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Workplace Conundrum: Growing Passion For Passion Economy

As the passion economy and side hustles become mainstream, entirely new professions that capitalize on an individual's innate curiosity are starting to proliferate. Consequently, millions of new employment avenues opened, cutting-edge business models revived all industries, and the Internet GDP skyrocketed. Notwithstanding the numerous benefits that accrued with the advent of the passion economy and side hustles, new difficulties surfaced.

For the longest time, employment has mostly been about getting regular pay, but in the post-pandemic era, there is an inevitable shift in the alchemy of aspirations as people put insurance and purpose at the forefront while making professional choices. 

The Uprise of Passion Economy and Unbundling of Work from Employment

The "Uber for X" model and the rapidly evolving gig economy are partly to blame for paving the way for the passion economy, in which people monetize their unique ingenuity and inventiveness. Priya Tikhe, Site Lead, Head of HRBP Operations, and HRSS - Tech & Operations in Allstate India, says, "The key factors responsible for the uprise of the passion economy are that it provides millennials with unprecedented employment prospects, creative avenues for professional fulfillment, and alternate means of earning money."

Interestingly, it allows them to create a portfolio of passions and pursuits and make a living out of it.  What's more, people are enjoying a great deal of flexibility in building a career on their terms and monetizing their passion.

However, it is not all rainbows and unicorns. Unlike regular employment, the passion pursuers need the discipline and the zeal to experiment, take risks and deliver consistently. Moreso, they need to be prepared to figure out human resources, accounting, and legal issues, all by themselves.

Tikhe says, "For this passion-pursuing workforce, HR folks need to wear the hat of HR advisors. HR advisors need to constantly upskill themselves to be able to aptly brew and balance the concoction of predictive analytics, human touch, and technology."

Confluence of Creativity and Productivity

Almost ever since the term career was conceptualized, creativity and productivity have been at odds. Those wanting to pursue creative fields were discouraged as they found it hard to make ends meet. The scenario is changing fast. Gig workers are more of passion pursuers looking for more purpose-driven ways to make a living.

Internet is playing a creators' workshop to remodel the work ways and monetize crafts. No wonder, GenZ creators, influencers, and investors are coloring the spectrum with varied meaningful career choices. The major confluence of creativity and productivity is up the horizon in the third era of the distributed decentralized internet, called Web 3.0.

If industry experts are to be believed, more than fifty percent of the jobs of 2030 don't even exist today. With the arrival of the passion economy, new kinds of professions capitalizing on an individual's intrinsic curiosity will be the norm. Prabhjot Kaur, Human Resource Director at Ericsson, in her somewhat predicting intonation, points to the future, "The future is defined by far greater use of tech-bots and analytics to study the sentiments and psyche of candidates to understand their unique perspectives and ingenuity. Basis which the unique roles will be crafted so people could flourish in jobs fulfilling their innate purpose."

Workplace Conundrum  

The pursuit of passion has undoubtedly opened avenues for flexible, freelance, or contractual options, but at the same time, it has resulted in specific issues for workers and workplaces.

One of the main issues with the passion economy is that it can lead to people not getting the benefits and protections typically afforded to full-time employees, such as health insurance, vacation, etc. Not treating them like permanent workers might leave them vulnerable to exploitation by their own staff.

Lack of workplace stability is another issue. Switching between the gigs makes it almost impossible to make a long-term plan or feel secure in a job, resulting in a high turnover rate and lack of ownership. Tikhe strongly suggests, "Gig workers' need for psychological safety is going to be more intense than that of full-time employees. Therefore, HR needs to think beyond the conventional Mary-go-round approach to engage talent. They need to take a quantum leap by marrying counseling with quantum analytics data points while keeping quantum technology at the epicenter of their talent strategy."

Finding and retaining reliable workers is as it is a difficult aspect while managing a large number of freelancers with their individual expectations also gives HR sleepless nights. Kaur urges HR to "keep an eye on futuristic trends and be ready to embrace immersive technology in the form of the metaverse. This can be the panacea for the malady of managing the distributed workforce while maintaining the personalized experience."

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the passion economy has the potential to open up opportunities for those who are passionate about their work. Still, at the same time, it can lead to exploitation and instability. Therefore, it is essential for HR to consider the impacts of the passion economy on both workers and workplaces and to find ways to protect the interest of both.

The gig economy isn't a gig utopia by any means. The majority gig workforce constitutes millennials and Gen Z. Employers must be better lensed with tools, technology, and strategy to respond to the changing needs and appetites of the NextGen workers. 


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