What does a gig worker’s mental health condition look like?
The trend of gig working which started 10-12 years ago, has caught on firmly, not just with the younger workforce but also with the senior employees. In fact, a study conducted by Induit stated that by 2020, about 40% of the American population would have switched to become independent workers instead of being associated with just a single organization.
With big companies such as Infosys and Capgemini laying off employees, freelancing seems to be the best bet for employees planning to venture on their own instead of being sacked all of a sudden. But as is the nature of things, even good things beyond a limit can cause harm, so does working as a gig worker. Working as a gig worker with no stability of jobs can prove to be disastrous for people with families to support and can affect their mental health adversely.
The gig economy sure is on a roll over the last 2-3 years with the millennial generation joining the workforce and companies deciding to go digital. This results in less and less need for workplace requirement resulting in people being able to work from anywhere they please. However, doing gigs may not always be a satisfactory and pleasant experience. It can add to the already existing pressure of finding jobs in an economy where most individuals are now opting to go freelancing, reducing the availability of jobs.
Security and Income Worries
While working for an organization can be stressful, the benefit that comes with it is a stability of income. Receiving a paycheck, however low, is a security that an employee feels at the end of the month. As a gig worker or a freelancer, security of job and income does not come guaranteed since you don’t know how long will it take to find the next gig. The stress of finding newer assignments to make up for income and support yourself and the family at the same time can be tiring mentally.
Loss of Self-worth
An employee at an organization is often recognized for their hard work and efforts, making them feel worthy and a part of something big. It boosts their confidence and self-esteem and later their self-worth after being recognized among a crowd at work. In a flipped coin situation of freelancing, it is infrequent that the gig worker is applauded for their efforts towards the job assigned. This can lower their morale, making them wonder if their job was even being noticed, let alone be recognized in front of all. All of this can make them doubt their work and add pressure mentally. A lack of feedback and appraisal can work in demotivating the employee to work further.
Lack of Satisfaction
Although it can be difficult to believe, freelancing can lead to a lack of satisfaction and happiness if they are into something that they hold no interest for. Working as a freelancer in a field that is their strength, assures that that they will have a steady flow of work. However, if they have entered the gig economy without giving it much thought and without creating a rough income structure for themselves, the unsteadiness of the economy can bring in a lack of satisfaction. This surpasses the dissatisfaction that they may have felt while working for a fixed number of hours at a company. Lack of appreciation can disrupt the mental well being of the gig workers, which can then have an effect on all the assignments he takes on.
The stress of unfulfilled expectations
The gig economy when looked at from far can seem to be pleasant and exciting to work in. However, the truth is far from it. The workers most often are never paid as much as they are promised while being assigned for the job. Such situations can add a strain on them mentally because their expectations remain unfulfilled. A report by Earnest said that 40-45% of Uber drivers make less than $100 a month. Stressing over the unmet expectations besides the amount they are making for the month can be tedious to deal with.
Solutions to maintaining good mental health
- Paced up work schedules: As a freelancer, you have control and autonomy to choose your working hours and even the flexibility to choose the jobs that you want to do. But at times, this rush can make you take on more jobs on your plate than you can handle. So make sure that you only take on those assignments that you can complete without affecting your mental health or income or disrupting your personal and professional life balance. This lets you have an excellent work record as well as leaves you with time to unwind with family and friends.
- Meditation & Vacations: Every employee, whether working with an organization or otherwise, needs rejuvenation to feel refreshed and to get back on their feet. At the same time, it is important to take some minutes out of each day for oneself to just meditate and feel at peace. Taking regular vacations also does the trick since a getaway or even a weekend can make one feel refreshed enough to get back to work with a newfound zeal. Allotting a few minutes to meditation and going on vacation are some of the things you can do to lessen the mental strain and find peace and happiness.
- Routines: Gig jobs bring with them instability and the need to look out for new jobs every once in a while. This can bring a shift in the routine which can cause an imbalance between your personal and professional life. The main thing to focus on is to have a routine that is fixed and adheres to a particular timing as well since this will give you time to get back to your personal space. Routines bring in structure, something that is lacking in the gig economy.
The gig economy is thriving now and will be a part of the future, too, since the future is digital and is giving rise to startups every day. As a freelancer, if you bring in routine and follow certain to-do’s while joining the economy, freelancing would prove to be the right job for you. The economy provides workers with the opportunity for more control in their jobs, which may lead to more self-worth, more confidence and less strain on the mind. If freelancers are able to implement the much needed healthy mux of vacation and routine, they will find that self-employment instead of working for an organization, can also have a positive impact on their mental health.