TaskRabbit. Lyft. Uber. With more workers taking on short-term, on-demand, and freelance work, much buzz has been made around the gig economy over the past few years: most millennials love gigging, most of us be gigging in the next five years, how it will fit in the future of work, and more.
Yes, the gig economy has “turned millions of Americans into contractors,” and it has also provided opportunities for workers to grow and develop different skills. While the gig economy is growing, there are some common myths around its growth and how that will affect the future of work.
We Gig You Not: Myths of the Gig Economy
Despite what many may think, the entire generation of millennials doesn’t love gigging—just like they don’t all love avocado toast or ruining everything. Only 24 percent of millennials report earning money as a gigger, and 60 percent aren’t involved in the gig economy at all. This reflects an economy that offers more full-time employment opportunities, and suggests that millennials want steady jobs with clear career paths and benefits.
From Gigs to Bigwigs
This doesn’t mean that gig work is unfulfilling—another myth about the gig economy. Some may believe gig jobs don’t lead anywhere. With the job market tighter than ever, gig workers have valuable skills that companies are struggling to find in the available talent pool. In fact, gig workers can help mature companies grow and support startups with their talent needs, with employers across every industry using gig workers to help fill skill gaps.
Surprisingly, the variety of options is also beneficial to baby boomers and Gen Xers, who didn’t grow up with so many choices, and many find working gig jobs helpful in balancing career and family needs.
I Gig, You Gig, We all Gig
There’s a lot of talk around how quickly the gig economy will grow and how much it will expand. While estimates from Cornell and the Aspen Institute indicate between 25 - 30 percent of the workforce currently engages in the gig economy in some capacity and that number will grow, only about 10 percent use gig work for their full-time jobs. “On-demand services where you get your next gig from an app like Lyft or Task Rabbit represent an even smaller percentage of gig workers,” with other workers finding more traditional gigs without being “digitally summoned.”
Each generation also struggles with different challenges as gig workers: boomers are concerned with the lack of benefits, while Gen Xers and millennials fear not being paid for sick leave. While there are ways to alleviate these fears, generational needs in the gig economy affects the number of those who gig full-time.
The gig economy will certainly continue to grow, and will be closely tied with how organizations evolve in the future of work, but is much more nuanced than simply becoming a dominating part of the workforce.
For more on different generations in the workplace, see our infographic on generational differences in workplace loyalty.