Can HR save Uber’s reputation?








Uber, alongside many of its business model contemporaries, is currently in the midst of a publicity nightmare over the way it treats its fleet of “self-employed” workers.  Although the growth of these companies is seemingly unstoppable, they face increasing competition from rival firms who are willing to treat their workers in an ethical way.  Like most companies, Uber relies on people in order to function and if their drivers leave in pursuit of a better offer elsewhere, then Uber’s relentless growth will come to an abrupt end.

So…what exactly can HR do to help this?

This is where HR can actually make a significant difference.  It has the potential to not only improve the satisfaction levels of workers, but also turn around the #deleteUBER trend.  Across all industries, the focus on the “Employee Experience” is becoming increasingly important as employers realise how it is intrinsically linked to business performance. Company culture is now a leading player in employee retention and simultaneously the company’s portrayal in the press and on social media. Uber has become synonymous with sexism, insecurity, maltreatment and endless lawsuits. HR professionals can assist in turning around this reputation and make a real difference to gig-economy workers by creating an infrastructure to support them.  Here are a few of the ways that HR expertise could help:

  • Introduce apps and portals that workers can access to look at payslips or log hours.
  • Create an online chat function with ER professionals who can explain their rights in case of dispute.
  • Improve basic rewards for workers, for example, sick and holiday pay, which they are not currently entitled to.
  • Implement incentive schemes, for example length of service to acknowledge hard work and improve morale amongst workers.

Importantly, any changes that the UK Government may make to the employment conditions of workers will also inevitably require the expertise of an HR professional in order to comply.  Whilst it may take legal implications to force these companies to act and improve their treatment of workers, their HR teams should see this as an opportunity to go above the legal requirements and make a real difference to the overall ‘employee experience’ by leveraging off the general digitalisation of the workforce and HR practices.

Ultimately, there is currently an exciting opportunity for HR to make improvements to both Uber’s reputation and subsequent business performance. Let’s hope HR can succeed once again and help UBER to recover their somewhat tarnished reputation!


Written by Rowena Gaukroger.


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