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Much has been written about sharing economy companies such as Uber and the like whose very core is fueled by a contingent workforce connected to consumers through a digital platform. But a recent report stresses that even more traditional employers are “reshaping their talent management initiatives” with the understanding that the definition of “contingent labor” itself has taken on a whole new meaning. The report – “The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2016-2017: Adapting to a New World of Work” – was published by Ardent Brothers (in conjunction with SAP Fieldglass) and includes a wealth of knowledge for businesses trying to “thrive in this new corporate paradigm.”

The sharing economy is attractive to many transgender employees who fear discrimination in traditional workforces. But are sharing economy employers required to provide them with any special protections? With the employment status of workers in the sharing economy in legal limbo, a question facing many employers is whether state and federal antidiscrimination laws apply to workers. Some states, such as California, specifically protect transgender individuals, and so any discriminatory action by a customer against a transgender individual will be prohibited by law. In most states, however, the situation is less settled.

Uber’s inventive management style continues to be a topic of conversation in the gig economy world. In the wake of the $100M Uber class action litigation settlement being rejected (primarily due to monetary terms), a new case study explores Uber’s inventive use of “algorithmic management” to incentivize workers toward specific behaviors in order to achieve its desired result – providing exceptional service to its customers.

Employee engagement is a vital component to any business.  Having your employees focused on the strategic aims of your company, and not distracted by an unsatisfying work environment is key. Employers have long used employee surveys and focus groups to gain employee feedback in an effort to gauge their employees’ satisfaction with their workplace. Gig economy employers are no different; however, not surprisingly, some are approaching this issue in new and innovative ways.

In Season 3 of Netflix’s animated series BoJack Horseman, Todd (Aaron Paul) decides to start a gig economy company called “Cabracadabra.” This company provides Uber-like transportation but with only women drivers so that there is a “safe space” for women passengers in the transportation gig economy. Although this idea comes from a cartoon (and may have other problems in concept under various other antidiscrimination laws) it addresses a concern in the gig economy: consumer safety and vicarious liability. In other words, when someone is performing services in the gig economy for a consumer and something goes wrong, where does the consumer turn for recourse? Can gig economy companies avoid all responsibility for the acts of their contractors? 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal watchdog agency patrolling the nation for workplace law violations, recently announced its intention to target younger workers to see if they feel victimized by religious discrimination. To that end, the agency created a one-page information sheet released on July 22 intended to educate younger workers about their rights under federal law when it comes to religious discrimination, harassment, and accommodations. Because the gig economy uses a workforce that skews somewhat younger, it seems likely that you will need to understand your obligations with respect to this area of law or face legal consequences.

The Gig economy is revolutionizing the employment arena and, as noted in our recent blog post, it shows no sign of slowing down or waiting for others to catch up. One change that is front and center is the evolution of traditional hiring methods. Many gig employers are transitioning away from the traditional paper applications and short in-person interviews where a candidate is asked standard questions such as “what do you bring to the table;“ or “where do you think you’ll be in five years;” or, my personal favorite, “what’s your biggest flaw?”

It is estimated that more than one in three Americans currently perform some freelance work, whether as a supplement to their day jobs, or as their full-time gig. We all know (because the media tells us) that millennial workers are flocking to freelance work. But a changing work culture means that more experienced workers are also embracing “free-range employment,” either by choice or necessity.

Just last week, Airbnb, an online marketplace for people to list, find and book lodging around the world, permanently banned a host in North Carolina after the host cancelled an African-American guest’s reservation and used racial slurs against her.

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