May 29, 2020
A new report from Aon claims that the so-called gig economy will continue to flourish but many employers are still adjusting to its realities. Using research from HR and gig workers across Europe, the report, Gig Economy: Financial Security or Greater Control, claims that 26 percent of European HR directors believe their workforces will have 51-75 percent of gig workers in five years’ time, while 18 percent of UK HRDs believe 75 percent or more of their workforce will be made up of contractors in 5 years’ time. Nearly all HRDs believe providing health and benefits packages would improve gig worker recruitment (94 percent), engagement (93 percent), productivity (88 percent) and retention (95 percent).
The report is based on 500 interviews with three groups of people: 200 HR directors, 150 B2B/white collar gig workers and 150 B2C/blue collar gig workers. They were interviewed from across the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and France.
The report concludes that:
- Alongside the more traditional B2B gig workers, there is an emergence of B2C gig workers, who connect customers to products and services. Examples include Amazon, Deliveroo and Airbnb.
- Gig working is not a simple win-win. There’s an increasing business reliance on gig workers to help to stay lean and responsive, yet 54 percent of gig workers are worried for their financial future, 67 percent would feel more positive towards the organisation if benefits were in place, while just 31 percent are offered benefits within their contract.
- The tech sector has the most acute competition for gig workers; 68 percent of HR directors say competition is increasing.
- Gig working is not a temporary solution, nearly 50 percent of all B2B and B2C gig workers have been so for three years or more, suggesting an active career choice (29 percent have worked as a contractor for 3-5 years and 18 percent have worked as a contractor for 6-10 years). Nine in 10 gig workers split their time between only one and three companies at a time.
The report details three particular issues making it necessary for businesses to prepare for changes:
- Regulation is likely to get stronger because of gig working’s increasingly transactional nature. Vocal champions of workers’ rights from within governments, unions and from workers themselves are shining an increasingly intense light on HR practices.
- Competition for highly technical and specialised talent is outstripping supply, particularly impacting small to medium enterprises that may not be able to offer top salaries or lucrative stock options.
- Organisations may have knowledge gaps about an increasingly large part of their workforce. Having a clear understanding of people working for them helps drive performance outcomes and solve critical business challenges.
Matthew Lawrence, Chief Broking Officer, Health Solutions, EMEA, of Aon, said: “The gig economy is not new, but events have been driving its growth over the past decade – including a global talent crunch, an ideological shift towards a greater work/life balance and the need for an on-demand workforce. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear to see why the gig economy has disrupted traditional workforce models and will continue to transform future labour markets.
“In particular, the pandemic exposes a potential vulnerability of those working in the gig economy. Many people are curious to see if this crisis will accelerate potential legislation affording gig workers more labour rights and protections or whether the autonomy and flexibility it offers becomes less appealing for workers as the anticipated economic contraction takes effect.
”However, this way of working may become more appealing for employers looking to hire the talent needed to transform and innovate. It offers employers the ability to keep the workers they specifically need, at a specific time.”
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