Why does the gig economy need to be fixed?
I see the gig economy as a pretty simple equation.
On one side is demand, fuelled by customers needing rides, deliveries, tasks, or services.
On the other side is supply, fuelled by the people who pour their energy and time into powering these services.
Today, the unfortunate reality is that the gig economy looks out for its demand, and neglects its supply.
In practice, this means that gig economy companies view gig workers as replaceable commodities. Ultimately, they don’t care who’s driving the car to pick up the customer.
The problem that this creates is twofold. Firstly — for gig workers — this means that your priorities and challenges are never top of mind for the companies you’re servicing. Secondly — for gig companies — a “replaceable” gig worker often needs to be replaced, at a huge cost.
When we propose building a more balanced gig economy that favors its workers, we’re also proposing that this is in the best interest of the gig companies, not just gig workers.
So if the problem is simple enough to understand, why hasn’t it been solved yet?
My perspective is that gig companies have not factored in the positive impact on their businesses from having a more retained (or “loyal”) gig workforce.
When they approach topics like portable benefits or in-app features that favor worker choice, they only consider the costs and not the benefits of these choices.
Today, Uber and Lyft commonly experience worker churn rates above 80% annually. That’s to say that more than 80% of the drivers that sign up for these apps, eventually move on to something else. Sometimes, they move on to other gig apps, sometimes they move on from the gig economy all together.
To replace these lost workers, these gig companies are constantly spending millions of dollars in each city they operate in to pump out sign-up incentives and marketing campaigns.
What if their worker churn could be significantly reduced? What if workers entering the gig economy legitimately saw a sustainable career path that they could commit to for 10+ years?
Ultimately, a sustainable gig economy requires a sustainable gig workforce. And a sustainable gig workforce needs to be able to live a reasonable lifestyle on the back of their contributed work.
In working to solve these fundamental problems, we also discovered that being a gig worker is hard enough, to begin with, and on top of that, you put up with terrible product experiences through which you earn and manage your money, and you have limited options when life throws you a curveball. That felt like a great place for us to start working.