What workers want: Why talent are opting into the professional gig economy

Werkling recently surveyed their talent community to explore their reasons for working on-demand (ie as a freelancer, independent consultant or professional gig worker) and understand their future career plans. This is what we learnt.


1. Flexibility first


The freedom and flexibility afforded by working on-demand is the most common reason that people moved away from the traditional employee-employer work model.


This flexibility is more than just where the work takes place but how and when the work happens.


The autonomy to select the work that they deliver was another important factor. Talent value the ability to select interesting work in interesting organisations, as well as the ability to select work that plays to their strengths and aligns to their values.





2. It's more than family commitments


On-demand talent design their work and their life as one, with 'life commitments' not limited to outside the traditional work hours, nor 'work commitments' restricted to the 9-5.


Just as many people reported using the flexibility afforded by working on-demand for exercise/sports (30%) as they did for family commitments (30%). An additional 13% used their flexibility for self-care. If we consider exercise/sport as a form of self care, this would make it the most common use of the flexibility that is gained by working on-demand.



3. Working on-demand is an intentional choice


A staggering 90% of surveyed on-demand talent have no plans to return to traditional employment. This is not a cohort who are 'in-between jobs' or trying the professional gig economy out but a talent segment who have made an active choice around how they want to work.


The reluctance to return to traditional employment has significant implications. This is a cohort of experienced professionals who are no longer accessible by traditional recruitment and engagement methods. This is particularly relevant given the talent shortages that will extend well into 2022.


Looking forward, Upwork research suggests that the number of employees considering a transition to on-demand work could be as high as 20%. This would have a significant impact on employment talent pools.



Key take aways for leaders

  • Flex beyond remote: Where organisations do not deliver truly flexible work practices, talent may look to the professional gig economy to find the flexibility they desire.

  • Going gig attrition: Not all of the "Great Resignation" will be talent going from job to job. There will be a portion who are moving from job to gig.

  • Maturing talent strategies: People & Culture and Talent Acquisition teams should seek to understand the on-demand talent 'persona', specifically how to attract, access and engage with them


For more information, please contact hello@werkling.com or book a time to chat here.



Survey details

n = 50 Werkling talent members

October 2021