New Delhi: The choices that millennials and Generation Z make are disrupting both society and business. And thanks to such choices, the gig economy—in which people have flexible or contract work with one or more firms—is becoming a growing market.

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, both these cohorts admit that freelance work appeals to them more than full-time jobs. Eighty-four per cent of millennials and 81% of Gen Z’ers surveyed said they would consider joining the gig economy. However, for India, this figure is higher as 94% millennials and Gen Z say they would consider joining the gig economy. The millennials included in the study (covering 42 countries including India) were born between January 1983 and December 1994. The Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2002. In India, 300 millennials and 300 Gen Z respondents were surveyed.

Overall, the gig economy appeals to four in five millennials and Gen Z’ers, the report said. Only 6% of the millennials said they have chosen to be part of the gig economy instead of working full time but 50% said they would consider it, and 61% would take gig assignments to supplement existing employment.

Those who said they would consider joining the gig economy enumerate several reasons for doing so—a chance to earn more money (58%), flexible work hours (41%), or a better work-life balance (37%). However, those who said they won’t join the gig economy counted unpredictable income and hours as the reasons (39% and 30%, respectively).

(Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint)
(Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint)

According to the survey, almost half the millennials believe gig workers can earn as much as those in full-time jobs, and the same number think gig workers have a better work-life balance. But 51% said the unpredictability would be stressful. To cater to millennials, more firms are now offering flexible working arrangements and other features designed to mimic what appeals to those considering a gig existence.

Chandrika Pasricha, CEO and founder of Flexing It, a platform that helps organizations access and work with independent consultants, said that increasingly companies are looking for freelance workers. “For starters, they may be needing specific skills but which they do not need all the time. So companies are hiring strategists and consultants for short durations," she said. “Besides, they are offering flexible career path to talent. Therefore usage of freelancers is increasing."

Pasricha said that while the millennials are driving the trend of gig-economy, mid-tenure professionals as well as those close to retirement are also joining in. “While millennials are certainly one of the key segments driving growth in the professional gig economy in India, we also see many other segments of freelancers, for instance ‘Corporate Freelancers’ who turn to independent work after 10-15+ years in industry, ‘Entrepreneur freelancers’ who take on projects for additional income and to expand networks while they build their venture and Young Parents who are seeking flexibility"

However, she added that women are under-leveraging this opportunity. Globally, more women (60%) are part of the gig economy than India. “There are only 30%-35% women on the Flexing It platform," she said.

The growth in gig economy in India is easy to explain. The emergence of a highly connected, mobile workforce is driving the trend as are the start-ups that are the early adopters. Now even the multinational companies and large enterprises are adopting the concept, said Pasricha.

According to a white paper on professional gig economy by Flexing It, earlier freelancing work was associated with design and creative. However, the nature of freelance work has evolved and new segments of freelancing have emerged. As per a Flexing It survey, 70% of freelancers were from core management functions. It added that the supporting eco-system is flourishing with growth of freelance platforms, new regulations for freelancers and adoption across organizations. The white paper said that the gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $ 20-30 billion by 2025.

According to the Deloitte survey, of the millennials it surveyed, 49% said that if they had a choice, they would quit their job in two years. This is higher than the 38% in Deloitte’s 2017 report.

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