THE CHANGING FACE OF AUSTRALIAN EMPLOYMENT. THE GIG ECONOMY. With 32 percent of the Australian workforce having engaged in freelance work in the last 3 years, it’s fairly safe to say the ‘gig economy’ is building momentum. The good news is that this new 21st century workforce has some serious benefits for employees and employers alike. The word ‘gig’ use to be synonymous with musicians. Nowadays, it’s a common term for a much wider audience as more and more Australians choose to earn their living doing ‘gigs’, rather than working a traditional full-time job. Welcome to the ‘gig economy’; a virtual marketplace where people buy and sell their skills and services. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in the UK estimated that within five years, almost half of Human Resource Managers expect contractors or freelance workers to comprise at least a fifth of their workforce. These are significant numbers. This trend is not just overseas; here in Australia, a recent study revealed that nearly 4.1 million Australians are partaking in freelance work.
So why are so many saying goodbye to the fixed salary, annual leave and once highly valued company benefits? In recent years, Vertical Talent has certainly seen a rise in contractors across the Supply Chain and Logistics industry. One of the key reasons for such a dramatic shift in favour of freelance work is being driven not only by companies but by individuals who want to improve work-life balance over what is possible in most jobs. They want more control, freedom and autonomy when it comes to work. The gig economy offers independent workers to select only those jobs that they're interested in – and that is quite a change from the traditional employment paradigm. Contracting also provides variety and change – and for some, they enjoy the challenge of new projects and the learning those projects will entail.
Another recent trend has also seen contractors working to fill a role whilst a business searches for a full-time employee. This can allow a significant reduction in productivity loss, especially in those vital roles within a business when a staff member leaves. The benefits are not just for gig employees themselves companies too are benefiting in a number of ways. Aside from the obvious, such as smaller office space, reduced training requirements and lower permanent staff numbers, companies now have a wider access to talent who might have been too highpriced to maintain on staff full-time.
As good as all this sounds, a word of caution is prudent. Despite the developing gig economy presenting significant opportunities and benefits–it does not come without a number of inherent challenges, and certainly raises questions about workplace protection and what will constitute a ‘good job’ in the future. Current employment policies are geared towards protecting permanent employees –not the transitional workforce. Moving forward, Australia will need to develop policies to clarify how gig workers will be treated, including their rights under the law as momentum builds. Right now, the gig economy looks very much like the future of our workforce. If you’re interested in talking through options for your next hire or to understand more of the benefits of Contracting, eail or phone Tom Key for a discussion: •
1300 057 464
SCLAA Newsletter December 2017