The benefits of gig work go beyond a non-traditional work schedule. Gig economy apps like Fiverr and Upwork, and gig economy companies like Uber and AirBnB have completely transformed the way people plan their careers. But another side effect of gig work and flexible contracts is that they can positively impact workforce diversity.
Contingent workforce = diverse workforce
While there are many tips and tricks to get different perspectives on board, flexible working conditions are a great way to attract diverse talent. People from various backgrounds, cultures, and demographics often seek opportunities that align with their skills and preferences.
Traditional hiring processes are often affected by unconscious biases. This may lead to discrimination against certain groups. Gig work, on the other hand, often relies on merit-based selection. Here the candidates are hired based on their skills, experience, and performance, rather than demographic factors. This helps reduce hiring biases and fosters a more inclusive work environment.
Gig workers are also often compensated based on completed projects or hours worked, aligning costs directly with output and productivity.
Flexible contracts and gig work can be particularly appealing to individuals who may face barriers in traditional employment. This is common with working parents, individuals with disabilities, or those from minority groups. The ability to work remotely or set their own schedules can make it easier for them to contribute their skills.
Benefits of a diverse workforce
By hiring individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, companies can foster diversity within their workforce. This diversity can lead to more innovative ideas, improved problem-solving, and a better understanding of different customer segments.
Individuals who have navigated life changes often possess adaptability and resilience. They may have learned to juggle multiple responsibilities and adapt to new situations. They can bounce back from challenges, a valuable trait in the workplace.
A diverse workforce can better understand and connect with a broad customer base. Having employees from various demographics can enable the company to relate to and address the needs of different customer segments effectively.
Companies that embrace diversity and provide opportunities for various demographics are often more attractive to job seekers. This can help the company source top talent from a broader talent pool. Having more choices results in lower recruitment expenses like cost per hire – a most important aspect with short-term contracts where
Diverse teams tend to approach problem-solving from multiple angles, increasing the likelihood of finding comprehensive solutions. This can lead to better decision-making and more effective strategies.
Groups most likely to participate in the gig economy
Mothers (and Fathers too!)
For Becky Willis, writer for the site Mom Blog Society, gig work offers great benefits for mothers:
“For moms of all ages, not just those who are young, it means the potential to earn income and leverage your talent, skills, and experience in a career — with the flexibility to be a mom to your children and family,” she states.
New and not-so-new parents may benefit the most from a flexible schedule and remote work. Some of the reasons why mothers and fathers choose to start a freelance career are keeping a career active, being closer to their children or even testing being a full-time stay at home parent (a career on its own right).
The golden years are getting longer thanks to the advancements in science and technology. This gives seniors and retirees the choice to go back to the workforce on their own terms. Saskia Sickinger, intern researcher at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, states that despite the technological gap seniors are increasingly active in the gig economy:
“Seniors are the second largest group after millennials and they represent the demographic that is increasing at the fastest pace. Increasingly, available data shows more and more seniors and retirees working part-time and independently. Within the gig economy, seniors are increasingly flocking to online and app-based platforms,” she writes.
With a career now behind them, seniors can offer their proven know-how and transferable skills to younger teams. They can also provide insights thanks to their experience, and they are known to have a strong discipline in what they do.
Gen-Z might be new to the job market, but they are the first digital native workers. Being young, they are willing to explore different career paths while also balancing their social lives and schoolwork. When Liz Segran—now senior writer for Fast Company—started her career in the midst of the 2009 recession, she worked a series of internships and temp jobs.
“I felt like I was always hustling. But looking back, I feel fortunate that we now live in a time when employers don’t hold it against us if we hop between jobs early in our careers,” she says.
Having several gigs also allows students to earn more money and avoid debt, which given the current forecast of government-backed retirement funds, can be a way to guarantee their financial freedom in the long run.
People changing careers
There are several reasons why people decide to change careers later in life. Regardless of the reason, before trading a workplace for another, it is better to test the waters with a series of jobs within the new industry. Working gigs part-time also reduces the risk that changing a career entails while also providing extra income for when the switch finally takes place.
For budding entrepreneurs and potential freelancers, gig work provides a priceless opportunity to gather market research, network with new people, and tweak their potential products and services. In addition, temp jobs require workers to acquire business skills and be encouraged to do more self-training as a 2019 freelancing report made by the Freelancers Union and Upwork describes:
“81% of freelancers find freelance business skills important to their work and would like additional training. The top three training areas they would like are: 1) networking 2) new skills in their field and 3) how to start and grow a freelance career.” the report states.
People re-entering the workforce
Health issues, care of relatives, and extended travel might require people to put their career on hold. Gig jobs can help these people to re-enter the workforce slowly or to keep their career active while other issues are the top priority.
A paper published in Harvard Business Review points out that the variety of gigs available has grown over the past years:
“Some of this growth reflects the emergence of ride-hailing and task-oriented service platforms, but a recent report by McKinsey found that knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy,” the authors explain.
People looking for extra income
Having an extra paycheck can help many families to avoid credit cards and payday loans. A growing number of professionals do gig work instead of having a second job. But why? It turns out that gig work is more time-flexible compared to part-time positions, a quality that money-saving expert Kevin Ha appreciates::
“One of the things I enjoy about the current state of the side hustling world is just how easy it is to fit various side hustles into your day-to-day life,” he says.
Gig income is not linked to a certain calendar day (no more dreading the end of the month!), and payment can even be instant in some cases. Most gig portals provide flex payments, giving the workers a choice of doing more or less hours depending on their current availability. And with the additional income, a loan calculator can soon classify them eligible for better financing.
Get started, get flexible!
As you can see, incorporating gig work for your company your has a lot of benefits to offer. Learn more from our in-depth article on how to get started: Contingent staffing – the ultimate guide and how to get started.
Don’t yet believe this is a thing? Check out the HBR podcast “Why Companies and Skilled Workers Are Turning to On-Demand Work” with Joseph Fuller, professor at Harvard Business School, and Allison Bailey, senior partner at Boston Consulting Group.