What is the Gig Economy? What Employers Need to Know to Be Successful

The gig economy is a dynamic and increasingly popular solution brimming with untapped potential for your business. But what is it and how are you supposed to pay gig workers?

Freelancer working on their next assignment from a cafe
Author By Roll Editorial Team on February 12, 2024
Reading Time 4 min read

Adding new members to your team is an exciting decision. However, it’s no secret that the hiring process can take time. As you widen your search across various regions and refine your prerequisites, you're taking proactive steps toward finding that ideal candidate. But what if you still can't find the perfect person? In these moments, a shift in your hiring strategy just might be the answer you need.

Enter the gig economy — a dynamic and increasingly popular solution brimming with untapped potential for your business. But what is the gig economy and how are you supposed to pay gig workers?

With Roll by ADP, you don’t need to learn the ins and outs of how it all works — onboarding and paying contractors is easy with our innovative payroll app for small businesses. The best part? It takes less than a minute. With Roll’s contractor payroll services, you can:

  • Streamline 1099 Contractor Payment – Effortlessly pay 1099 contractors using Roll by simply chatting "Hire employee" and providing necessary details.
  • Easily Add Employee and Business Information – With just a few clicks, you can add both employee and business information for a smooth onboarding process.
  • Access Unlimited Payroll Runs – Experience the freedom of running unlimited payrolls, whether it's weekly, monthly, or yearly. You can even give bonuses through simple chat commands!
  • Automate Tax Management – Roll handles the calculations, withholding, and filing of payroll taxes each pay period so you can stay up-to-date and in compliance.   

If you’re wondering what the gig economy is all about and whether it’s right for your business, you're in the right place. In this blog, we're unpacking the essentials, offering fresh insights on the gig economy and practical tips for hiring gig workers. Ready to learn more? Then, let's dive in!

What is the Gig Economy?

Let's break down and define gig economy work in a way that's as easy to understand as making your morning coffee. Picture this: Instead of the traditional full-time or part-time roles, gig jobs pop up on a contract basis and often for a set period. This collection of temporary, flexible jobs makes up the vibrant tapestry of the "gig" or "freelance" economy.

The gig economy is marked by its flexibility and diversity, appealing to a broad range of workers and industries. It's not just about tech platforms like Uber or TaskRabbit — it also includes roles such as substitute teachers, temps, tutors, or creative professionals. This sector is expanding rapidly, with a notable growth rate three times faster than the total US workforce.

Additionally, in the most recent edition of McKinsey's American Opportunity Survey (AOS), an astounding 36 percent of employed respondents (which translates to approximately 58 million Americans based on the representative sample) self-identify as independent workers. This significant figure underscores the growing prevalence of the gig economy in the American workforce.

When Did the Gig Economy Start?

The modern gig economy burst onto the scene in 2009, and it took off for a few reasons. It was just after the 2007-2008 financial crisis when many savvy professionals found themselves hunting for side gigs or part-time jobs to beef up their wallets. Then came a tech revolution, opening a whole new world of work-from-anywhere possibilities. This was the era when freelancing websites started popping up like daisies. Big names like Uber, Airbnb, and Postmates changed the game, offering pretty much anyone a chance to rake in some extra cash on their schedule.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Gig Workers

Before you decide to hire gig workers, there are several things you’ll want to consider. Remember, the gig economy is a fantastic option in many circumstances, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Before deciding on what gig jobs to hire for, it's essential to understand whether freelancers can enhance your organization.

Your best bet? Weighing both the advantages and disadvantages to determine if it's the right fit for your business.

Let’s explore a little further.


  • There’s no long-term commitment, so you can easily adjust the size of your workforce. This is highly desirable for businesses that experience peak seasons and slow periods throughout the year.
  • Gig workers require less overhead investment since many do not need a physical office space and have their own computers/equipment.
  • Employers gain access to a global talent pool when hiring freelancers, which means they can tap into expertise they otherwise may not have been able to obtain.


  • There are security concerns associated with allowing external gig workers access to your company files and other data.
  • The quality of work can vary drastically from one gig worker to the next, which means your company’s reputation could be damaged if performance expectations aren’t met.

It's important to balance these factors against your business needs to make an informed decision. After all, the success of your venture hinges on the choices you make in building your team.

What You Need to Know When Hiring Gig Workers

Are you ready to navigate the dynamic world of gig work? You're already clued up on gig economy benefits and potential hiring challenges. Now, let's delve deeper and make your hiring strategy a smashing success.

When hiring for contract work, what are gig jobs you should be considering? Thriving in the gig economy is about understanding the roles that fit best and leveraging the vast pool of talent out there.

It’s also important to carefully consider the pay you’ll be offering, as naturally contractors will be searching for which gig job pays the most. While you don’t have to be the person posting the highest-paying gig jobs, you’ll want to make sure you’re paying your contractors fairly while simultaneously attracting top talent. 

Types of Positions

As an employer delving into the gig economy, each gig job opens the door to unique opportunities and talent. Here's a quick look at some of the positions you can fill:

Data Entry Positions

Data entry positions are always in high demand. These gigs are perfect for those who may need to work from home or prefer to be more flexible in their setup. From crunching numbers in accounting to converting spoken words into written text, data entry is at the core of any business. This versatility makes it easy to find skilled freelancers eager to jump on board.

Digital Marketing Positions

Senior-level marketing professionals have access to some of the highest-paying gig jobs available. This means there’s an expansive talent pool for companies to choose from – brand wizards, SEO gurus, digital ad maestros – all available on a contractual basis. This field attracts top-tier professionals and offers a range of opportunities for businesses to amplify their online presence.

Delivery and Rideshare Positions

When it comes to quintessential gig economy examples, delivery and rideshare positions take the cake. Whether it's for a bustling food service business or an innovative app-based delivery service, these roles are always in high demand. They're the go-to choice for folks looking to boost their income during off-hours, attracting a diverse crowd from college students to retirees, all drawn by these jobs’ flexibility and ease.

The Flip Side

If you ask any freelancer, "What is one downside of working in the gig economy?" the answer often lies in the lack of job security and benefits. Unlike traditional roles, gig jobs typically don't offer the safety net of health insurance, paid leave, or retirement plans. This is a key consideration for employers navigating the gig economy landscape who want to keep talented contractors on the payroll. Consider offering additional perks like remote work stipends or bonuses to show how much you value them.

Payment, Paperwork, and Tax Considerations

Maintaining the proper paperwork when hiring gig workers is absolutely essential. It not only sets the foundation for a transparent working relationship, but it safeguards your business against potential disputes. Timesheets, employment classifications, and contract terms are just a few examples of records you’ll need to complete and file regularly. You’ll also need to accurately classify workers, provide necessary tax forms, and ensure your payroll is accurate and on-time.  

With Roll’s contractor payroll app, you can leave all of these off your to-do list! Roll expertly handles all your payroll and tax obligations — from withholding to filing and remittance — for each pay period. We don’t just make it easy for you. We make it easy for your contractors as well, providing them with easy access to all their pay information so they can manage their taxes effortlessly.

Payroll Made Easy with Roll

We've unraveled the mysteries of the gig economy and equipped you with top-notch strategies to thrive. Now, let's Roll into the next phase – simplifying your payroll process for gig workers!

Roll’s innovative small business payroll app simplifies the payroll process for 1099 contractors, allowing you to focus more on your business and less on administrative tasks. Roll’s contractor payroll features include:

  • Onboarding and paying contractors can be done in minutes.
  • Pay your team anywhere, anytime, from any device. 
  • There are no limits on the number of payrolls you can run.
  • You can handle off-cycle payments with ease.
  • Ensure compliance without the headache of staying on top of changing tax laws.
  • Easily download annual tax statements directly in the app.
Backed by ADP, the expert team at Roll streamlines onboarding, management, and payment for gig workers. Sign up today and transform your payroll! 

Payroll • Business Basics • Small Business • Small Business Payroll • Tax Filing
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