AARON HUFF – Commercial Carrier Journal, May 1, 2018 | Millions of people are using their smartphones and apps to find freelance work. Just as truckers use online marketplaces and broker apps to find loads, motorists have Uber and Lyft to locate ridesharing gigs and Rover to find pet-walking jobs, among other examples.
In this tech-enabled “Gig Economy,” people have freedom to create their own work schedules. Freelancing has its disadvantages, however. Non-employees generally do not have health insurance, workers comp or qualify for overtime pay among other protections and benefits.
Whereas many workers in the Gig Economy are what the IRS refers to as 1099 contractors, at least one company, ShiftPixy, is seizing an opportunity to embrace W-2 employee status while offering fleets a flexible workforce management platform.
Founded in 2015, ShiftPixy is focused on businesses that have shift work with full and part-time employees. Final-mile transportation is one of its core markets.
The ShiftPixy workforce platform connects fleet operators with a pool of vetted employee drivers, on demand. It also creates administrative efficiencies and removes the friction of driver turnover, explains Scott Absher, chief executive.
In the final-mile sector of transportation, the company is also curating a population of on-demand driver employees that its clients can share across the platform.
Since its founding in 2004, Zion Delivery Service (ZDS) has focused on final-mile delivery in the Southern California market. The Los Angeles-based company has experienced 20 percent growth, year over year, for the past five years.
ZDS operates seven days a week, says Jeremy Pippen, president, and has used employee outsourcing services in the past. The engagement with ShiftPixy began by outsourcing the employer status of its W-2 delivery drivers. The technology of ShiftPixy was the deciding factor.
“We are looking to have a better way to engage with our existing pool of drivers, to build that pool, and be able to allocate resources in the most intelligent way to control cost on our end,” he says.
Prior to using ShiftPixy, ZDS dispatchers were manually contacting drivers to see who could cover extra routes as demand and service needs arose. The first driver to answer was dispatched, which often resulted in paying drivers overtime to cover extra shifts.
ShiftPixy keeps track of hours worked and shifts through its driver mobile app. ZDS dispatchers have visibility to drivers’ hours and are given recommendations through the platform for which drivers they should contact, in what order, to cover shifts and minimize labor costs.
One of ZDS’ largest customers is Amazon Logistics. Every day, Amazon sends delivery route plans to ZDS that show hours associated with each route. ZDS uses this information to create schedules in ShiftPixy’s web platform.
Using the mobile app, drivers have visibility to opportunities to work extra shifts and “can make themselves available,” Pippen says.
Before founding ShiftPixy, Absher worked at companies in the trucking industry that provided employee leasing and outsourcing services. The new company was originally going to be named “ShiftPicky” to denote the flexibility its platform gave workers to choose their schedules, he says.
Pippen expects to see increased productivity and to reduce costs by using the platform for internal operations and for employee engagement. Overall, he says the technology and employee outsourcing “makes it easier to focus on what we know how to do” and helps to stay in compliance with employee and contractor laws, to manage cost and to meet employee expectations.
As ShiftPixy gets a larger pool of qualified drivers, Pippen sees a benefit from drawing from that pool to “fill our ranks,” he says.
ShiftPixy’s digital solution includes a private blockchain ledger to record and track sensitive employee information, and a “micro-metering” approach for financial and insurance transactions. The technology also streamlines the hiring process by using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence engine to power a “chatbot” named Pixy to guide driver employees through the application and onboarding process, Absher says.