The Rise of the Gig Economy and What It Means for Conferences

Work and life are transforming at a rapid rate. When considering long-term conference or organizational strategy, it’s wise to future-cast the impact major workforce trends may have on your profession, particularly because conferences are about people first and content second.

You need to determine who (target audience) you’re designing for before you address the what (content) and how (experience design). Here are three workforce mega-trends that I believe will significantly impact our future conference audiences:

1. Job Hopping 

Many associations wonder if the up-and-coming generations will be joiners or attenders. The majority of workforce-trend predictions I researched cite the increase in job and career hopping as a sharply growing phenomenon. Some experts say that the next generation is less loyal and impatient; others say they’re just more ambitious than us old-timers. As this unfolds, it will likely take the next generation a bit longer to find a profession in which they want to plant roots.

What it means for you: The more you are able to demonstrate that your profession holds promise for worthwhile work, upward mobility, social responsibility, and work/life balance, the greater your chances are for earning their career vote. If you don’t do it already, consider a mentor program for first-timers and solo (only person from that organization) attendees.

2. Rise in Gig Workers 

According to Forbes, by 2020, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be independent, freelance, and on-demand workers. Gig workers come in many flavors including solopreneurs, independent contractors, project specialists, and even consultants like me.

What it means for you: Gig workers can be extremely influential (especially those damn consultants). In some cases, it’s hard to categorize “gigsters” as practitioners or suppliers. They are less likely to pay full freight to attend a premium conference experience. Their decision to attend will be affected by how many of their decision-making customers are participating and whether or not they are selected to present.

3. Impact of HUMALOGY®

Digital consulting firm Future Point of View’s founding partner, Scott Klososky, coined this term to describe the blending of humans and technology. “Most processes and actions involve some human effort that is aided by technology,” Klososky said. “The trick is figuring out how much human effort vs. technology effort needs to be used to maximize the efficiency of the action.” Nearly all meaningful innovation and disruption in your profession will have an impact on how the workforce evolves and the skills needed to succeed.

What this means for you: This concept is significantly more strategic than technology conversations at most conferences. Instead of evaluating shiny objects or generally speaking about emerging trends like big data, virtual reality, or the Internet of Things (IoT), HUMALOGY® takes a more practical approach to innovating and integrating technology for smart bets and market leadership.

In order to be proactive toward these workforce mega-trends, challenge your leadership to develop an outside-in view of your industry. Have them study the external landscape or mega-trends that are impacting society, institutions, socio-economic, and demographic sectors. Invite recognized experts and professionals from various fields — talent management, economics, learning, science, technology, etc. — to present and lead discussions at your board or leadership meetings. Ask leaders to connect the dots of what’s happening in the larger world to where your profession and its workforce are headed.

 How do your association conferences demonstrate opportunities for upward mobility to early career members? How are you using your target audience to attract gig workers?

Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *