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Why a Stellar Employee Experience for Gig Workers Matters

By Michelle Gouldsberry
January 10, 2023
4 minute read

How do you get deep insight into the state of your workforce when it’s primarily composed of deskless service providers? Welcome to one of the fundamental HR challenges for companies operating in the “gig” space: creating a unifying and empowering company culture when the employee experience can be radically different from one person to the next, depending on their role.

Engaging these workers is essential to delivering high-quality and consistent customer service that reflects company values and brand. The need will only become more pressing: In 2022, about 40% of workers in the United States had side gigs according to Deloitte, and that number is expected to grow, not only in the States, but globally.

Betterworks recently added one of the pioneers of the gig economy to our customer roster. This multinational, multibillion-dollar industry leader selected Betterworks to support its new lightweight, check-in-based performance process for almost 10,000 gig workers (and their corporate team as well). And while most companies operating in the gig economy consider themselves tech companies at heart — their app-based on-demand work platforms are, after all, the foundation of the consumer connection  — the most enduring and successful companies in this category know that their people, both full-time and gig alike, are their ultimate competitive advantage.

Address gig workers’ unique employee experience challenges

Most US-based gig companies don’t employ drivers as full-time W-2 employees, but ensuring that gig workers are considered and prioritized in the design of the employee experience is essential to achieving the key business results that impact your bottom line. And this can be a unique challenge for this particular segment of workers. 

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, gig workers face unique challenges that are rooted in the structure of the work — making their experiences wholly different from and oftentimes far more volatile than those of their “corporate” counterparts. While some of these point to the lack of income predictability and administrative infrastructure that are the hallmarks of full-time employment, others highlight the notable lack of social supports and consistent relationships that can both make work rewarding, and help people navigate more challenging economic conditions.

But these challenges also provide a unique opportunity for companies to engage workers in ways their competition doesn’t. 

Our customer recognized that their performance management processes represented an opportunity to bring these workers into the fold while also boosting the business. By collecting feedback, facilitating more frequent manager-worker conversations, and ensuring that drivers feel supported by managers and engaged with the company, the company could increase driver retention, improve service quality, and ultimately, drive customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.

Receiving a consistently high-quality service experience is an important factor in earning customer trust and loyalty, and enabling great driver performance is an important strategy to that end. Retaining drivers means you have the capacity to grow — and meet the ongoing needs of your highest-value customers while continuing to add new ones. You can invest less in recruiting new drivers, and redirect those dollars toward customer acquisition instead.

Performance management for gig workers delivers competitive advantage

Too often, however, companies don’t view their deskless employees as key stakeholders in designing performance management processes — especially when they’re legally classified as contractors. But developing some way to consistently check in, get feedback, and glean insights into day-to-day driver field operations, such as health and safety information, that help you identify areas for improvement and actually implement change — is essential for staying competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Solve top business challenges with modern performance management

What are the most common performance management challenges that gig economy companies face today, and how can you address them?

CHALLENGE #1: You have a decentralized “field” of service providers who may or may not be W-2 employees — but ultimately represent your brand and the “face” of the business to your customers. You have little insight into their performance and what’s actually happening in the field day to day. 

SOLUTION: Take your performance management process out of your HCM. If every person can’t easily access it from a mobile device without creating a permissions nightmare for your IT team — it’s the wrong solution. Approach performance process design with your deskless worker population in mind as a key constituency. Select a purpose-built solution that’s customizable for what you’re looking to accomplish.

CHALLENGE #2: Macro-environmental factors make for feast or famine when it comes to growth, but your business — and tech stack — must be prepared for anything and capable of scaling quickly and efficiently. 

SOLUTION: Prioritize scalability. Don’t just choose the platform that works for your business today — choose the platform that’s going to work for your business in one, three, and 5 years. Finding a technology that can support your growth, including expansion into new markets and jurisdictions, will ensure that your program team can focus on driving adoption and results versus constantly managing change.

CHALLENGE #3: You’re having a hard time retaining contractors and want to reduce turnover and the costs associated with ongoing recruiting. 

SOLUTION: Design an employee experience that makes gig workers prefer your company. From a contractor’s point of view, driving and delivery look pretty similar, no matter which brand they’re representing. It’s the combination of pay, benefits, perks, and experience that you uniquely offer that makes the difference. Bring them into the fold, make them feel heard, and authentically support them as individuals and representatives of your brand to separate your business from the pack and become the employer of choice. You never know — maybe some of them will become your most valued W-2 employees one day!

We’re thrilled to support one of the world’s top food delivery companies as they work to create competitive advantage through superior employee experience and actionable performance insights. Reach out today to learn more about how we can support your workers and help your team create a better experience for everyone.

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