07 Dec Flexible Careers with Benefits
Imagine a future without reliable work. People live in constant fear their temporary job will end suddenly, leaving them with nothing. Even when they are employed, they can’t afford their family’s most basic needs. For years, the workers neglect their bodies, forgoing exams to detect risky health problems in advance. Who could afford the expense?
Now, picture a future where workers live life on their own terms by exploring flexible career options. These individuals have genuinely affordable resources to care for the bodies and minds of both themselves and their families. These valued workers may not have education beyond high school, but their quality of life is good. They are proud to be respected, contributing members of society despite their less traditional career path.
As the labor market continues to embrace short-term and freelance work over permanent jobs in what is known as the “gig economy”, critics and thought leaders are trying to predict what the
future of employment will look like.
Personal views aside, evidence suggests our gig economy will only continue to grow. More than one out of every three workers in the United States is a gig employee, according to a recent Gallup poll estimate. By 2020, 40% of workers are predicted to be contingent.
However critics may frame these facts, it turns out millennials actually like the concept of the gig and temporary economies, particularly the flexibility it provides.
Beginning in the industrial revolution, manufacturing and industrial companies have been accused of deprioritizing the needs of workers to line their own pockets. The emerging gig economy presents an opportunity to improve the lives of our contingent workforce, especially some of the most vulnerable members who are entry-level with minimal education.
The reality is our society has stigmatized the “temporary” worker. In general, short-term gig workers don’t have benefits, make lower wages and have historically struggled to build meaningful careers. Individuals working with staffing agencies are often perceived as desperate, or even contemptible.
Today, we have the opportunity to provide legitimacy for contingent workers, as well as tangible benefits and security. The rise of the gig economy has made it possible to create a win-win scenario for businesses and contingent laborers.
Before we formulate a win-win solution, we must first determine how we can meet the needs of our workers.
So, what can we provide our workforce?
Aligning our offers to meet the needs of our employees gives us a definitive recruiting advantage in addition to being simply the right thing to do. We must provide the benefits that will most meaningfully enhance the lives of our people.
Our employees’ quality of life is important to us. The Ōnin Group has poured significant thought and research into determining meaningful benefits for the contingent workforce. We have invested in extensive surveys and the services of independent workforce experts. These were our findings:
Millennials’ love of flexibility is one of the reasons the temporary economy and the contingent workforce have continued to expand. Flexible job options allow millennial parents (and Generation Z parents in the near future) to spend time focused on their young children and other important life events. It gives them agency in their lives, the freedom to create and explore their careers, and the ability to determine their destiny on their own terms.
With this in mind, we’re trying to change the societal perceptions of our contingent workers.
We have designed our 2019 benefits plan to equip our contingent workers (Teammates) with the flexibility they desire while truly accommodating for their needs. We’ve always recognized the important role benefits play in our contingent workers’ lives and have taken care to provide some of the industry’s best. But in 2019, we realized making healthcare resources radically accessible and affordable to our people was the obvious next step in our benefits’ evolution.
Provide for real needs
Everyone needs healthcare. Workers want to be able to afford primary care, specialist and urgent care services and have the ability to purchase prescription medication for themselves and their families.
For entry-level, blue-collar workers, affording these basics has been historically difficult.
Shelling out $30 in co-pays for visits and an additional
$30 for prescription medication isn’t feasible for many families. For a single mother beginning her career as an entry-level worker at $10 an hour, one visit to the doctor represents six hours of work.
Long waits at the doctor’s office lead to lost wages. The work-time cannot be made up and is counted against most contingent workers. Trying to avoid such strikes against their record, most workers will push through an illness rather than deal with missed time on the job.
As we redesigned our benefits package for 2019, we focused on alleviating these struggles. With our plan, Teammates and their family members can:
- Consult with a board-certified doctor for free from the convenience of their phone or laptop with our teledoctor program. Teledoctor physicians can diagnose and write prescriptions for our Teammates
- Visit their primary care physician with just a $5 co-pay
- Receive unlimited free checkups and preventative healthcare visits
- Purchase all generic prescriptions with just a $5 copay
Teammates can likewise utilize Ōnin’s vision plan to:
- Earn a $100 allowance for glasses
- Update lenses for only a $25 copay
Additionally, Teammates have access to our dental plan, which includes free preventive services.
Our 2019 benefits plan is a game changer. Being able to talk to a doctor for free at home or in the office for a $5 copay is unheard of in our industry and for contingent workers. We want our Teammates to remain healthy and productive for years to come.
We hope to have a real impact on their lives.
Physical health is critical, but with the rise of depression and anxiety cases, our employees’ psychological health needs are imperative.
In our surveys, we found people, especially millennials, are conscious of their mental health and want more access to these resources. With this in mind, we’ve provided free access to certified counselors who are available to talk 24/7/365 for our workers through our Employee Assistance Program.
The IKEA Effect
People want to contribute and feel like they are a part of something.
The IKEA effect describes a cognitive bias in which people disproportionately value things they’ve actively worked on. In 2011, a group of researchers from Harvard, Yale and Duke conduct- ed experiments that demonstrated people like items more when
they’ve helped build them and will pay higher prices for self-assembly products. And yes, the effect references the popular Swedish furniture company, IKEA, and its exasperatingly complex furniture.
Assembling all those pieces of plastic, wood and metal together to create a piece of furniture makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something important and are co-creators of something good and useful. It’s an empowering feeling.
But what does this have to do with workers? Companies can encourage people to take ownership of their jobs. Keeping the IKEA effect in mind we must ask ourselves, how can we create opportunities for our workers to contribute and take pride in their role?
We partner with our clients to develop programs that sustain and encourage workers as a part of a company. Providing people with the tools to take ownership of their lives and careers is crucial.
A Company With A Humanitarian Heart
Keeping the IKEA Effect in mind, individuals want to feel like they are helping to better communities and their world that serves a higher cause, even at work.
Our mission as a company is “creating opportunity and empowering people”. And while we like to think matching good people with good jobs falls into this category, we go beyond our boundaries.
Ōnin’s Seeds Initiative allows us to empower people throughout the United States and the world through a number of charitable contributions and services. Our Ōninites and Teammates take pride in finding a greater sense of belonging by being connected with a company with a purpose. Rallying your people around a purpose that’s bigger than simply making money is well worth considering.
Opportunities for Growth
Career growth is very important to workers, especially millennials. In fact, 87% reported professional development was important to them in seeking a job, according to a Gallup report.
While some employees are happy to simply job hop, many young people hope to develop a career over time. Providing workers with the tools to learn, grow and advance are ways to motivate employees while providing long-term benefits. Our Employee Assistance Program provides access to soft skill development tools. Likewise, we provide a Teammate scholarship for continuing their education, whether they choose to attend trade school, traditional college or other professional programs. Our Workforce Development programs seek and rewarding careers through real-world training and certification.
However, providing learning tools is only half the battle.
We must create a program for upward momentum for your motivated workers. It’s important for people to feel they can move to the “next level” if they excel at their current role. A pathway from temporary to permanent, and from their position to the next. This requires intelligent structuring of opportunities.
How we see the future
As the gig economy grows, we must create a vision for the future contingent labor force.
For us, it looks something like this:
- Short-term contingent workers: The average person stays with Ōnin for less than a year. During their tenure at Ōnin, we want this person to receive a wellness checkup, eyesight screening and get their teeth cleaned. We’ll invest in their soft skills and put them to work, giving them the tools they need to succeed in their field of choice.
- Career contingent workers: For individuals who desire flexibility and want to remain in the contingent workforce long-term, we’ll provide our excellent benefits package, including our affordable physical and mental health care benefits, holiday pay and vacation pay. When they are asked what they do for a career, these individuals can
to prepare high schoolers for profitable proudly reply, “I’m a contingent worker.
I have job flexibility and opportunities to grow. I have good health insurance, I visit the doctor when I need to. I get vacation and holiday pay, too. I love taking care of myself and my family on my own terms.”
- Contingent work as a stepping stone: For many ambitious young people, working in the contingent workforce is a stepping stone to full-time jobs and ultimately leadership positions. If Ōnin is a stepping stone for this person, we want to be the best company they ever stepped on. When this hard-working individual becomes a leader in their organization down the road, we hope they’ll remember their time at Ōnin fondly and pass on a legacy of great care and benefits to their team members.
The bottom line
Today’s employees are looking for benefits that meet their basic needs. They crave flexibility. They desire an opportunity to make a living wage. They want their work contributions to truly matter.
The economy is shifting, and we have a responsibility to our contingent labor force. There is an opportunity to improve the lives of our workforce, and we believe in being a staffing agency who truly cares and provides for its people. Ultimately, we believe partnering with staffing agencies who care for their people allows us all to flourish.