Growing gig economy: What are worker needs and HRD expectations

Growing gig economy: What are worker needs and HRD expectations

A new report from Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, s

A new report from Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, shows that gig workers are looking for a balance between stability and flexibility – but have yet to find it. The report, Gig Economy: Financial Security or Greater Control’, examined the issues by asking views of gig workers and HR directors from across Europe, in order to help organisations better understand potential impacts of this growing workforce.

The research found that 26% of European HR directors believe that in five years’ time their workforces will comprise 51-75% gig workers, while 18% of UK HRDs believe 75% or more of their workforce will be made up of contractors over the same period.

The report was developed from 500 interviews with three groups of people: 200 HR directors, 150 B2B/white collar gig workers and 150 B2C/blue collar gig workers.  They were interviewed from across France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Alongside the more traditional B2B gig workers, there has also been the emergence of B2C gig workers, who connect customers to products and services. Their employers include Amazon, Deliveroo and Airbnb.

The report found that:

  • 66% of gig workers say it is important to plan financially for the future as well as enjoying the present.
  • 64% say security and stability are important to them.
  • 54% are worried about their future and finances.

The research also found:

  • If they were offered an attractive health and benefits package 67% of gig workers would be more likely to recommend a company to friends as a good place to work.
  • Benefits also have the potential to make gig workers more effective at work – 67% would feel more engaged and positive towards the company they are working for if they were offered benefits, while 66% said they would feel more valued.
  • When asked about what was important when choosing a role as a contractor at one company over another, 73% of women and 66% of men stated they wanted a comprehensive package of benefits, including for example, income protection insurance, maternity/paternity pay and life insurance.
  • Convenience and location also rated higher for women at 73% compared to 59% for men. Women also rated flexible working hours more important to them than their male counterparts (74% vs 59%).
  • In the UK, gig workers are most keen on portable products – 40% would like a benefits package that easily transfers between different companies.

Andrew Cunningham, chief commercial officer, EMEA Health Solutions, Aon, said:

“If businesses want to continue to draw upon the responsive talents and skills of gig workers, they need a better understanding of the economic outlook that this group of workers will face in a post-COVID-19 world. The reality is, that the pandemic has already had a considerable impact on them. While some are operating our delivery services, food, transport and sanitation industries – and have proved to be vital to running our economies – the same can’t be said for white collar gig workers where the pandemic, in some cases, has been devastating for their work.

“Businesses should be concerned about their responsibility and duty of care towards their gig workforce. If we are to get the best out of people, gig workers and traditional employees need to be treated equally, regardless of their contracts. Both groups are likely to have similar concerns, financial pressures and commitments.”

Across Europe, 37% of B2B gig workers said the company for which they work the most currently provides benefit options, although just 24% of B2C workers said the same.

The top five benefits gig workers are currently offered are:

  • B2B – 24% training and development, 27% pension benefits, 27% sick pay, 24% paid holiday allowance, 23% employee discount.
  • B2C – 29% maternity/paternity pay, 25% training and development, 24% critical illness cover, 24% disability insurance, 24% private health/medical.

However, the benefits they would value most are:

  • B2B – 23% training and personal development opportunities, 23% sick pay, 19% income protection, 19% life insurance and 18% professional indemnity insurance.
  • B2C – 21% accidental death and disablement insurance, 19% income protection insurance, 19% training and personal development opportunities, 19% professional indemnity insurance, 19% public liability insurance.
  • 15% of both B2B and B2C gig workers would value paid holiday allowance and 14% would value pension benefits.

Matt Lawrence, chief broking officer, EMEA Health Solutions, Aon, said:

“The factors driving the exponential growth of the gig economy will force businesses to address frameworks and structures that have previously created a two-tier system within the workforce.

“More than two-thirds of gig workers said they would feel more engaged and positive towards the company they worked for if it offered an attractive health and benefits package. While legal and regulatory factors might play a part in an organisation’s thinking around benefit provision for gig workers, organisations can’t afford to have a blind spot when it comes to attracting talent as we look to the future.

“If businesses are going continue to be resilient and thrive in the future, they should be actively listening to all sections of their workforce. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Organisations may not even need to provide the solution, but instead, commit to signposting gig workers to help and support that enriches their wellbeing. If organisations can plug in benefits that further supplement that, then their offering can become even stronger.”

Access the full Gig Economy report here.

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