Corporate America is Helping to Support Contingent Workers
How firms treat their employees, especially during a crisis such as the Coronavirus, shapes consumers’ perception and their ongoing and commitment to these organizations. Based on research conducted by the case authors, internal policies and procedures related to employee treatment are more valued by the public than philanthropic activities.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees trust their employer to “do the right thing” related to their welfare and wellbeing. In fact, 75% of employees indicated they trust their employer above non-governmental organizations, business in general, the government, and the media. Public perception is greatly influenced by how companies treat all workers, not just full-time employees. When we come out of this period of economic uncertainty, the companies who treat their employees with integrity and high standards of ethical conduct will be able to retain and attract the best employees.
We can look to what an increasing number of major companies are doing for evidence that corporations are mindful of the importance of this issue:
- According to The Washington Post, Google and Facebook will continue to pay their contingent workers and will apply their policies for contract employees to them. This decision will keep these workers 'whole' and not cause them to leave for another job to pay the bills. Google has also extended these policies to work with temporary workers and vendors to make sure that their normal compensation would be covered. These commitments can be very large — for example, Google contractors totaled around 121,000 whereas regular employees were just over 100,000.
- Amazon is making the same commitment to all hourly employees and subsidizing the rent for local, small businesses that operate inside their corporate headquarters. These small businesses would likely go out of business with Amazon workers at home.
- Microsoft will pay its 4,500 hourly workers their normal pay, even if their services are not required during work-at-home transitions. Apple, too, has committed to paying unlimited sick leave for workers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Starbucks will pay all of their employees for 30 days, whether they work or not.
- The gig economy provides some unique challenges as these workers are independent contractors and not company employees with full benefit packages. Uber and Lyft have indicated a commitment to helping their contractors engage in 'social distancing' — not engaging in work that requires direct contact with a customer or another employee who has the virus. Both companies have said they will compensate workers who need to be quarantined or contract the virus.
- It is estimated that 70% of low wage workers do not receive paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to USA Today, Olive Garden and Long Horn Steak House are now offering 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work.
As the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, business viability will be tested as companies balance a wide variety of evolving financial and health-related demands. Companies are increasingly recognizing the hardship this pandemic is placing on the workforce and are 'stepping up' to take care of contingent workers.
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