4 minute read
Gig Scheduling and Crowdsourcing: What Are Gig Employees?
Jim Wegeleben, Senior Manager of Logile Academy
Kathleen O’Reilly, Academy Specialist
In the first post of the three-part series, Gig Scheduling and Crowdsourcing: Prelude – Employee Open Shift Bidding, we introduced shift bidding, its importance, and the significant positive effect it could have on your organization’s ability to assign shifts and more effectively staff your stores. The series continues as we introduce the similarities and differences between what we call, “Gig Employees” and “Crowdsource Workers,” both of whom are the people bidding on open shifts.
In this post, let’s focus on gig scheduling and our concept of gig employees: Gig employees are people currently working under the organizational banner, have availability and typically work within the store or at a nearby store location.
The perfect storm
Let’s pause to reflect and quantify what has transpired to create a perfect employee shortage storm. Many brick and mortar retailers were caught unprepared for the staffing ramifications and consequences resulting from the pandemic. Unprecedented workforce shortages were triggered in part because of a widespread employee mindset shift regarding work/life balance. The pandemic, restrictions and governmental assistance programs provided the circumstantial foundation for that shift to occur. Even as the pandemic becomes less acute, employees are:
- choosing to stay at home or pursue more flexible work arrangements
- taking time to reassess, find another job or move to an entirely different line of work
- working from home to help care for family, especially children
Some retailers are finding the resulting reduced employee talent pool to be a huge challenge. Some are not able to operate effectively with increased business demand. Others trying to get fully back into business after being mandated to close, reduce hours or reduce the number of customers are finding it challenging to retain employees and keep the operation up and running. This problem is more acute for retailers whose staffing model is operating with small rosters, sometimes as few as one or two employees.
That means retailers have had to make tough decisions. These include paying overtime to compensate for the lack of available and qualified employees to fill shifts coupled with working managers and employees way beyond the norm. Paying for overtime impacts the bottom line, but an equally big impact is employee burnout. How long can an employee endure an unrelenting overtime schedule? They begin to question if the extra income is worth the time away from family and the fatigue.
A case in point
Sally is a mother of two kids, ages 7 and 9. She is working as a cashier earning extra money while her kids are at school. Through the pandemic, Sally was not affected at work but has seen the store business increase dramatically and sees her supervisor struggling to get more employees. Sally is considered a part-time employee and can get more hours, but her concern is the shifts being offered are not conducive to her kids and her life. Sally knows other departments or nearby affiliate stores are looking for employees to fill shifts. She could be available to pick up some shifts during the week, but Sally has been assigned to a specific position and is not being considered by the store manager for other departments or roles. Sally talked with her supervisor a couple of times but a workable solution/opportunity hadn’t presented itself for consideration. Sally is happy with her current role. She simply wants more hours that work with her lifestyle and personal commitments.
Within every challenge lies an opportunity
Would it benefit Sally to be considered and have access to shift bidding? Could Sally work additional shifts and accommodate her family schedule and lifestyle? Would it benefit the store to put shifts up for bid to see if someone outside of the department would be available to work a shift? Sally, her family and her employer would all reap benefits. If Sally’s organization implemented gig scheduling, Sally could become a gig employee.
How gig scheduling and gig employees interact
After a schedule is written, any unfilled shifts are broadcast and put up for bid, aka gig scheduling. A preapproved and available employee—the gig employee—is first in line and can bid on a shift using a mobile app. Upon managerial approval, bid shifts are assigned and gig employees are managed by the department and store managers.
To gain access to shifts put up for bid, an employee must first download the app, submit a request for shift bidding, and receive approval from the company and store manager before receiving any broadcast shifts up for bid. This ensures store and managerial oversight of the process. Following approval, an employee may receive the appropriate skills training so they can perform the specific tasks associated with the shift work.
A performance rating system, set up consistently across the organization and informed by the retailer’s specific work culture, could also be used to gather information to help manage performance, program management and training and integrate the gig employee into the particular store. The ratings could function similar to ratings systems like, for instance, ride-share apps.
Change management and communication strategy
With any new initiative, it makes good business sense to couple that initiative with a well thought out and implemented change management strategy. People, processes and communication plans must be in place and tested to vet the change. Implementing a new gig scheduling initiative within an organization requires the care and attention to detail so that all involved can share in the initiative’s success.
With the approval of gig scheduling in your organization, it is vital that first your employees are aware of the opportunity. What will a communication strategy look like? Is it:
- a sign posted by the time clock?
- a printed flyer handed out with pay checks?
- left in the hands of each manager to decide what works best for their team?
Your own specific organizational culture will have a big impact on the best way to roll gig scheduling out.
With gig scheduling, the gig employee can begin to partner with the organization to create a work schedule that revolves around their personal schedule and so gaining an improved sense of work/life balance. In our final post in this blog series, we’ll take a deeper dive into the specific details of crowdsource workers needed to take into consideration when implementing gig scheduling. Stay tuned.