Private-sector lender Axis Bank announced in August that it will have a new platform called ‘GIG-A-Opportunities’ that will have flexible talent.
Human resource officials said that there are seven more organisations, two each in the financial services sector and IT/ITeS sector, and one each in the consumer goods, real estate and media/entertainment space that are looking to adopt this model in FY21.
Unlike regular gig roles, the new-age gig opportunities across Indian companies will have similar entry requirements as a regular employee. So, if it is a senior hire, the required work experience would be 10 years and above.
How will this differ from a regular gig? Will the pay be lower? Moneycontrol attempts to answer these questions for you.
What are the new gigs?
The new gig roles aim at attracting people who would otherwise not be open to full-time roles. It could be highly qualified professionals who may not be able to travel to work because of ailing family members, or differently-abled persons who may find it tough to travel.
Similarly, women who have quit their jobs, post maternity or a difficult pregnancy, can continue working from home through these gig roles.
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The idea is also to get a diverse workforce since the new age-gigs are expected to have flexible work timings.
Traditionally, gig roles are considered to be inferior to a full-time job. This is because semi-skilled or unskilled workers are hired for short-term roles based on demand. Some of these include delivery personnel or logistics staff.
However, the new-age gigs could even have a former vice-president working on a short-term project. This effectively means that the educational qualifications and work experience requirements would be the same.
Unlike regular freelance jobs, where one individual works on multiple projects across companies, the new-age gig roles would have non-compete agreements where a professional cannot work in such roles in the same sector or industry.
How do companies benefit?
The new-age gigs would be specialist roles that will last between 6-12 months. After the project or assignment is over, he/she would need to be redeployed to some other job position, or, worse, be laid off.
Regular gigs like the ones seen in the e-commerce space have a possibility of being extended or the person being absorbed as a full-time staff. However, the new-age gigs don’t hold this possibility.
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One reason why the role works well for the individual as well as for the company is that a qualified worker from any part of the world can be hired for new-age gigs without distance acting as a barrier. Travel costs need not be paid since these are virtual roles.
Companies also save costs since the specialist is hired only for a short period. Long-term employee benefits like provident fund, insurance cover and gratuity won’t be available for these positions. The new-age gigs would be 100 percent virtual so physical infrastructure cost for the hire is also saved.
HR experts estimate that compared to less than 3 percent currently, India Inc would have close to 10-15 percent working on new-age gigs in the next five years. Customer-facing roles and shop-floor positions, however, won’t be on a gig model.
Axis Bank, for instance, has said that the new-age gig roles would be offered in areas like digital banking, technology, risk modelling, virtual sales, audit and credit policy, which are the first set of pilot offers.
How would hiring be different?
The hiring process for the new-age gig roles would be exactly similar to a regular shortlisting process. First, candidates would need to apply for the role. This will be followed by one or multiple rounds of online interviews. Companies having aptitude tests for new hires would follow the same rigour for the new-age gig roles as well.
IT firms as well as financial institutions like banks, mutual funds and insurance companies have background verification as a standard part of the selection process. So, for new-age gig roles as well, this will be no different.
Regular gigs of semi-skilled workers involve a phone call from the hiring manager, after which the individual may join the role. However, the new-age gigs would follow the standard procedures of hiring, and, hence, the shortlisting process will be as lengthy as a regular hire.
Will the pay be lower than a regular hire?
HR officials said that the compensation payable for new-age gigs would be on par or even higher than that of a regular hire. This is because the short-term contracts require highly skilled individuals who command a premium pay in the job market.
Especially for job roles like virtual sales, data analytics and audit roles, it is estimated that the compensation would be 10-15 percent higher than a regular salaried employee.
Since long-term benefits like PF and gratuity would be absent, other perks like entertainment allowance, travel vouchers and food allowance could be offered.
Are there any challenges?
While new-age gigs are expected to be hassle-free, there are a few issues which human resource experts need to work on.
The first is the labour laws pertaining to hiring, firing and compensation. Labour laws talk about over-time payment for staff if work timings exceed. But HR officials would need to work with the legal teams to ensure that the differences on payment for overtime are ironed out.
Companies also need to keep in mind that it will be tougher to lay off short-term employees even if there are cost constraints. The exact circumstances under which the new-age gig workers could be fired needs to be spelled out clearly in the employment contract.
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An added component here is replacement hiring in case of emergencies. HR consultants told Moneycontrol that companies must have a back-up plan to get an alternative worker within 7-10 days in case the particular hire has to quit due to a medical emergency or family commitment.
The second challenge would be in the area of violation of company policies and penal actions. For instance, sexual harassment using virtual interaction tools would be a challenge. POSH Act has said that any employee, be it contractual, third-party vendor or full-time employee can file a sexual harassment complaint.
Here, the compliance teams would have to work out ways to minimise such risks and also train recruits on the dos and don’ts of the workplace.
Finally, the most critical aspect would be on how productivity could be measured. For sales roles, there are targets, but for others, there wouldn’t be any quantifiable measure. For this, corporates need to work out a mechanism to measure the weekly and monthly productivity of each gig hire and also define what their daily tasks are, as per their job description.