Keeping Company

Know your gig workers to retain them

An Uber driver wearing a face mask and hat.When done right, the gig economy can mutually benefit companies and workers. Companies can tap into deep and vast labor pools, and workers can create their own schedules. But such flexibility challenges gig platforms in committing to a service capacity. What incentives, then, can entice workers to work more hours more often?

A recent study co-authored by Assistant Professor Park Sinchaisri and published in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management sought to answer that question.

The researchers utilized data from a U.S.-based ride-hailing company that included 358 days of driving activities and financial incentives for thousands of New York City drivers between 2016 and 2017. Perhaps not surprisingly, they found that drivers work toward their income goals and are less likely to work after meeting them.

More surprisingly, Sinchaisri found that workers who have previously worked longer shifts are more likely to start a new shift or work longer than drivers who have worked less. This finding goes against previous research on taxi drivers, who have more of a “time-targeting behavior.”

Sinchaisri says that gig platforms should ask what specific goals workers have and make targeted adjustments. “Once you know your workers’ goals, you can think of better ways to incentivize them,” he says.