Is the Gig Economy Luring Away Workers? What Hiring Managers Need to Know.

Jenna SpinelleCandidate Selection Process Strategy, Employee Engagement, Finding Top Quality Candidates, Hiring Process, News

Employees huddled around a desk collaborating on a project.

Over the past few years, the media has been flooded with stories about the gig economy and how it’s changing the future of work. That’s a pretty bold statement and one that makes for a catchy headline, but how much of an impact is it really having?

Once you understand how the gig economy shapes the hiring market, you can design your positions and your hiring assessments accordingly.

By the Numbers

Some of the reason for the hype about the gig economy might have come from a lack of reliable data about how big it really was. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on what it calls “contingent and alternative employment arrangements” in June. This was the first time such data had been released since 2005.

The results? 5.9 million people, or less than 4 percent of the overall workforce, hold contingent jobs. This includes people who utilize sites like Uber and TaskRabbit as their primary source of income, as well as full-time freelancers in professional fields.

Beyond that, there are an additional 10.6 million independent contractors who utilize these alternative work arrangements as an additional source of income to supplement full-time employment. This type of work is commonly known as a side hustle — another term frequently associated with the gig economy.

These numbers stand in contrast to reports from gig economy companies like Upwork, who estimated in 2017 that 57 million people engaged in independent work. The government did acknowledge that its numbers might not reflect all types of gig economy income, such as renting out a home through Airbnb.

The Impact

Ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, analysts expected the gig economy numbers to be much higher. The fact that they weren’t lead some to say that its impact was overblown.

“I think everybody’s narrative got blown up,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told the New York Times.

No matter what data you look at or how you interpret it, full-time employment is not going anywhere. The vast majority of workers prefer full-time employment and the benefits that come with it.

It will take massive structural changes in the gig economy and related areas to convince most workers to turn their side hustle into a full-time job. Expanding participation in the gig economy will require massive policy changes to things like health care and retirement. Those changes do not appear to be coming anytime soon.

The Gig Economy and Your Open Positions

Even though full-time employment is not going away, it does not mean that traditional employers are entirely immune from the gig economy. It can affect your hiring process in ways you might not expect.

For example, you could see an increase in candidates who require flexibility to work gig jobs. Millennials and younger employees do not hold the same view of the traditional 9-to-5 workday that older generations do and might require the flexibility to move back and forth between full-time and gig employment throughout the day.

A behavior aptitude assessment can help you determine whether a candidate will be able to balance what you ask of them with their side hustle — and perhaps even how likely they are to seek out gig work in the first place.

With a little knowledge and planning, you can utilize the gig economy to your advantage to hire entrepreneurial candidates who will bring new ideas and a strong work ethic to the table.