is the gig economy only for millennials?

Millennials have heard it all. They are allegedly responsible for killing the diamond industry, print media and power lunches. Even American cheese and mayonnaise manufacturers as well as avocado farmers are blaming the Millennials for poor sales. 

In the world of work, Millennials are “killing” permanent employment by choosing gig work. But is it true that the gig economy is gaining popularity only because of Millennials? Or is it merely a coincidental statistic because Millennials happen to make up the majority of the workforce today?

how did the gig economy start?

The concept of gig economy jobs is not new. It was first recorded in the 1800s, when a feudal lord paid people to assemble an army. 

It was only in the 2000s that the gig economy manifested into what it is today, driven by the increasing use of technology. Through software such as shared cloud networks, project management tools and social media, companies are able to build teams of experts made up of permanent staff and professional contractors. The integrated human capital strategy has proven to drive innovation, improve efficiencies and generate long-term cost savings. 

Digital natives such as Millennials and Generation-Z workers are exposed to various technology growing up. They tend to be more adaptable and better able to thrive in the digital economy. These younger generations of workers are also responsible for developing some of the most exciting new technologies that have the potential to change the way we work and interact with each other. 

Presently, there is a very broad definition of who gig workers are. They could be on-demand commercial drivers, actors, account managers and even highly-skilled software developers. In the U.S., one-third of the workers are reportedly working as contractors and a majority of them are Millennials. This percentage is expected to increase to 42% by 2020.

what does the gig economy offer?

The main advantage draw of the gig economy is flexibility. Besides having the freedom to choose what type of projects they want to work on, professional contractors also get to pick the employer they want to work for and even negotiate their preferred contractual period as well. This helps them build a more diverse portfolio and manage their own time to achieve a better work-life balance. 

People have also shared that they feel more fulfilled having a career as a gig worker. They get the opportunity to work with highly attractive employers, acquire new skills along the way and connect with other experts. Attributed to their wide professional network, many contractors are often able to secure their next gig even before their current contract ends, busting the myth of the absence of job security in contract work.  

Whereas a permanent job offers workers a sense of security. People under permanent employment are entitled to a number of employee benefits such as bonuses, annual leave, parental leave, healthcare insurance and even corporate discounts for some subscription services. 

Only permanent employees are considered for job promotions in the organisation as well. As long as they meet their predetermined performance targets, they have the opportunity to hold more prestigious job titles and negotiate for a better remuneration package.

gig generation workforce

is the gig economy for everyone?

Several studies on workers’ motivators found that people take on contract roles very differently at various stages of their life. 

For example, Millennials are proactive in finding contract roles very early in their career, as they are drawn to the flexibility and freedom. They relish the opportunity to work on different projects that can help accelerate their personal and professional development, while retaining the freedom to pursue their personal interests.  

In contrast, Generation-X and Baby Boomer workers are more likely to enter the gig economy because of circumstances outside of their control. A number of them might have left their cushy permanent job due to salary stagnation, or were unfortunate collateral damage of business restructuring. 

Despite the circumstances, some of them eventually fell in love with the flexibility a contracting career offers as they enter a new stage in their life. Not only is time management easier, senior professionals are also able to negotiate for a premium remuneration package as they offer maturity, years of earned working experience and more insightful perspectives.

For example, an experienced corporate financial planner can act as a part-time advisor for start-ups and SMEs. With years of experience and a large professional network under their helm, these advisors can consult companies on how to pitch for additional funds, where to invest and even how to commercialise the product. 

As more companies build a blended workforce to remain agile and responsive to market-determined supply and demand, the gig economy will continue to expand. 

In the near future, companies will be expected to offer equal benefits and opportunities to both their permanent and contract workers, which would encourage more and more people to take on contract roles.

are you curious about a career in the gig economy?

While the technology industry has spearheaded this HR trend of hiring an integrated workforce to drive innovation, many other sectors are following suit after witnessing its successes. 

We see this phenomenon in banking and financial services, manufacturing and supply chain, life sciences and even in specialisations such as digital sales and marketing, human resources as well as accounting and finance. 

No matter what stage of your career you are at, there is always an opportunity to explore contract work. Besides having the autonomy that you’ve always wanted, you will also be able to get to work with some of the world’s most innovative companies on pioneering projects that have the potential to change the way we live, work and play. 

Find out what are some of the latest contracting jobs that are available for you right now.