There are 1.3 million gig economy workers in the UK, according to in-depth research into gig working by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
The institute, which represents HR and learning and development professionals in the the UK, surveyed 400 gig economy workers and more than 2,000 other workers. It found that the most common reason for taking on gig work was to boost income (32%). Overall, gig economy workers are also about as likely to be satisfied with their work (46%) as other workers in more traditional employment are with their jobs (48%).
The report also reveals that only a quarter (25%) of gig economy workers say it is their main job, suggesting most use it to boost their overall income rather than depend on it. However, 60% say they don’t get enough work on a regular basis in the gig economy, and the research shows that income earned from gig work is typically low, with median reported income ranging from £6 to £7.70 per hour.
Despite the typically low earnings reported by gig economy workers, they remain on the whole satisfied with their income, with 51% saying they are satisfied and 19% dissatisfied with the level of income they receive. This is significantly higher than the level of satisfaction with pay reported by other workers, where 36% are satisfied and 35% are dissatisfied.
The 55-page report provides an in-depth look at gig working in the UK. It covers issues around income and financial security, the employment status of gig workers, opportunities for developing new skills in the gig economy and what workers feel about gigging.
Interestingly, the research shows that there are many powerful reasons why people find gig work satisfying. Here we take a look at those reasons.
The report shows that those gig workers who say it is their main job are significantly more satisfied with their work (68%), compared with those for whom it is not their main job (41%).
Gig workers feel better about the work they do compared with other workers. Just under half (49%) of gig economy workers report the work they have done over the last few weeks has made them feel optimistic either never or occasionally, compared with 60% of other workers. Gig workers are also nearly twice as likely (25%) to say they feel optimistic most or all of the time as a result of their work as other workers (14%).
And they are much more likely to report their work makes them feel excited than other workers. Just over half (52%) of gig economy workers say the work they have done within the gig economy over the last few weeks has made them feel excited either never or occasionally, compared with 69% of other workers. In contrast, a fifth (20%) of gig economy workers report they feel excited by their work either most or all of the time, compared with just 7% of other workers who report this.
Other indicators of satisfaction with gig working include:
Flexibility: Gig economy respondents are much more satisfied (60%) than other workers (44%) when it comes to the amount of flexibility they have to decide their working hours and are less likely to be dissatisfied (13% vs 26%)
Independence and autonomy: Gig economy workers are appreciably more satisfied than other workers with their level of independence and autonomy, with more than half (55%) of gig economy workers expressing satisfaction on this measure, compared with just 48% of other workers. Just 10% of gig workers are dissatisfied on this measure in
Empowerment and fulfilment: Gig economy workers are more satisfied with their level of empowerment and fulfilment than other workers (45% vs 36%) and are less likely to report dissatisfaction (18% vs 30%).
Opportunities to develop: More than four in ten (42%) gig economy respondents are satisfied with their opportunities to develop skills and knowledge, with 19% dissatisfied. However, just 38% of other workers are satisfied with their opportunities to develop skills and knowledge, with 30% dissatisfied.
Wellbeing: Gig economy workers are much more positive than other workers about their physical and mental well-being experienced through work, with 48% of gig workers reporting satisfaction in this respect, compared with just 34% of other workers. Gig economy workers are also much less likely to report dissatisfaction with their physical and mental well- being (16%) than other workers (33%).
In doing this research the CIPD sought to understand working life in the gig economy. The report shows that there are challenges around financial security and employment status which are to be expected. The world of work has been, and continues to be, disrupted by technology and at a pace which is causing employers and the government to catch up.
The research also highlights some of the advantages of gig working. These are very powerful – having more control over work, more flexibility and more empowerment. For many gig economy workers, financial insecurity is stressful but it is interesting to see that when doing the work gig workers report better mental and physical wellbeing compared with other workers.
Gig economy working is still in its infancy in the UK but this report goes a long way to helping educate employers and employees on the opportunities and challenges of gig working.