The gig economy of the 21st century encourages workers to switch from regular office work and schedules to project-based work. That’s how the internal gig marketplace concept was born. Simply put, it’s defined as a system that sees organizations offer gigs – projects of different lengths and complexity – to their workforce. Employees can choose projects (gigs) depending on their qualification level, expertise, and skills. Such an approach prevents employee burnout and tackles high turnover rates and lack of engagement.
Cutting-edge companies like Unilever, Shell, and PwC have already gained experience with building their own internal marketplaces and switching to a gig economy. Are you planning on joining them? Then let’s review some other gig economy benefits for businesses and their employees.
Gig economy benefits for employees
In the traditional sense, gig marketplaces represent platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, TaskRabbit, and Lyft. For a long time, they have been associated with short-term, low-qualification jobs. After the pandemic hit, this concept has broken away from such a narrow definition. Companies have been adapting the gig marketplace model to cope with the uncertain future of work, and build a workspace where everyone is engaged.
Here’s how your employees could potentially benefit from switching to a gig economy marketplace:
1. Learning by doing
The idea of a gig marketplace is to provide a platform for employees where they can apply their skills to real-life projects. Thus, a gig marketplace encourages a “learning by doing” paradigm. In this paradigm, employees not only contribute their skills and expertise to a gig (project), but also put them into practice and gain hands-on experience.
Let’s say a tech company decides to employ content marketing to boost sales, generate leads, and raise brand awareness. Instead of hiring freelance copywriters for this project, a company can instead decide to bring in their internal talents: software developers and UX designers with strong writing skills. Even though content writing isn’t their key competency, these employees get a chance to polish their skills and bring fresh ideas to the content marketing process.
As a result, both sides win. A business gets expert content written by professionals, while employees get practical skills and earn a new level of expertise.
2. Opportunity to gain new skills
Lou Tedrick, VP of Global Learning & Development at Verizon, emphasizes the importance of practical experience in upskilling and reskilling: “When a large group of employees needs to be deployed into new roles, first evaluate their knowledge, capabilities, and skills. If possible, give them options that are both a good fit for their skill sets and what best serves the business. Once they choose a career path, then focus learning programs on closing the skills gaps required for the new role.”
That being said, not all organizations have the luxury of switching their employees back and forth to new roles and positions. An internal gig marketplace allows organizations to kill two birds with one stone: introduce short-term projects, and engage employees in new roles.
3. Agility and flexibility
A recent study shows that the “jobs for life” concept has outlived its usefulness. Modern workers are constantly re-evaluating their careers and are willing to change their industry or domain at any point. Moreover, they realize the importance of upskilling and reskilling to stay relevant in the global talent market.
A gig marketplace provides workers with much-needed career agility, the ability to work remotely, and, most importantly, complete control of their professional ambitions.
“The current emphasis on worker well-being and leadership empathy also speaks to the opportunity for such systems to reflect both organization and worker interests.” – John Boudreau, professor emeritus of management and organization at USC Marshall Business School
4. Upskilling and reskilling potential
HR professionals started a discussion on upskilling and reskilling soon after the pandemic hit. It was clear the world wouldn’t be the same anymore. Organizations with a robust upskilling potential had better chances to survive in this new and uncertain world.
While 59% of L&D professionals surveyed by LinkedIn make upskilling and reskilling their top priority for 2021, not all employees feel enough commitment and support have been directed to that field.
Research by Udemy reveals that the upskilling journey is only about to begin for many workers: only 38% of global employees received upskilling training in 2020.
Upskilling and reskilling have been a privilege for full-time employees for a while. Today, the gig economy opens a unique opportunity for internal part-time contractors to gain new skills, tap into high-profile jobs, receive employee benefits just as regular workers, and more.
Advantages of switching to a gig economy marketplace for businesses
Businesses benefit from gig work, or project-based assignments, in plenty of ways. The rule of thumb is to treat your gig workers as full-time employees, providing them with all the perks and benefits as usual.
1. Improved talent mobility
Talent mobility, or an employee’s capability to transition between roles, is in an HR spotlight. When a business has robust talent mobility potential, it’s more likely to retain employees, create versatile career opportunities, and save recruiting costs compared to its competitors.
A gig economy marketplace perfectly fits into the talent mobility paradigm. Gigs imply la ow barrier to entry, so companies can access a wide pool of internal candidates and connect skilled talents with matching projects.
“An Opportunity-Minded worker actively connects with others, learns new skills, and seeks out new experiences.”
― Diane Mulcahy, The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want
2. Flexibility in projects and workflows
The new business world requires organizations to be flexible, act quickly, and adapt to external circumstances.
Switching to a gig economy can help businesses cope with uncertainty by offering flexible work paths, an on-demand workforce (since employees act as internal freelancers), and agile project staffing. It facilitates skills-based hiring and helps businesses step away from traditional job descriptions, track records, and formal education.
3. Cost saving
To bring specialists on board, businesses invest considerable time and money on candidate sourcing, screening, and offer acceptance.
An internal gig marketplace allows you to find an experienced specialist much quicker than traditional hiring processes since these workers are already at hand. They’ve already been screened, checked for cultural fit, and passed technical interviews. Engaging an internal workforce for projects saves costs on hiring, onboarding, knowledge transfer, and training.
The pros are clear. Are there any cons of an internal gig marketplace?
Does switching to a gig economy sound too good to be true? The answer is: yes and no. The concept of a gig economy marketplace obviously comes with certain shortcomings that include:
- Compliance with local regulations. Consider your local laws when bringing elements of a gig marketplace to your business model. Let’s take good old Uber as an example. Even though you can use it almost anywhere globally, German legislation banned ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft in 2015 because of a lack of necessary licensing. As a result, the company reached the German market only in four cities through licensed third-party companies.
- Lack of employee support. Employees often react to gig-based models cautiously because they feel like they’re treated differently from full-time employees. Simply put, businesses often treat their gig workers as temporary freelancers. To prevent a lack of trust and buy-in from employees, create equal working conditions, perks and bonuses, a social benefits package, etc.
- Lack of tech support. It takes solid digital and technical support to build your internal talent marketplace and gig system. Think about automated skills matching, project matching, notifications about available gigs, and more. Platforms like smartPeople take a substantial amount of routine work off your shoulders, so you can concentrate on meeting vital business goals.
Read more about best practices to starting your own internal gig marketplace in our blog post.