How Gig and Contract Workers Can Access Benefits

What two years we’ve had, eh? The historic pandemic has put the business world through the proverbial wringer, and things are still evolving – for the most part. Some changes COVID-19 has wrought are likely here to stay, at least for the long haul.

In addition to a shift toward remote work, one such change is the accelerated proliferation of gig and contract workers. Indeed, the pandemic has spurred a Great Awakening; people are reimagining where and how they want to work. Some have dropped out of the labor force altogether, and many others have cobbled together lives doing contract and freelance work.

The result is a very tight labor market, in which organizations are scrambling to recruit and retain talent. In the interim, because they still need work performed, many companies are turning to these independent and part-time workers. However, it’s now time to give these workers benefits. As we say, people have more choices than ever about where to work, so it would behoove you to support them.

Here’s how gig and contract workers can access benefits – and more.

Gig Work

According to the Pew Research Center, in a report about the state of gig work in 2021, 16 percent of U.S. residents have at some point earned money through an online gig platform, and 9 percent were current or recent gig workers. What’s more, 31 percent of current or recent gig workers reported that the work they performed was their main source of income over the previous 12 months. For those with lower incomes, gig work was the primary source of income for 42 percent.

In the survey, conducted last August, the reasons for taking on these jobs included:

  • 56 percent wanted to save extra money
  • 52 percent needed to cover gaps or changes in income
  • 49 percent said the draw was being able to control their schedule
  • 35 percent wanted to be their own boss
  • 32 percent said their gig work was for fun or for something to do in their spare time
  • 28 percent said their work was due to a lack of job opportunities in their area

Benefits for Gig and Contract Workers

For all the advantages of performing gig, contract, freelance, or independent work – some of the key plusses are mentioned above – the lack of healthcare coverage has always been the biggest drawback. But to lure and keep this growing pool of workers, employers must step up and begin providing something akin to employee benefit programs.

According to a Mercer survey of some 3,000 on-demand workers in the fields of financial services, professional, allied health, and education:

  • 66 percent were interested or very interested in a one-stop shop online platform where insurance and services can be bought.
  • 72 percent expressed interest in a customized insurance bundle. Of those, 59 percent want the bundle to be based on an evaluation of their needs, and 13 percent were interested in a bundle recommended for “people like me.”
  • Health insurance was ranked by respondents as most important, followed by auto insurance, homeowner insurance, dental insurance, and life insurance.
  •  Regarding insurance, respondents were most interested in cost, followed by coverage options, flexibility, and personalized recommendations and bundles.

Now that you know about gig and contract workers and access to benefits, you can go about putting a program in place that will help you attract and retain such workers We know that the platform Mercer Indigo offers a suite of benefits that usually only employees can access, along with turn-key marketing and compliance reporting.

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