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Talent Mobility and the Gig Economy 02.2.2021 | Jennifer Connell

mobility gig economy

The “gig economy” — a labor pool characterized by non-traditional, short-term working relationships, typically independent in nature (think Uber or freelancers) — became a hot topic once again in 2020, as this on-demand workforce filled the need for delivery services during the pandemic.

But this demographic became part of the workforce mobility vocabulary several years ago as companies began to relocate contract workers to address specific challenges.

Today, there are a number of factors accelerating the trend toward gig workers:

• Cost control

• The ability to address short-term projects

• The chance to assess employee skills prior to offering full employment

• Filling talent gaps in specific locations

While the verdict is still out on the pros and cons for both employees and organizations, it is clear that there does seem to be a growing trend toward this type of work. What is the impact? In our global talent mobility world, the gig economy offers many benefits, with organizations able to access a broader pool of high quality talent to fill vital roles, while incurring minimal mobility costs.

However, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. One of the biggest concerns with providing mobility benefits to gig workers is compliance risk brought on by tax, legal and HR considerations. Cost savings and low barriers to entry may be challenged if regulations around contract employment are established to protect all workers, regardless of employment status, and companies provide benefits to gig workers.

While gig workers can address immediate skills gaps, let’s not forget that this group is often less engaged and can walk out the door into a better opportunity at any time, potentially jeopardizing an organization’s long-term succession plan and growth initiatives. Without the collaboration that comes from a fully engaged and cohesive team, innovation can also plateau.

If a gig workforce is well suited to your industry, it’s worth considering with adequate planning. Just be sure to minimize your risk by working closely with your RMC and in-house tax and legal experts as each country and individual case will vary.

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Written by Jennifer Connell

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Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Vice President of Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and is a recipient of Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award. She has spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America and written for mobility- and HR-themed blogs and magazines worldwide.

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