Gig economy is here to stay; let’s make it productive

With the gig economy becoming mainstream, employers have recognised that they need to invest in training gig workers in areas like soft skills, project management, critical thinking, customer service and finance to improve their productivity levels.
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Covid-19 has impacted the lives of everyone. From working to learning remotely to increased dependency on online shopping platforms, our lives are undergoing many a transformations. The need to take precautionary measure like social distancing, curfews, etc., made gig workers, especially those in the essential category as heroes. The scope of employment opportunities for them grew multifold.

The pandemic has also remodeled the way we work. The stress on cash flow owing to the pandemic made businesses to seek the help of “experts” on short-term assignments rather than full-time permanent employees.

The pandemic had opened many a new avenue for talent who preferred to work on projects. Studies show that this trend will continue in some shape and form. The gig economy is here to stay.

In fact, even the government through the Code of Social Security announced the need to extend the social security benefits to gig workers, thereby making this model as an acceptable model of employment.

While the model has been accepted by employers, employee and government, this sector is also not devoid of the skill gaps. For any talent to stay relevant even in this mode of employment will require continuous upskilling.

As per the ASSOCHAM, India’s gig sector is expected to grow to $455 billion by 2024; however, with COVID it has the potential to grow at least twice the previous estimates. All it means is that the need for skilled individuals in the gig economy is increasingly high. But the biggest question is who will skill the gig workers? Will companies hire gig workers since they come with “readymade skills”, or will they hire them and then make investments in their upskilling leading to higher productivity?

The primary onus to upskill will be with gig workers. They will have to make investments in skilling and upskilling themselves so that they can continue to attract assignments consistently. Having said that, if companies want to leverage the advantage or full potential that a gig talent may bring will require investing in them, especially in sharing the knowledge that they have acquired owing to their exposure.

Corporates need to partake and provide training in various skill sets such as critical thinking, communication, project management and finance, which are, indeed, important to manage their assignments and relationships with companies effectively.

Some of the key skill sets that employers should invest in training gig workers are:

Soft skills

In today’s world wherein customers are increasingly making choices based on reviews, perception plays an important role. In fact, in many a new age B2C organisation it is the gig workers who are the first contact for customers and customers build a perception about the brand based on the way these gig workers behave.

Employers would need to train them on the how to address customers, how to speak courteously, the importance of being empathetic, etc., making it imperative for organisations to invest in skilling of even gig workers. Some of the behaviour skills that employers need to focus on are leadership, soft skills, customer service, and delivery skills.

Team management skills

Many a times companies tend to hire gig workers to helm assignments. While they are experts in their domain, they may not have the know-how to manage a team. This lack of knowledge on how to manage a team can be detrimental and can affect the outcome. Hence, it is prudent for companies to include even gig talent whenever they are organising short-term team management skilling programs.

Customer service

As mentioned earlier, in many of the new-age companies gig workers are the face or the first person from the brand that customers touch base with; therefore, it is imperative for companies to train gig workers on the basics of customer service.

Finance management

As many of the gig workers are independent players, they may not have the expertise in managing project finance. An investment in training them on how to manage monetary resources and complete the project will be well appreciated with the talent pool as well as by the eco-system.

Technology enablement

Technology is increasingly being applied to organisations across sectors. Gig workers need to understand their way around technology and how it is used for productivity, governance and outcome delivery.

Businesses have realised that gig workers are reliable when it comes to executing a business plan in a limited time frame. With the increased adoption of digitisation and tools in skilling, it has become extremely easy to impart skilling programs.

Virtual and self-paced learning have made the programs more affordable. Hence, extending the skill training programs to them can also help in building a long lasting bridge with the eco-system.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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