Freelance work and the gig economy are on the rise, and experts predict these trends will continue. Companies employing independent workers need to update their practices to support this growing portion of their talent pool. 

From 2005 - 2015, 94 per cent of the net employment growth in the U.S. was in “alternative work arrangements”. Recent projections suggest that in the next decade, the majority of Americans will be independent workers.

Employers are increasingly using freelancers to complete short-term projects, provide geographic reach, and augment their staff during busy seasons. But labor is only half of the equation -- companies employing independent workers need to update their practices to support this growing portion of their talent pool. 

Strong talent development, retainment efforts and a positive organisational culture, should extend to independent workers as much as possible. As ShiftGig CEO Wade Burgess has said, “While contingent workers may not be permanent, employer branding will continue to be important as you’ll want to maintain favorability as a workplace of choice.”

At Samaschool we’re always trying to think about about new ways to help companies hiring independent workers benefit both their workforce and their business. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Virgin Unite, 100% Human at Work, Samaschool

Virgin Unite, 100% Human at Work, Samaschool

Tip #1: Extend anti-discrimination protections to independent workers

While employees are protected in the U.S. from discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, independent workers are not, and the same is true across the world. Companies can create their own policies to show commitment to upholding basic protections from discrimination for independent workers – and from retaliation if an incident is reported. These policies can extend to broadly cover how independent workers are treated in the workplace – hopefully with much of the same support and resources enjoyed by employees.

Tip #2: Offer perks and other incentives

Consider how you can be an employer of choice not only for employees, but for independent workers too. For example, Lyft recently partnered with Guild to offer reduced tuition and access to financial aid for drivers who want to pursue higher education. Many companies provide access to discount programs through groups like Working Advantage and PerkSpot in the U.S. 

If your company offers these types of programs for employees, you might consider extending them to contractors to support their development and to incentivize them to work with you.

Virgin Unite, 100% Human at Work, Samaschool

Virgin Unite, 100% Human at Work, Samaschool

Tip #3: Team up with a professional development partner

If you’re not ready to offer an education incentive, consider connecting your independent workers to training through a partner organisation. If your company is one of the many that are unbundling job functions and hiring independent workers in increasing numbers, you’ll want them to continue to build skills during their time with you, especially if you want to retain them for multiple contracts. While companies can’t directly provide training to contractors, you can make them aware of high-quality learning opportunities available to them. There are many ways your company can support contractors and while this will benefit them it will also reflect positively on your culture and brand. 

- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 


Read more from our 100% Human at Work series - powered by The B Team and Virgin Unite

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