- In what Uber calls a commitment to helping its drivers get ahead, the ride-hailing company launched Uber Pro, a pilot program operating in eight U.S. cities that rewards top drivers with incentives such as higher earnings and savings that help them maximize their time in transit. Also among those benefits: 100% tuition coverage for online courses at Arizona State University (ASU).
- Uber partnered with ASU to allow eligible drivers or their family members a chance to complete virtual courses towards an undergraduate degree or a certificate program, with full tuition coverage. To access the rewards, drivers must maintain a minimum 4.85 star rating and a low rate of cancellation. Drivers accumulate points on each trip during fixed 3-month periods, and the points they earn per period go toward unlocking rewards in the next period.
- Drivers who are eligible for the pilot program can track how well they're meeting their goals in the rewards section of the app. Uber said that while the Beta is now live in eight U.S. cities, it plans to refine and improve Uber Pro with drivers' input so it can roll out the program to more people in the upcoming months.
Driven by the current labor market, which favors workers and makes competing for applicants a greater challenge than ever, employers like Walmart and Starbucks are offering employees training, benefits, development and rewards programs. Uber's approach to worker retention and engagement through benefits and rewards is innovative, however, because it considers the recipients independent contractors rather than employees. The company's more recent initiatives to engage drivers and improve their work and personal lives comes at a time when companies are struggling to improve retention and gain workers' loyalty — and that includes contingent workers.
It's not completely alone, however. SurveyMonkey announced earlier this year, for example, that it would be offering benefits to its contractors and employees who work with the company through third-party services, partly to ensure those who support SurveyMonkey's full-timers also receive adequate benefits.
"We hope to increasingly see companies both here in Silicon Valley and across the country take on more responsibility and ensure that workers are treated fairly and valued for the contribution they make — whether they be full-time employees or part of an extended workforce," Becky Cantieri, chief people officer of SurveyMonkey, previously told HR Dive.
Uber, Amazon and big-box retailers like Walmart offer programs that receive much public attention because of the companies' sizes. But small businesses, which face greater challenges with job growth and wages than large companies, can enter the competition for talent with innovative programs that engage and reward employees and low-cost benefits that employees value.