The gig economy has come under constant fire in the past year, and rightfully so. Giants like Uber have been exposed for abysmal treatment of their workers and their toxic cultures.
However, these aren’t the only factors giving gig companies a bad rap. With low pay and no opportunities for advancement, these on-demand positions are viewed by many workers as “jobs between jobs.” People tend to put up with these horrible conditions only to make ends meet.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, I believe 2018 is the year the positive aspects of a gig job (such as flexibility) can combine with the stability of a full-time position to create a better gig economy all around.
New Standards for Gig Employment
As new industries embrace the on-demand model, huge gig companies are being held more accountable. However, the system still needs a makeover before on-demand jobs can become truly rewarding. Here are the standards the gig economy needs to meet:
1. Companies Need to Value Their Contractors
The gig economy is characterized by rapid contractor turnover. If companies actually invested in their workers, it would lead to loyal employees who produce higher-quality work.
To start, employers should provide training, advancement opportunities, and benefits to gig workers. That’s just the basics. You should also foster caring relationships with your contract employees — after all, they spend almost as much (if not more) time at work than they do with their families. By acknowledging rockstar employees with small perks, throwing happy hours to celebrate company milestones, or just having regular check-ins with workers, you’ll make your workplace an environment where people feel valued and supported.
2. Employees Need to Value Their Employers
When an employer invests in its employees, that demonstrates that the company trusts its workers. When an employee invests in the company, they’re answering with trust of their own.
Whether it’s a coffee meeting, a daily check-in, or a quick weekly review, it is important to put time and energy into building relationships with contract workers. If gig economy companies treated their workers like the assets they are, employees would view their jobs as prestigious and stay in their positions longer — instead of taking gig economy jobs to tide themselves over until they can find traditional employment.
3. Gig Companies Need More Diverse Economic Models
Gig economy companies avoid payroll taxes and providing benefits by making all employees part-time. While many gig workers like the flexibility, others would love the option for full-time employment with company benefits. Organizations operating in the gig economy should adapt models that suit the modern worker. Offer a part-time track for workers who need flexible schedules and a full-time opportunity for workers who want their positions to resemble the standard 9-5.
As gig companies rise to meet these standards, the whole US economy will change. Employment structures as we know them will shift to the benefit of today’s more diverse workforce. New models, companies, and industries are joining the gig economy mix every day.
And yet, many people still knock gig jobs. However, opening your job search to gig work could help you unearth opportunities you never considered before.
What to Look for in Your Next Gig Role
That being said, if you do broaden your search, you must measure opportunities according to a new metric. Here are three things to look for in your next gig job:
Does the company provide training or access to classes, or do you need prior experience? A company that doesn’t expect any training probably accepts a lower performance standard — a sign it doesn’t invest very seriously in its employees. In addition to onboarding, a company should present workers with continuous access to professional development opportunities. No matter where you are in your career, there’s always more to learn.
2. Higher Pay Rates
A stigma surrounding gig jobs is that anyone can do them, but as demand for the positions increases, so will their competitiveness. That won’t necessarily hurt you: Higher competition rates mean higher pay scales. Look for a company that recognizes your experience and skill set and pays you what you’re worth.
3. Specialized Industries
Leverage your skill set! Gig jobs are no longer limited to passenger driving and food delivery. Whatever your area of expertise, there’s likely an on-demand position for you —especially if you can offer an essential, niche service. Plus, you’re likely to open yourself to a better paycheck.
David Zamir is the founder of Nana.io.