Preparing the gig workforce for the future
The transformation of the gig economy from an ancillary human resource segment to an integral cog in any organization’s workforce has re-shaped the way organizations approach skilling. Most large organizations that employ a significant number of gig workers have recognized the need for creating operational efficiencies through skilling. The onus for HR teams has shifted from hiring in numbers to hiring the right candidate with the correct skillset. Moreover, L&D teams have had to shift their focus from just induction & onboarding training to improving productivity of their employees.
While the gig workers are in demand as they bring in “relevant” skill sets to the table with no additional costs, their up-skilling & new skilling is an area left aside by most. Let’s understand the skills required for gig workers across sectors and how up-skilling can help build a formidable gig workforce:
- Technology skills: Technology is increasingly being applied to organizations across sectors. Gig workers need to understand their way around technology and how it is used for productivity, governance and outcome delivery. For example, the number of delivery people required across the country went up multi-fold, but so did the requirement of varied skill sets. The adoption of technology across this sector, the primary investment must be made in technology-based skilling. App usage and navigation, and GPS operation are some of the key aspects that gig workers need to be trained on in this sector. Skills relating to artificial intelligence and machine learning are in demand. From an organizational perspective, investing in skilling gig employees in these skills can lead to long-term operational efficiencies. Unlike other sectors, gig workers in the IT sector are more likely to self-skill as well. Virtual skilling programs have made it extremely easy to impart new skills, and organizations have no excuse. Another important skill for IT professionals is the ability to effectively manage time and projects. L&D teams should impart project management knowledge across all levels of the enterprise to ensure greater productivity.
- Soft skills: In today’s world wherein customers are increasingly making choices based on reviews, perception plays an important role. In fact, in many a new age B2C organization it is the gig workers who are the first contact for customers and customers build a perception about the brand based on the way these gig workers behave. Employers would need to train them on the how to address customers, how to speak courteously, the importance of being empathetic etc. making it imperative for organizations to invest in skilling of even gig workers. Some of the behavior skills that employers need to focus on are leadership, soft-skills and customer service.
- Customer service skills: Good customer service is a revenue generator and it gives customers a complete cohesive experience that aligns with an organization’s purpose. Many gig workers are now deployed in customer service roles. Hence it is imperative for companies in training gig workers on the basics of customer service such as Persuasion Communication, Empathy, and Negotiation Skills etc.
- Project Management skills: Project management is one of the key skill set required by gig workers. L&D teams need to empower gig workers with project management tools and related skills such that the project is productive and has the required outcome. Without project management skills, gig workers will find it very difficult to manoeuvre their way.
- Other skills: Virtual and remote working has become the norm in the past year, however, the gig economy has always revolved around remote working. In such an environment, people and perception management take on significant importance. L&D teams are now creating learning and skilling modules around people management and leadership management. In any sector, remote working can lead to friction, and skilling workshops are crucial to bridge this perception gap. In the same scenario, empathy and emotional intelligence skills are also crucial from both an organizational and individual perspective. EQ workshops that include both middle managers and freelance employees will encourage collaboration and a sense of oneness.
Creating a viable and sustainable gig workforce requires a significant amount of time and investment. 2020 has been a year of change and organizations that embrace an agile and skill-based approach are likely to create greater operational efficiencies and higher productivity in the new age of 2021 and beyond.