Image of a young man driving a yellow car.

Dispatch from SIA CWS Summit & Collaboration in the Gig Economy: Joshua’s Disruption

Four “people and work” conferences in four cities over two weeks yield an abundance of ideas and insights for those of us at the intersection of people, work, and technology. Rather than an exposé of promising new technologies or trends in people management, I’m opening this message with a single person’s story to suggest a “why” for all that we do. 


Joshua’s disruption: “I’m looking for something more recession-proof.”

On my ride to the airport, I met Joshua. He’s a driver today. His life was disrupted when he was laid off from a mortgage business not long ago in its painful third round. The person delivering the news was bawling, and everyone else was just glad to leave. Layoffs can be tough.  

At length, Joshua chatted with me energetically about being a closer/funder during the real estate boom. He explained the urgency and pace of the work with enthusiasm, specifically documenting and sending the money out for people’s home purchases. Joshua also said he likes the mortgage business, but is looking at something more recession-proof. 

We finished the ride discussing how he’s working to make ends meet with a driving gig, along with a few options for developing IT skills during in-between times.


Listening to and investing in the extended workforce

Joshua’s story exemplifies a finding from our recent
pulse survey of non-employee workers, also known as the contingent or extended workforce. We recently issued a report from this study to provide a snapshot of what matters most to non-employee workers in accepting or ending an assignment in the current environment.  

Most relevant to Joshua’s story, we found that:

  • 45% of contingent workers would consider ending their assignment early due to economic stability concerns.
  • 64% said company stability is very or extremely important when evaluating offers.
  • 47% of workers also said they would consider quitting early for greater professional development.

“People on the front lines of our society like Joshua are essential. Essential for our mobility, essential for our comfort, essential for quickly ramping up workforces to meet emerging market opportunities. “

While we celebrated essential workers in healthcare, logistics, public safety, hospitality, and more during the worst days of the pandemic, I wonder if our perspective has shifted as we return to “normal.” 
Perhaps more importantly, I wonder if we are still willing to invest in essential yet extended workers like Joshua.  Sure, we have to maintain financial discipline in the face of economic downturns. Yes, sometimes layoffs are unavoidable. But have we started to behave like investors instead of buyers when it comes to our workforces? 

Fortunately, there are free or low-cost options available for people like Joshua to build skills that will keep him employable over time. He’s a motivated, personable professional and I’m sure he will take advantage of what resources come his way.


Human-centered technology for good

Of course, there was technological disruption on display at the CWS/gig events in Dallas this month. From Flextrack’s platform-as-a-service redefining extended workforce management to Sense’s AI-driven, high-volume candidate experience and engagement solution plus many more. These technologies provide an opportunity to transform how businesses manage their non-employee workforces in a way that’s never been seen before. This opportunity is at least as large as the one we’re going through with full-time equivalent workforces. 

My hope is that as we continue to innovate and disrupt our businesses, we double down on cultivating a healthy, stable extended workforce for people like Joshua. 

Jeff Mike

Jeff Mike

Head of Insights and Impact, Flextrack

Jeff Mike works closely with HR, Procurement and IT leaders to design extended workforce ecosystems that fuel and future-proof enterprise talent strategies. Jeff brings over 15 years of experience leading HR functions, along with five years leading global HR- and workforce-related research, to combine the best thought leadership, business practices, and platform technology into purpose-built solutions.

Jeff Mike