Watch: India Inc should start investing in gig value propositions

Watch: India Inc should start investing in gig value propositions

Several months after a devastating COVID-19 second wave that devastated lives and livelihoods, from a pandemic perspective, India has finally stepped into the winter of hope. In corporate boardrooms and industry forums, there is now renewed interest in hiring, nurturing and retaining the best talent the market has to offer. In other words – interest in Employee Value Proposition (EVP). With the fight for talent intensifying, recruiters across organizations are vying with each other to convert The Great Attrition of our times into Great Retention. While this renewed focus on EVP is welcome, company leaders would be well advised to start betting on its much-neglected sibling—the gig value proposition, or GVP, too. One of the many changes brought about by the pandemic in the workplace is the way organizations hire and work with gig (compared to full-time) workers. By all indications, companies will likely see a shift from hiring full-time employees on a wholesale scale to hiring on-demand, contract or freelance workers – a change that could become the new norm.
A quick look at some recent estimates strengthens this hypothesis. In January 2021, the Economic Survey of India 2020-21 stated that India has become one of the largest markets for flexi-staffing in the world due to the widespread adoption of online retailing and e-commerce. Later in the summer, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) projected that India’s gig economy would grow at a compound annual rate of 17%, reaching $455 billion by 2023. And according to another report published by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, India’s gig economy is poised to triple in the next 3-4 years, creating 8 to 24 million jobs in the non-farm sector. will reach The total number of gig jobs can grow to 90 million in 8-10 years, contributing to 1.25% of the country’s GDP over this long period. As an important point of comparison, in March 2021, the organized IT-BPM sector in India employed around 4.5 million professionals.

Creating an engaging GVP presents an interesting creative challenge. Resuming normal EVP offerings would be an obvious mistake. That’s because the work methods that make an organization a sought-after employer for full-time employees may not be as attractive to gig workers. Training interventions, offsite retreats and other initiatives clubbed under “employee engagement” often have an organizational focus, and may not be immediately compelling to gig workers – or at least, in need of rethinking. Is. From PF, HRA and LTA to gratuity and medical insurance for the family, gig workers are not entitled to financial benefits that are of course par for the full time employees. Meaningful CSR projects and a commitment to a green footprint may be attractive to potential full-time employees, but do they necessarily hold equal importance to a freelancer working on 6-month assignments? A social media strategy that projects the company in a favorable light is imperative, but it brings us back to the right question – what kind of social media posts are most likely to attract the best gig talent?

By definition, the components of any compelling GVP will need to evolve as the workplace continues to disrupt itself. But the starting point should be a genuine commitment on the part of employers and managers to dedicate time to such a project, not just cutting corners. Here are some areas where they want to focus their energy.
Better work-life integration: In the new Work From Anywhere (WFA) mode of operating businesses, employees see their normal working hours stretched, often crammed into the weekend, and forced to live with it. However, gig workers are enthusiastically possessive about their independence, and especially their “me time.” While deadlines and deliverables remain unchanged, leaders and managers must find new ways to keep freelancers engaged. Flexible working hours, allowing adequate breaks during the day, emphasis on productivity and the results of hours worked, are some of its components. In our time of pandemic, there has been a change in the traditional micro management style of working. Managers now demand multiple check-in calls and updates during the day – but for any GVP to be effective, this approach will need to take a permanent backseat.

Co-creation of value: A widespread complaint against gig workers globally, compared to full-time workers, is that they lack commitment, as well as what organizations refer to as “employee loyalty.” But the logic works both ways. A purely piecemeal, transactional attitude of employers regarding gig workers only serves to perpetuate apathy on the part of the latter. The equation turns to the benefit of both parties when the employer’s attitude shifts to one that appreciates the co-creation of value through gig work. Work practices that encourage crowdsourcing of ideas, innovate, and recognize the power of individual contribution are all steps in the right direction. Gig workers, even if working for a short time, are more likely to engage in their work when they know their individual contributions are appreciated and when they feel part of a larger, creative process. If so, they experience a sense of shared pride.

Redefining talent fitness: Presently, corporates have started paying a lot of attention to the recruitment process, especially the adoption of AI and online assessments to speed up and streamline the screening process and assist in the selection of the right candidate. The same imperative applies to hiring the right gig talent and retaining their services on future assignments. Contrary to the easy, fit-to-order assumption about selecting gig talent, there is a cost associated with hiring freelancers who are a good fit, and based on their performance, earmark them for future assignments. This cost factor becomes more important over time, as recruitment of gig workers accelerates, in turn increasing the need for mechanisms to detect gig fitment. Organizations can first arrive at a competency matrix, based on the skills and characteristics of gig workers required for the assignment, and deploy curated online assessments to evaluate candidates for roles.

Incorporating “Gignes” into the Culture: Organizational culture is much more than the vision and mission statements published on a website. It spans an array of shared values, attitudes and work practices to the working conditions and environment, to policies, procedures, support, recognition and opportunities that an organization offers to its people. As gig hires grow, the culture needs to be calibrated to take them into account. Incorporating modalities of working with freelancers is a good place to start. The provision of rewarding high-performing gig workers on par with employees can be an attractive proposition. Another might be to offer discounts for corporate memberships and services that range from cab fares to restaurants, travel and hospitality, privileges that senior full-time employees are entitled to. An offer like this, reserved for experienced gig workers with specialized skills, will give those professionals a clear indication of the value of their work in the eyes of the organization.

The aspects discussed above are far from exhaustive. But it is hoped that they will provide some context and food for thought for company leaders as they work to factor in the gig factor into business plans and their overall plan of operations.

Avik Chanda is the CEO-Founder of NUVAH ELINT LLP, Thought Leader and bestselling author of “From Command to Empathy: Using EQ in the Age of Disruption”.

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