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May 27 — While employee benefits are often used as a tool for attracting and retaining workers, the growing gig economy is showing that employee benefits may matter less to gig workers at different stages of life, sources told Bloomberg BNA.
“As with all employer benefits, everybody values them differently,” Greg Waldorf, chief executive officer at Invoice2go, told Bloomberg BNA May 26. Younger workers tend to see more job flexibility and may consider benefits a “nice to have,” he said, while workers with children may be more inclined to seek out jobs with benefits. “It all depends on the context of your life,” he said.
People who are independent contractors want more flexibility and greater control over their careers, so they may be willing to forgo traditional company benefits like health insurance and paid holidays, said Waldorf, whose company Invoice2go is an app that allows workers to invoice clients and get paid.
According to a survey conducted by Invoice2go of its users, roughly 31 percent of those responding said that their main concern as an independent worker or business owner was a lack of employee benefits, contrasted with 66.53 percent who said their biggest concern was inconsistent cash-flow.
“I do think that people who pursue this type of work, they’re very clear about what they do want,” Waldorf said. “They know that they want to have more control over their career and their life and I suspect that they’re willing to give something up in exchange for that.”
Jo-Anne Bloch, team leader of Mercer's global innovation hub in Hoboken, N.J., told Bloomberg BNA May 26 that she is seeing the same thing from independent contractors. Those at the beginning and the end of their careers tend to value benefits less than those in the middle of their careers, she said.
Mercer came up with its own way to employ independent contractors through a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercer called Mercer PeoplePRO and through establishing that company, they learned a lot of important things about what independent contractors want out of their arrangements, Bloch said.
“We were interviewing people, what do you want, what’s going to make it work for you,” she said. “We heard very clearly that the training and the ease of doing business was going to be really important. The benefits weren’t a big issue.”
The lessening emphasis on benefits had something to do with the fact that a lot of the contractors being hired were retirees who were looking to “stay connected” and continue working in a flexible capacity, Bloch said.
“Quite clearly at the end of the career, benefits are much less important,” she said. The same goes for those starting out, but Mercer PeoplePro is looking at whether a lack of traditional benefits is a problem for “anyone in between,” she said.
Bloch said on a much broader scale, employers will need to start thinking about how they approach benefits for gig workers and all workers.
“I think there is a broader question,” Bloch said. “Traditional workers want more flexibility. The flex workers want a little more security and more benefits.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Ricaurte Knebel in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Invoice2go survey is at http://src.bna.com/fpy.
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