The gig economy was a term coined in the Great Recession (officially from December 2007 through June 2009) when mass layoffs (about 7% of all jobs) forced many workers to seek a number of part-time jobs in order to make a living. At the same time, a number of platforms, such as Uber (founded 2009), Fiverr (2010), and TaskRabbit (founded 2008) began to offer work when and to the extent the worker was available.
Last month the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on contingent and alternative employment arrangements. This report said that there were 5.9 million workers as of May 2017 who held contingent jobs (they did not know if their work arrangements would continue).
It’s common to talk about freelancers or consultants who work in the gig economy; we know what is meant by these terms. But the government is using a new vocabulary that may be relevant to our businesses.
Here are some important definitions:
- Contingent workers. Those who do not have an implicit or explicit contract for ongoing employment. The term does not include someone expecting to retire or leave for personal reasons. These workers can be employees or self-employed individuals.
- On-call workers. Those who are called to work only as needed, although they can be scheduled to work for several days or weeks in a row. On-call workers have an alternative work arrangement.
- Temporary help agency workers. Those who are paid by the temp agency, regardless of the length of the assignment. Temp workers also have an alternative work arrangement.
- Worker through a contract firm. Those employed by a company that provides their services to others under contract. Usually they are assigned to one customer and work at the customer’s worksite. And these workers are on an alternative work arrangement.
What this means for your business
This is a tight job market, so be sure to know all of your options.
If you’re growing and need more help, you can consider engaging contingent workers or using an alternative work arrangement. For example, if you need help for the holidays, you can hire workers directly (they’d be contingent workers) or go through a temp agency. Interesting to note that Kohl’s already started hiring for the 2018 holiday season.
If you have a special project, you can find a freelancer (directly or through a portal such as Upwork.