Recruitment and the Gig Economy

 Gig ENG


In 2018 more than 400,000 job seekers were able to find a job in Switzerland through recruitment agencies. Thanks to staffing companies, 170,000 people in Switzerland were offered the chance to be professionally flexible (swissstaffing, CEO Meeting 09/2019). Increasing Gig Economy is a key factor for recruitment agencies. Digitalisation and social development are boosting flexible work. Temporary work via recruitment agencies in Switzerland allows flexible work opportunities within a clearly defined and fair framework and thus offers more security for so called flexworkers. The flexibility of work and the newly distributed risks and challenges for flexworkers and recruitment agencies are subject of this article.


Definition: Gig Economy

The word Gig Economy is a word newly formed in the 21st century, combining the words "Gig" (short temporary job) and "Economy" (economy). The Gig Economy therefore describes a labor market that is predominantly characterised by fixed-term employment contracts or freelance work unlike permanent employment.

This term was mainly characterized by IT platforms that allow project-related work all over the world, such as Fiverr, Uber, Eat, AirBnB etc.


Challenges for Flexworkers

All employees who accept flexible work can be called Flexworkers. This can occur in the form of freelancers, platform work (such as UBER), temporary employees, or interim management via consulting.




The contract defines exactly what must be done and which tasks have to be fulfilled. Depending on the type of contract, the flexworker can split his/her time flexibly. For some jobs it is possible having highest flexibility, but for some jobs it is important that the flexworker is attending the company at certain times (e.g. because of production times, team meetings etc.).

Flexibility cannot only be understood in regards of working hours, but also in terms of free choice of project, getting to know different companies and thus different structures and requirements.



Young people appreciate the autonomy of not having to commit themselves to a company in the long term. Flexworkers can simply title their position as " project based " or " temporary employment " and the topic of frequent changes is no longer an issue.



Independence increases the variation of tasks. Employees who have gained work experience for different clients and companies, offer the required agility on labor market. They can quickly adapt to a new environment and master tasks without extensive training. In addition, their industry experience provides them with good input for current clients to optimize or advance projects or processes.



Payment can be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage. Most flexworkers earn hourly salaries that are far more attractive than those of an internal employee. A project-based salary determines a fixed price for a completed project, regardless of the number of hours worked and is purely result-oriented. On the other hand, working on an hourly base involves a certain risk because one can never plan long-term. The more training and certificates a flexworker has, the better his/her salary will be. It demands a lot of self-control and can also lead to more working hours than permanent positions.



Internal benefits

Flexworkers rarely benefit from internal benefits. These include, for example, equipment such as laptops, etc., discounted or paid meals in the canteen, and many more. In most cases flexworkers are treated like external workers. Some companies, on the other hand, take a special approach and would like to better integrate flexworkers through get-togethers. Also, an increasing number of recruitment agencies are offering their temporary employees get-togethers so that they can network.


Insufficient unity

Depending on whether the flexworker works off-site, always has to work on-site, or organizes himself/herself completely flexible, working can lead to social exclusion. As flexworker you no longer work as a part of a team but fulfill an assignment on demand.


More stress

Anyone who works irregularly or temporarily must plan cost-effectively long-term. This requires a lot of discipline and long-term orientation. What happens if I don't find employment for 3 months or more? Am I protected by RAV? Many employees appreciate the security and stability of a permanent position and thus avoid the stress of financial ruin.


Profit for companies

For companies, there are a lot of advantages and flexworkers are an attractive solution. If, for example, a headcount for personnel costs has not been approved, personnel can be procured through other budgeting paths as “consulting” or “external service”.

The faster scalability helps with activities that are only project-related or phase-dependent (e.g. clinical studies). Targets can be achieved without keeping employee costs permanently high. In addition, the diversity of external employees offers a profit for a company. Temp-workers can bring the diverse know-how they have gained at different companies to their current positions.


Challenges for recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies are faced with the new challenge of adapting to the conditions of Gig Economy and flexworkers. In specific this means, that recruitment agencies have to adapt their work flexibly (whether it is working hours or communication channels). A flexworker no longer wants to go the official way via e-mail and application forms, but rather short and flexible arrangements via WhatApp or LinkedIn.

Recruiters must adapt to these models and a new question arises, whether fixed opening hours still make sense or result-oriented working will be the future of recruitment, in accordance with the rising Gig Economy. Open and flexible working conditions mean not only remote work, but also facilities and offices that allow open and team-oriented communication. Financial bonus programs promote willingness and commitment to success and thus offer all recruiters room to develop their talent and to implement their ideas creatively.

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