Vicarious Agency is one of only a handful of companies proposing changes to the current contract employment model by offering benefits including unemployment, medical, dental, and vision insurance to all its freelancers.
February 2, 2021 – Seattle, Washington
Almost 200 CEOs signed the Business Roundtable’s “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation,”* thereby signaling greater concern for their employees. But a post-pandemic study by Umpqua bank indicates that more than ¾ of mid-sized businesses are “moving away from a traditional staffing model to one utilizing more contract workers.”** These workers are not typically provided benefits. Contractors usually work without healthcare, dental plans, or even unemployment coverage.
Hiring contract workers makes sense in many situations. Teams needing headcount might want to offer healthcare to their temporary workers, but for any number of reasons, they cannot. For example, they may not have approval for additional full-time headcount and have to engage a talent agency to supply temporary staff.
Zach Huntting, Founder & CEO of Seattle-based creative agency CROWN, is reimagining the traditional temporary talent agency model. His new company, Vicarious Agency, helps provide the safety net that most freelancers are missing as well as helping to stabilize their incomes.
After 2020, it is beyond obvious that unemployment and health insurance are vital to everyone. Vicarious Agency’s hope is to change the landscape of the freelance system. The goal is to provide an attractive alternative for freelancers looking for work, as well as create an environment that boosts productivity while lowering financial stress. “The hope is,” Zach says, “that other temp agencies will follow suit and provide benefits for their contractors. Since freelancers would prefer to work at a company that provides basic insurance, other agencies will be forced to do the same, or risk losing their talent.”
This idea does not come without risk. Freelance work is uncertain and inconsistent by nature. There may be cases where Vicarious could see losses by providing benefits to employees who end up not working out over the long haul. However, “All signs are good so far,” says Zach, “Our goal is not to create a purely profit-based company, but rather one that is based in humanity, and provides basic benefits and a safety net which we think everyone deserves.”
So far, this paradigm seems to be working. “Our current freelancers were initially shocked that Vicarious offers 100% subsidized healthcare coverage as part of their agreement,” says Mary Warsinske, Managing Director at CROWN. “Moving the freelance industry back to basic, ethical business values is the driving force.”
Luis Antezana, Director of Strategy at CROWN, elaborates: “It’s amazing what a company that’s founded on an equitable premise can offer. Compared to legacy staffing, the difference is compellingly stark. Healthcare and unemployment form an essential foundation, providing the kind of security upon which lives and even prosperity can be built. A humans-first approach to benefits, providing healthcare and unemployment from day one is one of the best ways to bring real, inclusive, equitable opportunities to all workers, something Seattle’s economy desperately needs.”
“And we are still profitable,” notes Zach. “We’re not charging more than other firms, so there is obviously room to do the right thing for our talent while still generating enough profit to fuel expansion. We hope other talent shops will follow our lead, and in the meantime, we won’t mind eating their lunch…and sharing it with our talented network.”
Zach, Mary, Luis, and the rest of the CROWN team are excited at the growth prospects for Vicarious Agency in 2021 – they are in the process of adding a 401(k) pre-tax retirement account option for folks as well – and are eager to expand their network of talented creatives outside of Seattle and California. Creative freelancers and potential clients can find out more at https://www.vicariousagency.com/.
*”Top CEOs Have Realized Companies Need a Purpose Beyond Profit,” HBR 2019
**Business Resiliency Survey, Umpqua Bank 2020
CROWN is an award-winning digital & social marketing agency based in Seattle, WA. As a strategically led practice, CROWN combines deep consumer insights, emerging technology, and unbridled creativity to create punchy and effective campaigns that are impossible to ignore. While our clients range between fast-growing tech startups and Fortune 100 firms, a single thread connects them all: Bold brands build with us. https://crownsocial.com/
About Vicarious Agency:
Seattle-based staffing agency befriending innovative creative talent and forward-thinking clients. We work with artists who are pushing boundaries across a variety of creative disciplines, and we prioritize friendships over numbers. https://www.vicariousagency.com/