STAFF – HR Technologist, April 17, 2018 | With the gig economy and zero hour contracts becoming more prevalent – how can your business make the most of it? The answer is technology. Scott Absher, CEO at ShiftPixy discusses how technology is disrupting workforce management in the gig economy and why it’s critical for organizations to offer benefits to their gig workforce.
Let’s start by briefly introducing ShiftPixy. In a sentence, what is ShiftPixy and what’s its unique value proposition?
ShiftPixy is a disruptive human capital management provider focused primarily on the restaurant and hospitality industries. Leveraging the gig economy concept, ShiftPixy matches employers looking for part-time employees with qualified workers seeking flexible hours.
Unlike others in the gig economy, ShiftPixy serves as the employer to its workforce, offering access to benefits and other protections while allowing the workers to choose various shifts at a variety of establishments in the ShiftPixy ecosystem. In turn, ShiftPixy partners with those businesses in the ecosystem and handles the administrative and compliance burdens that come with employment, all done centrally through ShiftPixy’s app.
The technology behind ShiftPixy is another differentiator – a private blockchain ledger is used to record and track critical human capital validation data, a sophisticated ‘micro-metering’ approach is used for financial and insurance transactions, and IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence engine is used across the platform to achieve uniquely personal experiences.
Gig economy has been the catch-phrase of 2017, and it’s still generating a lot of interest. However, there’s a lot of confusion around who exactly these gig workers are; are they Uber drivers, AirBnB hosts or freelancing software developers? How would you define gig workers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a “gig” is defined as “a single project or task for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand.”
The gig economy is rapidly growing as individuals seek to have more control over their schedules and work. Gig workers include individuals performing short-term tasks, ranging from transporting passengers via mobile apps such as Lyft and Uber, third-party food delivery platforms like Grubhub and UberEats, and can even encompass pet sitting (via Rover), appliance repair (via TaskRabbit) or website development (via FreeLancer) to name a few.
Considering how Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not classify gig workers as employees, how do organizations go about administering benefits to their gig workforce?
Large gig economy platforms, including Uber, Lyft, and Grubhub, are not required under law to administer benefits to their gig workers because they are technically classified as independent contractors and not employees. This has been hotly debated as seen in recent misclassification lawsuits against some of those platforms, causing many to challenge the viability of the gig economy’s future.
While the traditional gig economy model has some cost savings since it’s cheaper to employ contractors rather than W-2 employees, it lacks certain incentives such as health insurance, 401(k) plans and worker’s compensation coverage, which are critical for the future success of this emergent industry.
Understanding that workers are the heart of any organization, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality sectors, ShiftPixy has embraced employer status to provide those benefits and stability to workers while ensuring businesses have a reliable workforce in place.
How is ShiftPixy helping employees thrive in the gig economy?
ShiftPixy allows for the gig economy-like flexibility of empowering workers to choose shifts at a variety of establishments in the ShiftPixy ecosystem while offering health coverage, overtime and other benefits to those employees.
Are there any new programs that your clients have designed to facilitate employee growth in the gig economy?
The biggest change clients have embraced is allowing ShiftPixy to directly employ their workers. ShiftPixy relieves restaurant operators from the time-consuming tasks that come with employment and provides them with a large pool of eager workers available for a variety of shifts, all managed through ShiftPixy’s app.
The app also has scheduling technology powered by AI to recognize and fill shift openings. When a gap is noticed or a worker cancels a shift, the app will automatically offer the open shift up to the qualified, on-demand workforce in ShiftPixy’s ecosystem.
What do you think organizations can do to tackle the unique employee needs? Can you share actionable tips for organizations to help keep their gig workers engaged, motivated and productive?
Keeping the workforce satisfied with their schedule is crucial to maintaining low turnover rates . As seen with the popularity of the gig economy, today’s worker wants flexibility and control over his or her schedule. Businesses that rely on part-time and shift work should consider adopting similar models, but not at the expense of workers’ benefits.
Benefits and protections are cited as incredibly important for workers, particularly in the gig economy. This includes workplace and safety protections, Social Security, freedom from discrimination, and sick leave. According to a recent study by Villanova, the combination of competitive pay and benefits makes employees feel valued and less likely to look for work elsewhere, leading to higher employee satisfaction and reduced turnover .
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword in HR, and you being at the intersection of technology and HR, how do you look to Artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.?
ShiftPixy leverages IBM’s Watson for its artificial intelligence capabilities, using it to achieve an engaging and personal experience for both the job operators and workers alike.
With this technology, new employees no longer have to fill out burdensome new employee paperwork. By leveraging AI, new hires are guided by a conversation with a chatbot ‘Pixy’ who asks the necessary questions and generates the required employment documents in a highly personal and engaging way. This allows ShiftPixy to onboard the workers in its ecosystem much faster and efficiently than ever before.
AI is also used in ShiftPixy’s scheduling capabilities, automatically flagging open shifts to workers in the ecosystem, letting restaurant and hospitality operators rest easy knowing they don’t need to manually monitor calendars and manage specific availability of their staff.
In addition to AI, ShiftPixy is implementing a private, centralized blockchain ledger to keep its employees’ personal information safe. Any data considered a human capital validation point or part of the hiring and onboarding process is recorded in ShiftPixy’s blockchain ledger. This keeps data secure and removes human error when screening for fraudulent information.
What questions are your buyers asking you? How is that impacting your platform’s roadmap? Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
Our buyers’ questions are more observations on how they would use the ShiftPixy platform. They usually focus on not allowing their home team employees to be available to work elsewhere. When we unpack the strategy and help them rethink human capital they easily understand that this sharing approach is optimal for everyone.