Careers

The emerging face of employment

The gig economy is nascent in India, but growing at a steady pace; and the time may just be right for professionals to prepare themselves for it

The gig economy is sometimes reduced to convenient terms — “project-based work” or “freelance employment”. These terms are however too narrow in focus to do the concept any justice.

Gig economy suggests a paradigm shift in how organisations and their teams work.

Born in the cradle of technology, flexibility is its key defining feature, as it allows employers the option of cobbling together a distributed time-bound team, with the best talent from different parts of the world. For the employee, there is the advantage of moving quickly new pastures.

How developed is the gig economy in India?

Though nascent in India, it is growing at a steady pace. The Global Gig Economy Index report — drawn from a sample of three lakh freelancers, service providers and outsourcing professionals in the Payoneer network — has ranked India among the top 10 countries.

The report says there has been an increase in freelancers in India from 11% in the third quarter of 2018 to 52% in the second quarter of 2019, thanks to various initiatives including Startup India and Skill India.

Freelancing is said to be effective in improving the rate of participation from women in India’s labour-force.

From a talent-acquisition point of view, gig workers supplement skills provided by the existing workforce, reduce hiring costs and can be a viable solution in filling temporary vacancies in teams.

On the disadvantages side, though the gig economy has been growing in India, it is largely unregulated, which means there are no rules on how much a worker should be paid, how many hours they can work every day, on an average; and the social benefits they are entitled to.

Who can regulate the gig economy?

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has been working on a “Social Security Code” to ensure labour benefits for gig-economy workers.

“Currently, these workers are not covered under health, ESI, PF or any other scheme as gig economy is not yet defined as a way of life,” says Neeti Sharma, senior vice-president, TeamLease Services, a staffing company that provides human resource services to various industries.

Regulation will help all stakeholders.

“Regulation will ensure fairness as well as accountability,” says Neeti, adding that when it is formalised, gig economy will draw more professionals.

How does one operate in the gig economy?

Networking is essential to getting good assignments. It is important to get the terms of the agreement right before signing up for a project. Freelancers should read through the agreement carefully, and look for clauses about payment timeliness, the time period and deliverables. A recent research by Flexing It, a platform for ‘on demand’ business consultants, says that some of the best practices followed by companies to develop a strong “Freelancer Value Proposition” include creating a technology-based solution, either internally or in partnership with a leading platform, to gain access to a trusted talent pool; and having a dedicated HR resource team to manage external talent; and having an on-boarding structure. With regard to compensation, the research says, more than 25-30% premium is paid as compensation. Some forward-looking companies also offer some benefits to gig workers.

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‘The journey is not free of obstacles’

Working as a freelancer for over two years now, I have enjoyed the freedom that comes with being one’s own boss. However, the journey has not been obstacle-free.

I enrolled with a recruitment company that serves as a bridge between companies and women professionals in tech, sales and marketing. My first assignment there was to develop Apps for a client.

It was a four-month project and the assignment required me to work 12 hours at a stretch every day, as the client had tight deadlines to meet. You cannot back off as you have signed an agreement and it would affect your future gig projects. It was taxing, but I was paid well and on time, every 15 days, so it kept me going.

Despite years of experience, I have to go through rounds of interview to get a project, which means I have to be updated on the latest trends in my field. Sometimes, it takes months to land a project. There are instances when clients backed off even after making an offer.

Joining a new gig-project job platform may mean you have to build your credibility all over again, and till you do so, it is difficult to get projects.

Garimella Durga Malleswari

App developer

‘Spell out the requirements clearly’

Finding a good gig worker depends on how well you have spelt your requirements on the freelancing portal. We follow a strict check-list which includes drafting the skills required for the job, and identifying those who will be in the panel to hire the gig worker. For certain roles, the potential candidate is given a task before placing them in the short-list. We recruit gig workers for roles relating to technology, copy writing and visual designing almost every month and one of the main challenges we face is getting the worker to understand our expectations. For example, when we connect with the prospective hire we expect them to ask questions to clarify their role and our requirements.

We expect the gig worker to communicate proactively if they miss a deadline. We don’t always go with the rating; as many a time, we have found someone to be efficient though they have just started out. Women on a career comeback, after a break, usually make a good hire, as they are keen on proving themselves again.

Sudarshan Ravi

Founder and CEO, RippleHire

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 7:06:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/the-emerging-face-of-employment/article30623884.ece

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