At the height of the Great Resignation, millions of American employees were leaving their jobs in search of greener pastures. A fair number of them ended up going to work in the gig economy. They began offering ride sharing, food and grocery delivery, etc. Some years later, many would never go back to traditional employment.
There are lessons to be learned here for employers. If employers can figure out what is so attractive about gig work, they can start making changes that could prevent future staffing losses and perhaps even lure some former employees back.
Gig Work Is Flexible
Among the many things people find attractive about the gig economy is flexibility. A person who decides to drive for Uber and Lyft doesn’t work a straight 9-to-5 schedule. The ride-share driver can set their own schedule based on individual needs and preferences.
A driver does not even need to have a consistent schedule from one day to the next. On weekends, for example, there might be more money to be made during the evening and overnight hours. Getting people to and from their weekend entertainment venues is big business. But during the week, daytime rides might be more profitable as people seek assistance getting to and from medical appointments, the grocery store, etc.
The point is that the gig model affords flexibility. Workers can create schedules that suit them. They can change their schedules on the fly. If they decide they do not want to work on a given day, they don’t.
Gig Work Invites Ownership
Under the letter of the law, gig work is technically self-employment. Whether a worker delivers food for local restaurants or takes writing assignments on contract, they are the boss. That forces an ownership mentality. Gig workers who want to keep the work coming in have to act like business owners willing to go to any lengths to make customers happy.
Ownership is a curious thing. When employees feel a sense of ownership over what they do, they tend to do a better job at it. They tend to be more conscientious. On the other hand, feeling like just another cog in the wheel actually acts as a disincentive to do the best possible job.
Gig Work Offers Remote Work Opportunities
Some types of gig opportunities involve work that can be done at home using a computer and a few cloud-based apps. Freelance writing, graphic design, and other similar trades are good examples. The ability to work remotely is attractive to people who have no affinity for the office.
According to Benefit Mall, a Dallas general agency that represents more than 100 carriers and thousands of benefits brokers, remote work is something most companies should consider adding to their voluntary benefits packages. It doesn’t cost a company anything at all. On the other hand, it could boost productivity and employee retention.
Gig Work Represents Freedom
Underscoring all of this is the fact that gig work represents freedom to so many people. It allows them to work when and as they please. It allows them complete control over their own career destinies. Not being locked in by an employer makes a difference. Not being at the mercy of an employer is also a big deal.
Obviously, companies cannot fully imitate the gig model in the traditional workplace. But they can make changes to company culture and management practices, changes that would make work seem less traditional and more in line with the modern world. Employers can learn from the gig model. Those that do will be better off for it.