Accenture and Deloitte both predict 30% of the UK’s workforce will be freelancing or gig working by 2020. In the US, this will rise as high as 50% by 2020. As the demands placed on the HR team to attract and engage with gig economy talent increase, selecting and implementing the right HR technology will become an even more important initiative for the HR team. The good news is that HRIS software continues to evolve and promises to meet these challenges. It remains key however to find the right software and vendor to meet the requirements of your organisation. This means cutting through the marketing hype and vendors’ hyperbole, and designing and implementing any new system with future gig economy requirements in mind.

In our recently updated research report, Delivering on the HRIS Promise, we consider how the benefits of HRIS systems can be maximised to suit gig economy challenges.

HRIS systems have evolved to meet the increasingly complex needs of organisations. Let’s consider how these four forces for change map onto the benefits an HRIS can bring.

Social factors

The future will undoubtedly see an increasing freedom for employees in terms of where to work and for whom to work. A growing community of gig workers are choosing to abandon the traditional office and work in different ways, or even in different countries. There is no question that remote working will transform the world in the next 20 years. Some are predicting that there will be 1 billion ‘digital nomads’ by 2035. We also know that employees are placing a great deal more importance on purpose and culture and this translates into who they choose to work for.

Our research shows that HRIS system adoption can drive loyalty in terms of increasing engagement and allowing an organisation to build an employer brand proposition from an early stage. Designers of HRIS are increasingly looking to social media when designing the look and feel of their systems as a way of building engagement and loyalty. The influence goes way beyond the purely cosmetic. Social media functionality is increasingly being adopted in internal communications and knowledge sharing. HRIS has the capacity to enable organisations to build communities, informal groups of individuals with similar interests, connecting employees from wherever they are based and letting untapped expertise emerge.


Virtual offices, infrastructure-as-a-service, video-conferencing – technological innovation marches on promising quick fixes to age-old problems, such as a company needing to locate employees in one llocation. Even the non-office environment faces radical change in terms of automation and AI.

HRIS enables a single view of each employee (or gig worker’s) data across the organisation, removing duplication and improving accuracy. The Cloud and more integrated systems means there is now the chance to get reliable data, providing a single view of your people across the organisation. For multinationals, getting to the single view will have its challenges (see our HRIS case studies) and data protection rules (current and future GDPR) means some data may still need to be stored locally, but the benefits are great.

Commercial forces

Our research continually shows organisations needing to adapt their organisational designs and operating models in response to globalisation, market forces and the seemingly overnight competition. Digital transformation is expected to have been undergone by 40% of companies by 2020 (source: Forbes). When combined with the speed of technological change and the new desires of workers to be flexible and remote, we see an essential need to create a system that supports gig economy agility.

HRIS design considerations need to be made early in the HRIS selection process to ensure the chosen system will meet current and future needs. There is no one-size-fits-all and decisions should be based on a thorough understanding of the organisations specific requirements, context and future aspiration. Our research identified the importance of resisting customisation (the tailoring of a core system to create a one-off bespoke solution) where possible, instead investing effort in exploring configuration (functionality can be turned on/off, interfaces defined by the user without impacting the underlying system structure) to meet rrequireements. Mobile access is a requirement for remote gig workers to access work information via any device and the increase in remote working will only accelerate this expectation. Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service systems tend to be highly configurable, enabling orgnaisations to update and tailor their version to meet needs without creating a customised system that becomes restrictive in time. A vendor’s ability to configure their system should be key in evaluating which HRIS to opt for.

Regulatory forces

Numerous reviews are still taking place into the gig economy and new regulations and laws will undoubtedly come into play. HR teams will need to manage and comply with any changes resulting from inquiries – making sure that employees and self-employed people are understood and supported in terms of their role in the gig economy.

HRIS systems, like any new system, need to be designed and implemented with the long term in mind, supporting future ambitions and avoiding ‘lock in’ and inflexibility. Again, with configurable systems, HR leaders are offered a standard application that readily allows elements of the system to be adapted to meet local needs without impacting the underlying structure.

As with any project, success will come as a result of careful planning and good execution. As the gig economy grows, organisations need to plan for how people’s roles, responsibilities and ways of working might be impacted. This is an exciting time in the HRIS market. Even the largest organisations are now revisiting existing HR systems and processes as new technologies and ways of working emerge.

If you are considering implementing or upgrading your HRIS and would value a discussion on how to overcome the challenges and achieve your objectives without locking in the organization during times of rapid change, please download our research paper ‘HRIS – delivering on the promise‘ (newly updated to contain a section on PaaS) or call David Cruise, Director, Business Transformation, on 0207 101 1979.

Sian Dodd
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