Rise of the Gig Economy

Managing a contingent workforce

There aren’t many people who like travelling into work; early wake up’s and hours wasted commuting to and from the office. Would you prefer being able to work from home every day of the week, shortening your work hours to sleep in that little bit longer, or simply having the flexibility to pick up the kids from school. Well, this idea has become a reality for a fast-growing percentage of our workforce. The gig economy describes the emergence of a global workforce driven by flexible working arrangements and a multitude freelance opportunities.

What is this gig economy?

The gig economy, also known as the contingent workforce, refers to a growing number of independent workers who are breaking the traditional 9-5 working day and moving towards work as autonomous freelancers. This change in behaviour has created a shift in the workplace and managers are now focusing on adjusting their current work culture and HRM to effectively manage this contingent workforce alongside their permanent workers.

But why is this economy growing so quickly? One word, flexibility. The growth of this workforce is driven by individuals wanting to choose their own working hours, which projects they undertake and which companies they work with. Organisations are turning to the gig economy to source their workforce due to the ease of organising temporary workers and resources, reductions in labour expenses and training costs, and also reduced benefits like long service leave and superannuation. Furthermore, managers now have access to employees all over the world, presenting new opportunities to work with project experts and cheaper labour.

Managing the gig economy

The gig economy is changing the modern workplace and managers must be flexible and pro-active to shift with this change and exploit the benefits of a contingent workforce. Contingent workers must be viewed as a crucial aspect of the company’s success, and not just an add-on that comes day-in, day-out. With access to candidates all over the world, managers should prepare themselves with the appropriate tools and processes to ensure they are able to hire the most suitable workers for their projects. This means ensuring their sourcing, screening, onboarding and performance management stages are designed around identifying and motivating the most suitable candidates.

When designing their on-boarding process, it is essential that employers create a warm and welcoming introductory phase to encourage workers and establish a level of respect for the brand. Considerations must then turn to managing and retaining these employees by understanding what rewards motivate this workforce. This generally includes learning new skills, higher salaries and flexible working hours. An effective off-boarding process is another important aspect and will ensure all the important skills and insights the contractor acquired during the project remains within the business. This process could include exit-interviews and project summary reports.


The gig economy is reshaping the workplace as we know it, and it is important that managers understand the benefits of this workforce, and learn how to incorporate them into existing organisational structures. This will allow managers to build the strongest workforce they can for each individual project they undertake.