More than a quarter of European HR directors believe the majority of their workforces will be employed on a “gig economy” basis, according to a study by a major employee benefits consultancy.
Aon has compiled a report which shows that workforces could be made up of 51-75% of gig workers in five years’ time, while 18% of UK HR directors believe 75% or more of their workforce will be made up of contractors in five years’ time.
Employee benefit provision will prove crucial during this transition, the research shows, with 94% of HR bosses suggesting that health and benefits packages would improve gig worker recruitment. A similar number (93%) believe it would help with engagement, while similarly high numbers believe they would help with productivity (88%) and retention (95%).
Aon conducted 500 interviews with three groups of people for the report, including 200 HR directors, 150 B2B/white collar gig workers and 150 B2C/blue collar gig workers.
They were interviewed from across the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and France.
The report concluded that alongside the more traditional B2B gig workers, there is an emergence of B2C gig workers, who connect customers to products and services. Examples include Amazon, Deliveroo and Airbnb.
But the report also suggests that gig working is not a “simple win-win”.
Aon said it appears that there is an increasing business reliance on gig workers to help to stay lean and responsive, yet 54% of gig workers are worried for their financial future, 67% would feel more positive towards the organisation if benefits were in place, while just 31% are offered benefits within their contract.
The report also found that the tech sector has the most acute competition for gig workers, while gig working is not a “temporary solution”.
Matthew Lawrence, Chief Broking Officer, Health Solutions, EMEA, of Aon, said that while the gig economy is not new, but events have been driving its growth over the past decade – including a global “talent crunch”, an ideological shift towards a greater work/life balance and the need for an on-demand workforce.
He said: “Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear to see why the gig economy has disrupted traditional workforce models and will continue to transform future labour markets
“In particular, the pandemic exposes a potential vulnerability of those working in the gig economy. Many people are curious to see if this crisis will accelerate potential legislation affording gig workers more labour rights and protections or whether the autonomy and flexibility it offers becomes less appealing for workers as the anticipated economic contraction takes effect.
“However, this way of working may become more appealing for employers looking to hire the talent needed to transform and innovate. It offers employers the ability to keep the workers they specifically need, at a specific time.”
Access the full Gig Economy report here.