My Startup Chose Not To Exploit Gig Economy Workers—Here’s Why
By making our employees W-2 workers with full benefits, we’ve helped them succeed and benefited our business
I’m well familiar with the initial lure of the gig economy. Five years ago this week, on September 14th 2015, my cofounder Jessica Beck and I launched our company, Hello Alfred. As entrepreneurs developing a service-based idea, everyone we spoke with championed the idea of “flexible” 1099 labor. Instead, we made a purposeful decision to buck the trend from the beginning, choosing instead to make every employee at Hello Alfred a W-2 worker with full benefits despite higher cost, complexity, and commitment, because of what that meant to our team and customers.
The sad reality of this moment is that all of us, from junior employees to executives, live with the hanging threat of job insecurity on the horizon.
We believe service is an art and the people who perform it are experts in their field, and truly, that’s made all the difference for us as we’ve pioneered a new industry built on trusting others to help in our homes. The growth, customer satisfaction, retention, and career progression of our employees are all a direct result of our determination to treat them as our number one customer.
The disadvantage between 1099 workers and their corporate kin are not as great as we may think over the long term. The reality of this moment in time is that all of us, from junior employees to executives, live with the threat of job insecurity on the horizon as technology displaces even the most sophisticated work. Contract workers are just able to see how thin the thread tethering them to gainful employment really is.
It’s our responsibility as a society to address this existential threat. Part of the solution rests with employers. A job without protection, training, and benefits is one that breeds continuous awareness of our own replaceability. Imagine some of these job postings if they were to be run through a truth machine? “Perform this task at a fraction of the rate you need to live, with no…