By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
The number of independent contractors and freelancers (also known as gig workers) has grown exponentially in recent years and is likely to continue accelerating as a result of COVID-19, with approximately 30 million Americans already receiving their primary income from gig work, according experts at Mercer. When COVID-19 hit, many U.S. businesses found themselves more reliant on independent workers as a part of their critical workforce. The trend toward an increase in the gig workforce is anticipated to continue as American workers search for non-traditional forms of employment that can offer more flexibility and a healthier lifestyle.
Given the labor shortage in the U.S., as organizations struggle with resourcing work, they need to cast a wide net to allow as many people as possible with the right skills engage with them, on their terms. Mercer believes that businesses can source a wider pool of talent by offering independent workers certain benefits similar to the benefits offered to their employees, such as direct access to a suite of personalized insurance and other professional benefits.
“Giving all the people who work for your company access to benefits is an effective way to attract, retain and engage your workforce,” said Ravin Jesuthasan, senior partner and global transformation leader at Mercer. “Companies need to consider extending access to a comprehensive suite of benefits to their independent and gig workforces, which are becoming an increasingly pivotal talent pool for companies across various industries. By enabling independent workers to focus on their work and developing the skills needed to contribute, as opposed to the administrative burden of shopping around for benefits, leading organizations are creating a loyalty loop with this critical workforce.”
Mercer found that 56 percent of independent contractors were interested or very interested in a single sign-on platform to access insurance products and services. Further, 69 percent were interested in a customized insurance bundle based on an analysis of personal needs—and were willing to pay for those services. “Gig or independent workers often are not eligible to receive employer-sponsored benefits, including health insurance, auto insurance, professional liability and more,” said Eric Bassett, senior partner and association and affinity leader at Mercer.
“The on-demand workforce is more in-demand than ever before, and gig work is increasingly seen as a strategic growth driver for organizations. COVID-19 accelerated this workforces’ criticality to businesses achieving their goals and long-term sustainability,” said Jesuthasan. “As business models shift, remote work continues to escalate, and flexibility becomes pivotal to the work experience; attracting, engaging and retaining gig workers will become more important to organizations.”
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