The gig economy: Balancing fairness, sustainability and untapped potential

VaynerMedia’s Dawn Wong emphasises the importance of deliberate revisions in classifications and compensations in the gig economy.
By: | May 27, 2024

The gig economy can be a double-edged sword. It offers flexibility and new opportunities, but also challenges traditional work structures and social safety nets. Discussing this transformation with HRM Asia, Dawn Wong, Head of People and Experience, Asia-Pacific, VaynerMedia, stressed the importance of intentionally revising classifications and compensation for gig employees fairly and equitably.

Sustaining the gig economy in the long-term necessitates significant changes in how gig employees are classified and compensated. Wong underscored that these changes are unavoidable and must be approached with a focus on equity and mutual benefit for organisations and employees.

She advocates for a comprehensive approach soliciting diverse viewpoints to ensure revisions are effective and inclusive, and explained, “Revisions and classifications are unavoidable. What is important is whether we are looking at this with intent to ensure the revisions help both organisations and individuals and drive the economy.” This inclusive strategy, she added, is crucial for creating a sustainable foundation for the gig economy.

The shift towards a gig-dominated labour market also brings with it several social implications. Wong highlighted the need to adapt social security infrastructures to support gig employees, who often face less stability than traditional employees. Additionally, there is a need to develop new support structures to sustain this workforce.

She elaborated, “Some industries will strive better than others from the perspective that as there is more influx of gig employees, people will seek a variety of needs that can provide them to plug the gap of what they will be enjoying if they were to work for an organisation. All these will require organisations to think differently on their approaches to the gig economy employees, what they are looking for, what is visible for the organisation, and how to make that balance and focus on what matters.”

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An often-overlooked aspect is the gig economy’s potential for older employees. As populations age, attracting and retaining this demographic is crucial. Wong suggested that leveraging technology and thoughtful infrastructure design can reduce barriers for older employees, making it easier for them to participate in the gig economy.

“The ageing population brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences that complement the younger generations, and both generations have a lot to learn from each other,” she noted. By designing systems that integrate the strengths of both older and younger employees, organisations can create a more inclusive and robust gig economy. This approach not only values the experience of older employees but also fosters intergenerational learning and collaboration, she concluded.