• 11.04.2022
  • 4 Min

For organisations to succeed in a fast and ever-changing environment, flexibility and a culture of continuous learning are required. The pandemic has made this even more evident. Gig mentality helps when it comes to being proactively resilient to crises as a company. But how can you recognise it and how can a gig mindset be encouraged?

Gig Mindset: What is it?

Gig mindset refers to the behaviour and attitudes of people who, although they work for a company on a permanent basis, approach their work more like independent entrepreneurs. A gig mindsetter

  • manages him/herself,
  • takes the initiative spontaneously,
  • focuses more on skills than tasks,
  • feels free to shorten processes,
  • does not hesitate to challenge the status quo,
  • passes on what s/he has learned to others,
  • takes responsibility for personal development and
  • has confidence in her/his ability to influence people.

Gig mentality differs from the traditional mindset of employees, where the way of working is more characterised by defined roles, hierarchies and established procedures, and who go to work to earn a living.  

Gig mentality brings a sense of freedom and openness, an entrepreneurial spirit (commitment and accountability), and a desire to constantly develop and learn new things.

What are signs of a gig mentality in organisations?

  • Staff members change fluently from project to project, frequent change of roles and bosses.
  • Often only generic department names instead of specific job titles
  • Greater self-management, including choice of work location (home office, office, on the road).
  • Reputation and personal branding are important to employees.
  • Stronger networking (corporate social networks, online communities).
  • Employees are often members of external peer-to-peer networking groups.

How can gig mentality be encouraged?

Gig-mindsetters are on the rise – bottom-up and favoured by digitalisation, globalisation and the last two pandemic years, which were like a catalyst.

A learning culture with a gig mentality starts with each individual. Therefore, large-scale, “top-down” structured change initiatives and learning programmes are not the solution, because they do not offer employees the opportunity to take their own initiative. 

Better: Bring about culture change by the CEO issuing a mandate for transformation that promotes the qualities of the gig mindset.

Approaches are: 


  • Enable direct communication between staff and senior managers without having to go through different levels of management first.
  • Encourage staff to challenge the status quo.
  • Leaders seek discussion rather than consensus.

Teams and leadership

  • Build teams that focus on skills and knowledge rather than titles and positions.
  • Encourage teams to work “out loud” and share their work before completing it.
  • Failure of experimental initiatives is seen as a positive experience by management and stakeholders are asked to share their experiences.
  • Enable decentralised decision-making, down to the lowest level of responsibility.
  • Reward collaboration for problem solving and encourage initiative and creativity.

Horizon scanning

  • Establish systems to get input from outside (e.g. customer service).
  • Allow staff time for activities such as external networking, conference attendance and online learning programmes.
  • Create opportunities for staff to follow developments in the outside world (business, technology, society), whether or not they directly affect the company.

Sounds like a coup – better ignore it?

Yes, gig-mindsetters can cause “chaos” – they turn familiar processes upside down and bridge gaps while achieving surprising results and showing new ways. But those who ignore or even suppress their gift for entrepreneurial improvisation, adaptability and innovation are giving away crucial success factors for the future. Those who recognise their value, on the other hand, will go beyond resilience and achieve proactive resilience – also and precisely because this means overcoming a (willful) blindness of management based on pride, fear and past successes.

More and more CEOs as well as transformation leaders are recognising the benefits of the gig mindset and are taking strategic action to foster a culture in which this mindset thrives. We see evidence of this in our daily work: there is a high demand for talent hero journeys that establish, promote and cultivate new work and growth mindsets. For those who want to delve further into the topic, we recommend this read:

  1. In her book ‘The Gig Mindset Advantage’, organisational analyst Jane McConnell synthesises her decades of research on work culture, organisational strategy and digital transformation into a compelling wake-up call for managers and leaders. With numerous examples and quotes, it addresses the ‘how’ necessary to turn ideas into action and also offers checklists to help examine one’s own context.
  2. Current HBR article ‘How workers with a gig mindset can help your company succeed’.

A corporate culture with a gig mentality brings meaning to life for the individual and the organisation – and a sense of purpose is, after all, what people want more than ever today. Or isn’t it? Share your thoughts, experiences, opinions and questions with us – we look forward to the conversation.  

Sources / related links:


Ann Sophie Lauterbach has been a research associate at the Future of Work Lab Konstanz since October 2020 and is also working on the project “Digitalization, automation and the future of work in post-industrial welfare states” at the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality”. In the Talenthelden interview, she shares insights and expert knowledge and also makes recommendations on how organizations should position themselves to be fit for the future.

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The bio of Markus Vogelbacher, founder and Managing Director of INTERNATIONAL FILM PARTNERS (IFP) reads as if it offers enough material for at least one blockbuster: Car mechanic, journalist, producer, editor, entrepreneur, Member of the Executive Board of a corporate group, founder, corporate finance structurer, M&A consultant, holds an MBA in General Management and is a producer as well as a lecturer. In this interview, we are talking with him about the topics that we are always curios about − leadership, transformation and the people behind the story.

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