More people are now classified as “independent workers,” or those who have chosen to forgo traditional jobs and work in either a contractor, freelancer, or gig capacity.
Currently, more than 30% of the workforce falls into this category. But projections are that more than half of the U.S. workforce will adopt freelance or gig roles, according to research from McKinsey.
These types of roles are attractive for several reasons, including increased flexibility, the ease of adding an additional income stream, and the ability to be your own boss.
But they also carry risks, such as a greater potential for an irregular cash flow, less income stability, and a lack of access to employer-paid health benefits, parental leave, holidays, and sick pay, according to “Meeting the Needs of Independent Workers at VanCity Credit Union,” a report from the Filene Research Institute.
This presents a new opportunity for credit unions, according to Filene.
“The independent workforce represents a growing working class with distinct motivations, experiences, vulnerabilities, and opportunities,” according to the report. “By meeting the needs of independent workers in a holistic way, credit unions can jumpstart long-lasting relationships with members.”
Serving independent workers requires credit unions to:
• Know your members. Chances are, your credit union already serves independent workers. But not every independent worker is the same.
Some work independently by choice, some are highly skilled, some are barely making ends meet, and some do it full-time while others take on freelance or gig roles as a side job.
“The roadmap for meeting the needs of this growing group is to start with the member and work backward,” the report states.
• Recognize member needs are shifting, which requires credit union products and services to change as well. Consider serving independent workers from the business side rather than the consumer side.
Also, consider the types of services that would benefit this group, whether that’s low-barrier business financing, professional benefits, or something else.
• Be holistic. Shift your mindset from delivering a single product or service to “developing and delivering a suite of services to meet the needs of a new market segment,” the report states.
Develop relationship-based services that allow staff to investigate each member’s circumstances and needs so it can provide a tailored portfolio of solutions.
• Start small. Come up with solutions, test, and deliver them to market. But continue to gather feedback.
This will allow you continually tweak solutions and provide those that are sustainable and meets members’ needs.