Employer- “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?”
Job seeker- “Competing in a globally challenging environment and managing my team effectively”
Well this is what generally all job seekers expect an employer to expect from them. But let’ put it in a different way.
Employer- “What will be your take away from this organization?”
Job seeker- “To have an open mind, to learn to unlearn and to customize myself to change.”
That sounds better and more sensible to an employer. But why? This question cannot be answered in a sentence per se. There is something more, perhaps a lot to explain.
An employee is he/she punching with his bio metric or marking his attendance in the register logging with his user id and working for 8 – 10 hours. There is a contract and a legal commitment between the duo. I would prefer to say that the concept of “employment” is changing to “engagement”. Now what is “Engagement”. To put in simple terms, it is nothing but get engaged in what you do and get paid for what you do.
Most of us living in the world today probably would not have witnessed or passed through a phase like what we are passing through today. The current pandemic “Covid 19” has turned to be a threat to the entire world. Will this too pass away? The answer is yes and also with a lot of light and hope on the other side. The first and second world war had nations fighting on both ends for their rights. We should all accept one big fact, we are by default witnessing the third world war. The war between humans and a deadly microscopic organism. But the only difference is that this is not the war for rights, but the war for survival, the war for humanity irrespective of boundaries, politics, religion or creed. In 1940 if it were armed men fighting on both ends, in 2020 it is unarmed citizens fighting the enemy lying in their bed comfortably. Folks aren’t we blessed to be fighting like this? This would not have been possible without the great inventions like mobile phones, optic fiber and mobile applications. Today these are the weapons which make us stronger and equipped. Human creed have always embraced change, in spite of criticisms. Mankind has passed all the test of industrial revolutions successfully. But there has been one thing that has been haunting us so far, “demon of unemployment”. The fear of mechanization replacing manpower. This has been a very apprehensive factory in Indian economy particularly Kerala.
The first industrial revolution saw agriculture replaced with mechanization. The second replacement of coal with steam engine. The third revolution with the introduction of microprocessor and chips. The Industry 4.0 of to put the fourth phase of industrial revolution began in the middle of the last century with the digital revolution. Now it is time to ask ourselves whether “Are we entering Industry 5?”. If you ask me I would say yes. The revolution of the “Gig”
The word gig seems to be jargon or unfamiliar to many. Is the “Gig” something only for the privileged? But trust me, “Gig” is not something new. It existed ages back. We would have probably studied about them in our school text books as “piece-based pay”. The father of scientific management FW Taylor introduced the “differential piece rate system” The piece-based pay evolved in the world somewhere in the late 19th century. The origins of gig can be traced back in sectors like a match box industry, handlooms and other labour intensive factories. A group of unskilled workers who are the sole bread earners of their family go for work in early hours in the morning and they return happily getting paid for that day. The smarter ones earn more.
In the early 90s there existed some jobs called software engineer, salesman, data entry operator, clerk, peon, cashier, cook, officer. We will probably be wondering where all these jobs vanished?? Well it is not the jobs that vanished, but it’s the functions or the job nature that probably changed, diversified evolved. Software engineer was a very generic term and internet was just confined to websites then with just probably one common coding language or one operating system then. But with advent of mobile applications and different OS in place, the responsibilities of a software engineer became more like that of an Android developer, a PHP, python developer and so on. Mechanization and automation in factories conferred more responsibilities for an engineer thereby splitting the duties into many. A manager became an employee who can optimize cost, try different strategies and maximize profit for his organization rather than an employee sitting in a cabin making calls to his client. The functions of a manager start from that of in a production unit till the product reaches the end customer. In our childhood days, we often imagine a salesman selling a product to us with his travel bag on his shoulders. Now where is that salesman? He is now made more dignified as a Business Development executive or a Public relation executive. He may not even need to visit the customers residence for selling the product. Do we know any salesman from “Amazon”, “Flipkart” or “Swiggy”??Data entry operators have been replaced with Tally, SAP and other ERPs. The job of a peon has been replaced by FAX and subsequently by emails.
We are replacing a scenario where the product reaches the customer and not the customer going to the product. The customer can demand a product at any time round the clock, which means the company has to be operational 24/7. Is it practically possible? Can companies afford to pay overtime for all their functions? Well, certainly not. And here is what I would say we need to act smart. If Uber can conquer the transportation world without owning a cab, if Swiggy can deliver multiple cuisines without even having a restaurant of their own, then why can’t a company meet a customized interest in the most efficient and effective way. Now I would say the Gig is what makes a company Big. A company can engage, I wouldn’t use the term employ, its engage “n” number of workers here to manufacture the customized demand of the product. The best and the fastest manufacture gets paid. He is not constrained to maximize his potential in 8 hours’ time a day. He is given free thinking and creativity to deliver the most innovative product within the time frame of the customer. And now again for delivering the finished product to the customer, the company again engages delivery executive who can work in time shifts to deliver the product as early as possible to the customer. The delivery executive is paid for the number of deliveries he makes rather than the number of hours he works.
Now coming to the regular course of employment, an employer is legally committed to its employee by entering into a contract. If the employee does not meet the expectations of the employers, the employer may still be forced to continue with him. And if there is no further progress in the employee’s performance, the employer has no other option other than to get to have done with him. This is really a very painful scenario for the duo. But the with the growth of Gig, the employee has more autonomy for creative and free thinking, flexible working hours and work liberty. Employers is not put under the pressure of hiring, he enjoys flexible labour norms. We cannot blindfold the fact that there are challenges here too. But there are so many skilled or professional jobs that could come under Gig. To name a few they could be software development, graphic designing, document vetting, legal scrutiny, content writing, customer support. These jobs could be done by a skilled job seeker sitting at home using a laptop, data connectivity and mobile phone. Yes we do have challenges of data security and privacy, the concept of which has evolved over time and this too will evolve where necessity is in place.
Blue or grey color has always been a niche untapped market. The reason is the demand for these jobs is more and supply is less. Thereby making the job seekers more demanding. We find that the households are finding it a very difficult time to get helpers as full time or part time. What if these jobs could be done on a piece-based system? Some of the blue color Gig jobs for future could be fine arts and handicrafts, tailoring, meat processing, vegetable cutting, drivers, delivery executives. The homemakers get paid for as a piece rate wages. Let us visualise The Gig blue collar employment cycle
The beauty of future is that it is unknown. Let us embrace the unknown and let us be open for a change. So, what’s next? We are going Gig, we are getting big. The future is entering a next phase the phase of digital boom. Let us recharge ourselves for the “New normal” which is going to witness a lot of job opportunities. The best way to tap them is to stay creative and innovative. The future is exciting!