Benefits for Your Part-timers? It’s a Trend That’s Paying Off

The holiday season is fast approaching, and when it comes to retail, it can be difficult for employers to keep up with the hiring rush. The problem: Employers need to hire quickly while still finding quality candidates. During the stressful shopping season, another challenge arises with keeping employee morale up. Retail employees are customer-facing and directly responsible for a positive customer experience – a happy employee equals a happy brand.

It’s the same with the gig economy. Gig workers are also an extension of the company brand, and like full-time workers, they usually have the same responsibilities when it comes to interacting with clients. While the actual number of gig workers is highly debatable (the government estimated it at 7.9% in 2010),  short-term and freelance employment is trending up. Hiring and retaining top talent becomes even trickier here due to the shortage of workers and opportunities offered by freelance and flexible job sites.

An emerging solution? The part-time benefits package.

Technology is simplifying part-timer benefits

Big-name brands like Starbucks and UPS, who rely largely on part-time workers, are starting to offer their employees these packages to outshine competitors. Before, the morale boost wasn’t worth the additional administrative and cost barriers, but employers are finding a way around these roadblocks because evolving technology in the space is making it easier. Not only is benefits management technology becoming more prevalent, but also it enables a new variety of voluntary benefits.

Benefits packages now include enhanced parental leave, dental, critical illness insurance, tuition reimbursement, pet insurance, on-site child care and more – and they aren’t limited to full-time employees. For example, Uber recently partnered with investing service Betterment Inc. to offer its drivers access to retirement accounts, a first in the trending ride service space. With the promise of increased employee morale and financial wellness, part-time benefits packages are one answer to retaining top employees and maintaining a happier workforce overall as workplace standards evolve.

Amazon is responding to the recent hiring explosion in the tech industry by offering their part-time tech employees full-time benefits to compete for top talent. The company is shaking up traditional work hours by allowing employees to work during Amazon’s core hours of 10am to 2pm with additional flex work hours throughout the week, all while still receiving full-time benefits. The idea is to create a workplace that caters to employees and encourages them to want to stay.

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Some companies are also beginning to offer benefits to interns. The intern pool is often a strong resource for employers looking to hire candidates with fresh ideas. By offering health insurance, retirement plans and more, the chances of securing a permanent employee become greater.

Interns getting benefits

Most recently, Care.com announced a $500 limited benefit for gig-economy workers. The online marketplace connects families with caregivers on a freelance basis, and this new benefit provides workers with up to $500 a year for health care, transportation or education expenses to help offset the cost. In the near future, we’re sure to see other companies ramp up their part-time benefits packages to compete, perhaps even moving toward more out-of-the-box offerings.

If you’re an employer within the retail or gig-economy space, it’s worth it to consider offering part-time benefits packages. Considering the companies already doing that, it’s a trend that’s gaining strength; a part-time benefit package might be the deciding factor when it comes to your number one candidate.

Jeff Oldham has worked in the benefits industry for 19 years, focusing on technology, medical and ancillary benefits management, along with wellness and disease management. Jeff has been at Benefitfocus for over six years and leads the Benefitstore voluntary benefit consulting team.

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