Dr. Sharmila Subramanian

From 2012 to 2019, the Hollywood science-fiction, the Avengers series became a craze with many movie lovers who adored the superheroes for their might and righteousness. The movies registered huge collections at the box office and were great commercial success. In fact, for those interested in deciphering the codes of the characters, the movies were a scrumptious treat. Each superhero possessed distinct powers and was independent of the other. Their attitudes, behaviours, and approaches were diverse from one another, yet they comprised a team. The only aspect that connected them was their unified goal to protect the people and the planet. Interestingly, this analogy is apt for the new-age employees who showcase a “gig mindset”. This article explores the characteristics of “gig mindsetters” and suggests measures to tap this mindset for organisational benefit.


The term “gig” means a job that is temporary or freelancing in nature. Thus, a gig worker is one, who is engaged in a temporary or freelancing job. However, not all the references to gig are associated with the nature of the job. There are employees whose engagement is permanent but their approach is like that of a “gig worker”. Thus, the term “gig mindset” means the attitudes and behaviours of people who engage themselves with their work more as independent freelancers. They behave differently as they do not appreciate the traditional form of working. They do not mind trespassing on others’ roles, subverting the hierarchy and established practices. 

Jane McConnell, in an article in HBR, calls “‘gig mindsetters’ as a bold new breed of full-time, salaried employees who think and act like freelancers — self-manage, take spontaneous initiative, focus on skills more than roles, feel free to shortcut processes, and don’t hesitate to question the status quo.” He further says that they are keen to share their learnings and take controlof their growth prospects. They are confident as well as influential as they are skilled and knowledgeable.

A close look at the modern workforce indicates that such employees are on the increase in all organisations. They are independent and confident; talented and focused on their personal development. From their behaviour, it is conspicuous that they are experimental and make unapproved moves. This is usually seen as an undisciplined and disrespectful act.

Apart from this, they are viewed as loud and open which serves as a threat to maintaining confidentiality. They focus more on skills than on roles assigned; this is viewed as a threat to the existing hierarchy. Moreover, their overtness and aggressive behaviour challenge the existing practices of an organisation. Amidst all these seemingly negative behaviour, the value of the core competencies of these employees diminishes. Also, the management forgets to recognize their talent, and their ability to add novelty to the existing process. To tap the potential strengths of these “gig mindsetters”, organisations must act pragmatically.

One way of anointing these employees is through the “learn, apply, share” technique. In this technique, the employee is given the freedom to learn whatever they prefer. However, they are supposed to relate the learnings to their self-goals as well as organisational goals. Finally, they are required to share their learnings with other members of the organisation. This approach has a concrete structure as the employees write down their goals, and every aspect of it is documented.

The other way of doing it is to facilitate free communication with the top management. The vision and the direction of the management are clearly discussed with the “gig mindsetters” so that they are convinced of the organisational culture. They develop the willingness to do things in a better manner. Allowing them to prepare and administer their own performance plan, can act as leverage. As these employees are loyal to themselves, they are more likely to adhere to their self-set standards.

In a fast-changing business environment, confronting “gig mindsetters” is inevitable. Progressive and learning organisations have to learn to retain and nurture these talents for maintaining harmony. A brigade of superheroes, in the organisation, is a dream come true!

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)