What’s the impact of the ‘gig economy’ on Recruitment Departments?



What's the impact of the gig economy on Recruitment Departments? 11th October 2016

In an earlier article by Karen Field (CEO, Curo Talent) we discussed the question “What is the gig economy?”. Now we will examine gig economy recruitment – is it friend or foe for in-house recruiters.

The gig economy relies on ‘independent’ workers, and there has been an increase in the number of self-employed people in the UK, steadily rising to 15% of the workforce*.

The figures are boosted by the ease of obtaining gigs via digital work platforms such as PeoplePerHour.com, and by the demand for flexible workers from digital start-ups such as Uber and Deliveroo.

The impact of this new model on recruitment departments is threefold; changes to employment laws, changes to the structure of the workforce and changes to the complexity of recruitment.

Digital work platforms and gig candidates add yet another layer of complexity to recruitment models

Changes to employment laws

Current employment laws were not written for the new gig economy, and as the number of gig workers grows so their voice becomes louder. Recent demonstrations by Uber and Deliveroo gig workers have made the headlines, it’s only a matter of time before MPs decide to listen to this body of voters.

So what could be the changes? Well, Theresa May has now appointed Matthew Taylor, an ex-head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, to review legal rights for those people working in the gig economy. Whatever the outcome, the laws need to be monitored as the distinction between workers, employees and the self-employed become blurred.

Changes to the structure of the workforce

Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) are choosing more flexible working arrangements, wanting a better work:life balance. The gig economy is ideally suited to them. The top talent can earn more money as a self-employed worker than a permanent member of staff.

The result could be that in order to attract the creme de la creme you need to incorporate gig workers into your resourcing model. Failure to prepare for this could mean your competitors get the best experts, and in fields such as technology and IT, that could give them a competitive edge.

Changes to the complexity of recruitment

The new digital work platforms (PeoplePerHour, UpWork, ClickWorker, etc) accelerate the process of recruitment and the volume of candidates. This does have advantages, but also disadvantages. Too much choice can be a blessing and a curse.

For highly technical contract vacancies, there is still a requirement for someone to test the applicant’s credibility and skills. Technical jobs require technical recruiters. Even on short-term contracts, cultural fit is still important – after all, they have to work as part of a team. Digital work platforms cannot thoroughly test applicants or judge if they will upset team harmony.

Digital work platforms and gig candidates add yet another layer of complexity to recruitment models. There will be a need for more technical recruiters in the future (not less) to navigate the best course and attract top talent before competitors snap them up.

This post is part of a series about the gig economy and its impact on IT talent acquisition. Further posts will examine the questions ‘What’s the impact of the gig economy on IT contractors?’ and ‘What’s the impact of the gig economy on IT departments?’.


* Office of National Statistics (May-July 2009) total employed in the UK was 29m, of which 13% were self-employed. In May-July 2016 the total employed was 31.7m, of which 15% were self-employed.

Graham Smith

Author: Graham Smith

An award-winning, Marketing Director with over 25 years’ experience in direct marketing (including digital marketing, social media, marketing automation and direct mail)… the full B2B marketing mix.
A qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Institute of Direct & Digital Marketing (IDM), Graham is also part of the ‘GDPR Working Party’ at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and was a Council member at the DMA for 3 years.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

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