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How to attract talent in the gig economy

Written by: Chase Charaba
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Originally published on March 9, 2022. Last updated March 30, 2022.

In recent years, the gig economy—a labor market with workers who have short-term contracts or gig work as opposed to permanent jobs—has shown incredible growth in the United States. In fact, according to the Aspen Institute’s gig trends report, nearly a third of workers in the U.S. were members of the gig economy.

That number has only grown in the wake of COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, a trend where workers are leaving jobs in massive numbers in search of better pay and benefits.

These part-time, freelance, and contract gigs have allowed millions to work independently with more flexibility than before.

The gig economy doesn’t just benefit workers. Hiring a gig worker can help businesses meet their immediate employment needs while reducing employment costs.

However, talent acquisition in the gig economy can be difficult. And, with the growing prevalence of the gig economy, you’ll want to ensure that your current workforce doesn’t leave for gig work. To effectively attract and keep your talent, you’ll need to provide personalized benefits that your employees want.

In this article, we’ll explain how to attract and hire talent in the gig economy:

Why is the gig economy growing?

The gig economy has been around for decades. However, recent events have shifted the perception of gig work from a last resort for the working class to a desirable employment model.

If the numbers are anything to go by, the gig economy is here to stay. According to Statista, more than 2 million gig workers joined the workforce in 2020. But what drove this shift?

As COVID-19 forced many businesses to close or downsize, millions of Americans turned to gig work as a way to pay their bills until they could find a new job. Now that the economy’s rebounded and businesses are hiring, these same workers are hesitant to leave their gig work behind.

That’s because gig work allows people to live a flexible lifestyle that wasn’t possible before in a full-time job. Freelancers and contract workers are free to set their hours and choose to take on the clients they want to work with.

Finally, advances in technology and system improvements are partially responsible for the gig economy's growth. Thanks to video conferencing and instant messaging that make remote work possible, people are more equipped to do gig work on the side.

Hiring gig talent

Why might your organization want to hire gig talent? Why not stick to the tried and true method of in-house permanent talent?

If you have an immediate skills gap in your organization, hiring independent workers is often quicker than searching for an equally qualified full-time job seeker.

Hiring gig talent can also help with your budget. Because gig workers aren’t a permanent workforce, they can be engaged as needed on a project-by-project or temporary basis. This is especially helpful for small businesses that can’t afford to bring on more full-time help.

However, hiring gig talent isn’t the same as hiring for permanent positions. Because gig workers move around and often balance multiple gigs simultaneously, the hiring and onboarding process needs to be fast. Gig workers won’t wait for a month-long hiring process.

You also need to establish goals, deliverables, and timeframes for gig talent. After all, with gig workers, you may want to offboard them once their job is complete. Alternatively, you can also hire gig workers later as full-time employees by offering the benefits they want.

No matter how you want to use gig workers in your organization, you’ll need to provide desirable benefits and perks to attract the right talent.

Why offer benefits to gig and full-time workers

There’s stiff competition in the gig economy sector right now. To ensure that your organization stands out to job seekers, you need to offer an appealing benefits package.

Providing benefits that young people want is more important than ever. Many gig workers are millennials or Gen-Z job seekers. Additionally, according to Gallup, 46% of the full-time workforce comprises millennials and Gen-Z.

You’ll want to bolster your benefits and perks for your permanent full-time employees to ensure they don’t leave for flexible gig economy opportunities.

While young people increasingly want their leaders and organizations to be ethical and transparent, as it turns out, most young employees want similar personal benefits to everyone else.

Some of the most desirable benefits for young workers include:

  • Job growth opportunities
  • Tuition support
  • Health benefits
  • Wellness benefits
  • Retirement benefits
  • Remote work options

So, what benefits should you offer to attract and retain workers in the gig economy? We’ll explain the most appealing benefits to job seekers and how to make the most of them.

Health benefits

Health benefits are a major factor in which positions a job seeker applies for. But why would you offer a health benefit to a part-time employee? If you want to attract the best gig talent, you need to be able to compete with other organizations.

While there are no legal requirements for offering a health benefit to all of your part-time employees, a health benefit can help you attract and keep the right employees.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 30% of adults aged 19 to 25 had no health benefits in 2011. That number dropped to 16% in 2018. Offering a health benefit can help you attract these part-time and full-time workers.

These benefits are significant for keeping full-time employees. Plus, if your organization is an applicable large employer (ALE) with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), you’re required to offer a health benefit to at least 95% of those full-time employees.

Health benefits can be in the form of traditional group health insurance or health benefit allowances. We’ll cover a few of the most popular health benefit options below.

Group health insurance

Traditionally, a group health insurance policy plays a significant role in recruiting and retaining employees. However, it can also be highly time-consuming and expensive for organizations and employees.

Because you’re offering group health insurance to both full-time and part-time gig workers (not to mention different income levels, ages, and health statuses), you’ll have a hard time finding a policy that fits all of your employees’ needs.

Thankfully, there are other options for providing health benefits to your full and part-time employees.

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)

One option that’s growing in popularity is a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). HRAs have the same tax advantages as group health insurance while giving employers more control over their budget.

Employers offer a monthly tax-free benefit allowance that employees can use for eligible medical expenses. This can include health insurance premiums and prescriptions. Employers can decide if they want to reimburse premiums only or include out-of-pocket expenses as well.

Because HRAs reimburse employees for their health expenses, employees can choose the individual health insurance plan that’s best for them as long as it meets minimum essential coverage (MEC).

With an HRA, you can even include your part-time employees in the benefit.

The three most popular HRA types available are:

Take our HRA quiz to see which one meets your organization’s needs.

Health stipends

Instead of offering an HRA or group health insurance, some organizations pay their employees a stipend allowance to help cover their health costs. Health stipends, or perks, come with fewer regulations and are more flexible for businesses.

You can reimburse employees for their healthcare expenses, much like an HRA, but without submitting receipts for approval. This makes a health stipend easy to manage.

Health stipends are best for organizations with employees who receive federal premium tax credits. Employees can keep their tax credits while also taking advantage of the health stipend.

However, health stipends count as taxable income on an employee’s W-2. And you’ll have to pay payroll taxes on these stipend payments.

Wellness benefits

An often-overlooked perk for attracting and retaining employees is a wellness benefit. Wellness benefits are essential in the modern gig economy. As MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefits Trends Study 2021 found, employee wellbeing is forecasted to have the biggest impact on workplaces.

People often pick up gig work for flexibility and to focus on their wellbeing and work-life balance. Offering a wellness benefit, such as a wellness stipend, is a great way to attract these workers and improve your organization’s overall productivity.

With a wellness stipend, you can offer your full and part-time employees different monthly allowances for their wellness expenses. This can include reimbursement for gym memberships, yoga classes, exercise equipment, and more.

Remote work benefits

Allowing your employees to work from home is a great incentive that boosts productivity.

Remote work remains widespread even with millions of Americans returning to work in physical offices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found 11.1% of workers were fully remote in December 2021. Many more part-time and freelance employees choose to be remote.

While remote work is a perk, offering additional benefits is extremely important in the gig economy. Employers can reimburse employees for their home office costs with a remote work stipend, such as internet and cell phone bills. This helps ensure that your remote employees have a stable internet connection to complete their tasks.

A remote work stipend can also reimburse part-time and full-time employees for their home office setup costs.

Conclusion

To attract and retain talent in the gig economy, you’ll need to provide benefits to part-time and full-time employees to remain competitive. Knowing the different types of benefits available to gig workers will help you ensure that your employees are set up for success.

Want to offer your employees health, wellness, or remote work stipends without taking on the stress of figuring it all out yourself? Our WorkPerks personalized benefits solutions can help you set up a new employee perk stipend in only a few minutes every month.

Schedule a call with one of our personalized benefits advisors to see how employee benefits fit your organization’s needs.

Originally published on March 9, 2022. Last updated March 30, 2022.
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