 to 5. With temporary work easier to find than ever before, people could strike their ideal work-life balance by choosing the jobs and hours that best suited them. It was a level of freedom that traditional full-time jobs couldn’t provide.

Technology propelled the gig economy into a fully fledged revolution, with Uber, AirBnB and others providing online platforms for millions of people to quickly pick up the gigs they wanted, without worrying about a long-term commitment.

Now, we’ve reached a stage where gigging is fueling our economic future. A study by PwC forecasted that the gig economy will expand by over 30% a year for the next decade, generating £18bn of revenue for gigging platforms and creating £140bn worth of transactions annually by 2025.

How gigging can help employers grow their business

Gigging provides some helpful alternatives for businesses and freelancers that want more from conventional recruitment practices. It provides small businesses and teams with limited budgets the resource to complete projects without needing to spend on a full-time hire.

Having this option to employ on a temporary basis means that businesses are benefiting from a high-calibre of talent without needing to account for the high-salary that would normally come with it, which is especially useful if you simply need a helping hand to get a project over the line or even just a consultant to provide guidance.

What the gig economy means for recruiters

While online gigging might look threatening to traditional recruitment agencies, it presents new opportunities to those that are willing to adapt.

Firstly, freelancers in the gig economy are proactive in their search for work, meaning recruiters don’t have to spend as much time qualifying leads.

Secondly, recruiters now have access to a wider pool of talent, one that potentially spans the globe since many projects can be completed for employers remotely.

Steve Thompson, Managing Director of Forward Role Recruitment, explains the importance of supporting workers in the gig economy. “Current trends indicate that the continued emergence of the gig economy will be one of the most significant changes to happen to the labour market for decades, so businesses and recruiters that want to remain relevant need to embrace it.

“Businesses that rely on attracting top tier talent need to tailor their employee value proposition to meet the needs of ‘giggers’. Recruiters that have the best talent available ‘on demand’ will be king.”

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