With the festive season approaching, it is not unusual to see a hiring surge across all industries. But 2023 is seeing a paradigm shift in the world of hiring as gig employment becomes increasingly prevalent among all sectors, especially e-commerce.

Gig workers have an upper hand compared to regular workers as they offer companies with several advantages including flexibility in scaling their workforce up or down based on project needs or fluctuating workloads along with cost savings.

A report by CIEL Group, a talent solutions provider, says demand for gig workers in white-collar jobs has risen recently and it reveals that 55% of the organisations have opted to hire gig workers for their work. Furthermore, in some cases, the proportion of gig workers has reached as high as 20% of their total workforce, suggesting a huge share of gig workers within these organisations.

Sectors like e-commerce, food tech, logistics, and retail are expected to ramp up the hiring of temporary workers, especially in roles related to delivery, logistics, warehouse, sorting, and packing, as they gear up for the festive rush.

"Clearly, the gig economy seems to be the driving force behind the seasonal scaling of workforces," says Nirupama VG, founder & MD, talent solutions firm.

And it's not just companies that are on the lookout to hire gig workers, individuals are also inclined to pursue gig work. The CIEL, which surveyed more than 400 organisations pan-India across sectors and more than 1200 white collar gig workers, reveals that 38% of gig workers choose such jobs due to 'flexibility' in working on different projects. "The allure of diverse assignments allows gig workers to continuously expand their skill set, gain valuable experience across various industries, and pursue their passion for diverse work opportunities," says the CIEL report.

The imperatives

The gig economy is continuously evolving and has seen 93% growth since Jan 2023 in the white-collar space as of July 2023. As per reports, 40% of companies are facing talent shortages for emerging skills.

"The emerging demand for certain niche skills, and the need to bridge the temporary skill gaps has led to the overall growth of the gig economy,” says Sekhar Garisa, CEO, foundit.

As per a Niti Aayog report titled 'India's Booming Gig and Platform Economy,' the Indian gig workforce is expected to swell to 23.5 million workers by the year 2029-30, which is almost a 200% jump from the current 7.7 million.

However, it's important to understand the reasons behind the sudden uptick, both from companies’ side as well as from the workers’ perspective.

As festivities inch closer, companies, especially in e-commerce and logistics, brace for an explosion in orders. Hiring gig workers allows these companies to efficiently navigate this temporary demand spike.

Nirupama notes that cost savings also play a crucial role. "Employing gig workers facilitates companies to bypass costs associated with permanent employees, such as benefits and long-term commitments."

On the other hand, workers look at the festive season as an opportunity for lucrative endeavours. Many seek roles during this period for the prospect of earning a higher income in a short span.

"The temporary nature of these jobs provides flexibility, allowing workers to choose assignments based on their convenience and availability," adds Nirupama.

However, it is essential to underscore that being a part of the gig economy is an uphill battle in itself. The uncertain nature of their employment that comes with unstable income, lack of stability and predictability and fluctuating work hours are some significant challenges that the workers face. Moreover, most gig workers do not have access to essential benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave.

Nirupama says that while the landscape provides autonomy, the absence of a concrete employment relationship can sometimes lead to discrepancies in roles and expectations. "It's crucial to navigate this space with awareness," she suggests.

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