Millennial workers are leading the drive toward more flexible employment, the "gig economy," but changes to the workplace for more flexibility have also seen a reduction in workers' rights, compensation, and job security.
The question of how to ensure that freelance gig, task-compensated, and temp hourly workers can have more security in their employment is one of the most central economic issues we face today.
Uber is perhaps the best-known culprit; it has come under serious and unrelenting fire for its continuous cuts to its' drivers' pay, as well as for overall treating them as eminently replaceable commodities. But, even as Uber seeks a new CEO and drastic changes to its all of its policies, it remains just one example symptom of this wider issue.
What this demands is that companies - and the government's regulatory bodies - begin to look at work in a new way, rather than simply trying to tinker with existing regulations.
One new way put forward is to create more stable independent-contractor based ecosystems - with their own currency, hiring rules, and benefits exchange options - that companies using the platform's ecosystem must abide by. The idea is for a win-win: independent contractor users get a better deal and more stability through the platform than on their own, while employers get a much larger - and ideally better quality - pool of labor.
One such ecosystem is Hyr, a New York-based startup in my own portfolio, which believes companies will see the benefits in being an elective participant in these ecosystems, if the worker quality is higher and more numerous than what they usually see.
"Fear around the independent contractor model stems from the notion that 1099s do not receive the securities of traditional full-time W2 employment, such as health benefits. Yet, fact is, these professionals themselves are opting for the freedom and flexibility that comes with contract work. We designed Hyr to help these individuals find a side hustle in order to supplement their income. That said, our company has embraced the responsibility of educated professionals that are working in the 1099 economy - 1099s on Hyr collect UPoints with every shift they work, which can be saved or redeemed for paid days off," said Joshua Karam, CEO of Hyr.
Ultimately, there are tantalizing directions a platform like this can take, with vast impacts for labor. Can a platform ecosystem have its own saving system retirement? Can it help bridge employer-employee differences on leisure time by regulating users' vacation through the platform? Can it use its force to both benefit workers - say by forcing companies on its platforms to adhere to safety rules higher than the legal Federal standard - as well as for employers, perhaps in areas like truancy and drug testing?