On-Demand Staffing Websites Match Needs of Employers and Workers

By Dave Zielinski September 5, 2018
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​A new kind of jobs board has emerged to help businesses solve one of their most vexing challenges: filling job shifts on short notice.

When employees call in sick, or there's an unforeseen spike in product demand or special events, employers have to react quickly. Some web-based platforms can offer a more tech-savvy and efficient way for hourly workers to find work to supplement existing part-time jobs.

The sites, which include Snag, Wonolo and Shiftgig, combine the best of traditional staffing agencies and jobs boards, and eliminate the middleman between companies and those seeking hourly work.

The platforms target companies in industries like e-commerce, hospitality and retail that have a high need for hourly or gig workers to fill jobs on short notice. Candidates for these positions are screened and prequalified by recruiters working for the platforms.

These platforms are catering to a significant market. According to 2017 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hourly workers represent almost 60 percent of the U.S. workforce.

"The sites are targeting, specifically, a large market of underemployed hourly workers," said Brian Blum, a senior analyst with the AIM Group, a consulting firm specializing in interactive media and classified advertising based in Orlando, Fla.

Blum said one advantage employers gain from using these platforms is an ability to gather data and assess local job markets in holistic fashion. "These sites have broad visibility, which gives them the capacity to provide more-accurate data to employers about how many hourly workers are available in their markets, what their skills are and the types of jobs or shift times they're looking for," Blum said.

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Technology as Matchmaker

On the platform Snag, companies post openings for their hourly positions, and workers in the system are alerted to posts that match their skills and availability. Fabio Rosati, CEO of Snag, said the company has placed workers at 300,000 worksites in the United States and Canada.

Snag prequalifies workers through interviews and background checks before adding them to its network, Rosati said, and pays them when the work is complete. Snag charges its employer clients a service fee on top of worker wages. The platform targets workers looking for both part-time jobs and individual shifts.

Rosati believes platforms such as Snag help reduce the "friction" hourly workers often experience in finding work. "People looking for shifts are often seeking work to supplement existing incomes," he said. "But that search can be time-consuming, especially when you consider someone might have to search for four or more hours for a weekend shift that pays $100."

Wonolo, based in San Francisco, is another hourly staffing platform designed to help businesses find workers for short-term needs. Most of Wonolo's clients are in the retail, e-commerce, consumer packaged goods and third-party logistics industries, said AJ Brustein, Wonolo's co-founder and chief operating officer.

An employer's first posting with Wonolo is often to find workers to meet an unpredicted need.

"It might be that orders on a company's e-commerce site have spiked 20 percent over forecast, and it needs 30 additional workers ASAP," he said.

In that situation the company can post its jobs—including skills required, pay level and when workers are needed—and in many cases the jobs are filled quickly, Brustein said.

Wonolo puts little stock in standard methods of screening hourly job candidates, he added. "Unlike most traditional staffing firms, we don't require workers to submit a resume or participate in an interview," he said. "We find that process has little correlation to whether someone can do a great job in a warehouse, for example. If candidates demonstrate the five P's on the job—prepared, professional, positive, polite and punctual—they can pick up additional shifts, with some being offered ongoing, full-time positions."

All jobs available on Wonolo are for one day of work, although people may be able to string together consecutive workdays. "Workers finish a day's job and get paid the next day for that work," Brustein said.

Wonolo caters to the underemployed worker "who might only be getting 29 hours a week somewhere but is looking for a second or third employer to increase their income and fill gaps in their work calendar," Brustein said.

Dave Zielinski is a freelance business writer and editor in Minneapolis.

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