The opportunity of an internal “Gig Economy”

A play on words derived from the music scene: after the gig, bands pocket their wages and travel on the tour bus to the next gig. Now the term “Gig Economy” is spreading in the job market. The term refers to a change from traditional, full-time employment contracts to an independent system (with temporary employees or contractors), in which each job or project is compensated.

The best-known examples are Uber, Smood or Airbnb. The point here is that the companies only offer the platform but don’t hire people, they work privately. According to a study by Gallup 36 per cent in the US work in the Gig Economy – with a rising tendency. So far, there are no comprehensive figures for Switzerland. For sure many people have already operated as gig workers in one form or another. In companies such as UBS or CS, one-third of the workforce is already employed on a temporary (or external) basis. However, this form of work is usually not the main source of income.

While the advocates emphasize above all the maximum flexibility of this concept, critics warn against wage dumping and problems from an employment and social security perspective. If the “gig economy” prevails, this will also present a huge challenge for HR. The task then is to coordinate different employment contract models, to secure labour law and to clarify which models are needed for which tasks and how to find the right people.

The same system can also become an internal opportunity in a company. Instead of just making vacancies public, companies are also increasingly posting projects or mandates internally. For employees, this means a more varied working day and, above all, the chance to learn new skills. In this way, employees stay with the company longer and hidden talents become visible.