Minimising risks in the gig economy

By Harry Allan

The emerging gig economy promises significant benefits for workers and businesses alike, as long as both parties are aware of the risks and measures are put in place to mitigate them, according to Ignite.

The gig economy refers to an environment in which organisations contract with free agent workers for short-term engagements.

Engagements can be as varied as outsourced graphic design through Freelancer, Uber rides or food delivery through Foodora. The linking of requirements to workers is commonly tech-enabled and is a part of the economy that is growing rapidly. Increasingly, the gig economy includes trained and certified professionals who want increased flexibility in their working lives, such as IT workers, nurses or other professionals.

Peter Wilson is CEO of Ignite, a talent services business that has a division dedicated to providing IT talent on-demand. “The advantages of the gig economy seem obvious for both workers and organisations;  workers work when they want and have the chance to engage in varied assignments whilst organisations can utilise the best skills and talent when needed without the hefty overhead or the burden of managing full-time employees,” he said.

“However, there can be increased risk. Workers can experience a lack of protections such as superannuation and workers’ insurance and employers may get unqualified or culturally unsuitable candidates. So it’s essential to embrace the rise of the gig economy while being mindful of the potential pitfalls.”

So how do organisations mitigate risk without losing the most critical aspect of the gig economy, which is the on-demand access to work or talent?

Ignite believes it’s by accompanying the online, automated matching of skill sets to project or job requirements with thorough vetting of talent through online, and in some cases, manual methods and choosing the right sourcing partner who will oversee the work and provide workers with government legislated protections.

For the best chance of successful retention and project completion, the company recommends that organisations ensure their souring partner offers the following with each professional gig:

1. Interviews and/or behavioural assessments to vet skills and style so an organisation knows they’re getting the right fit

2. Performance management using a proven, SaaS-based system so that alignment of resources and standards of work continue to improve the more the platform is utilised

3. Work health safety (WHS) programs so candidates understand their obligations

4. Mandated superannuation and workers’ insurance so workers can enjoy some of the same protections they would receive in a full-time role

Peter Wilson said, “When organisations take the right steps to ensure their professional gigs are sourced and managed properly a world of benefits become available to them through the gig economy.”

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