Gig Work: The New Employer-Employee Relationship

The Rise of Gig Workers

Since the Great Recession, many observers have been fascinated by the rise of “gig workers,” a term for independent laborers who don’t have a traditional employer-employee relationship.

Gallup research finds that 36% of U.S.workers participate in the gig economy through either their primary or secondary jobs — jobs with short term contracts or freelance work. The gig economy encompasses everyone from self-employed graphic designers to nurses who work on contracts during shortages, and from on-call teachers to Uber drivers.

In their book, It’s The Manager, Jim Clifton and Jim Harter said, “Today’s employees may have a traditional job plus one or more ‘side hustles.’ Many companies are already using a contingent workforce to maximize human capital. Yet, it is unclear if gig work is beneficial for workers and organizations over the long term.”

Challenge With the Gig Economy

Advantages aside, gig economy workforce is not without its downside. According to a TIME magazine sponsored survey, freelance workers and contractors will earn 28 percent less than their regular counterparts, however, that’s only because they work fewer hours. According to the survey, more than 80 percent of companies that use independent contractors say they do so because they can quickly adjust the size of their workforce, save money on benefits, and tailor the worker to a specific task.

Inspired by the examples of successful entrepreneurs, many people no longer want to climb the career ladder but are drawn to the idea of creating their own future. Time, in this case, prevails over money.

In theory, and according to proponents of ‘flexible working’, these workers enjoy the freedom to work whenever they choose. And this may suit some, for example, students, older workers or parents looking after kids who could use a bit extra to supplement other sources of income.

A Manager and (Gig) Worker Development Resource

Another challenge brought about by the “New Employer-Employee Relationship” is who is responsible for employee development. Even though gig workers are part-time and/or temporary employees, they need to be just as effective as any other employee — and possibly even more so.

My colleagues and I have been implementing team development for virtual teams and other employees who are not part of an intact team or work remotely. Based on the principles of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, the new Five Behaviors Personal Development Profile can harness the power of The Five Behaviors across the entire organization. Adopting a common language that begins by learning how to build vulnerability-based trust, all employees are empowered to rewrite what it means to work together.

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Download a descriptive brochure of The Five Behaviors Personal Development Profile.

In the Next Issue: GIG Workers: Desperate or Satisfied

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