Need-to-Know Statistics About Gig Work by Region

What are the differences in how gig workers are used across global regions?

By Amy Anger, Vice President & Global Lead, CoE & Chief Culture Officer  |  April 04, 2018

Recently, we delved into the size of the gig economy and shared in our newly published research, From Workforce to Workfit, how this trend is growing among organizations across the globe. One statistic we shared is that 65% of global talent managers use gig workers, but this percentage varies considerably across regions.

As you can see in the chart below, gig work is widely used in Europe and Asia but far less in the Americas. Why is this occurring and what differences do we see in between regions?


One commonly cited reason freelancers make up a smaller percentage of all workers in the U.S. compared to Europe is that European countries have more protections and benefits in place for workers. In the U.S., benefits such as parental leave, vacation time, sick time, and the amount of pay for termination is provided by the employer to the employee with most of the discretion falling to the employer about what benefits will be provided. In most European countries, the types of benefits to be provided by an employer to its employees are mandated by the government.

As a result, employers in European countries are considerably more cautious when hiring full time employees; they only do so when they are certain the benefit outweighs the considerable cost and obligations of a permanent full time worker. But is this the only reason?

Our survey asked talent managers that engage gig workers the reasons why they do so. When we dig into the findings and look at the information on a regional basis, we see some subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Below, you can see the top three reasons talent managers use free agents in each region.

For instance, in EMEA, 59% of talent managers say gig workers infuse talent into the organization while 44% cite cost savings/efficiency. However, in the U.S., these percentages are almost reversed. Only 40% of talent managers use free agency as a way to infuse talent whereas 57% use gig talent to save costs and increase efficiencies.

Using gig workers to infuse talent into an organization is more a strategic approach than looking at free agents as a way to save costs. And, the more strategic the reason, the greater the business impact gig workers can have within a region.

It’s important to note that regardless of the reasons why various talent managers use gig workers, and independent of the adoption rate by region, the majority of talent managers across all regions report a positive experience working with free agents.


Learn more about gig workers across all regions by visiting our Gig Economy page.

View More Articles