Automation is often seen as manufacturers’ ticket to the future. Lately, however, it’s a new labor model that has been drawing jealous stares from other sectors.
Upending how manufacturers get work done are platforms like MyWorkChoice, an hourly workforce management platform. MyWorkChoice uses smart matching technology to build custom communities, onboarded according to each client’s specifications.
By letting workers choose their shifts, MyWorkChoice cuts manufacturers’ absenteeism rates from around 35 percent to just 3 percent. For plant output, managers’ stress levels, and company culture, that’s a night-and-day difference.
The question: Could MyWorkChoice’s model work for other industries? Maybe so — but only if they can fit two puzzle pieces that, frustratingly, never seem to go together: flexibility and dependability.
For years, many white-collar workers have enjoyed the flexibility to work when and where they want. Until recently, however, blue-collar sectors like manufacturing have pigeonholed workers into 40-hour-per-week arrangements.
Understandably, blue-collar workers want those same freedoms. What broke the dam, according to MyWorkChoice CEO Tana Greene, is the coronavirus pandemic.
“The traditional staffing agency model is dead,” explains Greene. “Prior to the pandemic, flexibility was supporting both workers and companies who needed to scale their workforce at any given time; today it’s a critical piece of the puzzle to keep our supply chain moving and put healthy people to work.”
Instead of requiring a rigid schedule, MyWorkChoice lets the company’s regular workforce sign up for four-hour blocks on the days they choose. Many opt to work a full 40 hours per week, producing a dependable primary workforce.
Workers understand that MyWorkChoice isn’t just another day-labor app, nor is it a split-shift system. They stick with it because of its flexibility, enabling the companies they serve to build tenured hourly teams.
Could sectors outside of manufacturing make that model work? Sure, Greene says: MyWorkChoice has applied it to call centers, distribution centers, and more. But before they make the leap, they need to solve for the second part of the equation: dependability.
Shorter shifts are a big reason why MyWorkChoice delivers workers reliably. But there’s a second factor that, for industries looking to follow the manufacturing sector’s lead, may be more difficult to replicate: scale.
Largely because of the flexibility it offers workers, MyWorkChoice is the largest recruiter in most markets it operates in. That ensures it has the bench strength to make the model work, covering gaps in a company’s regular workforce. Access to a larger, scalable workforce creates a secondary line of defense while eliminating the need for overtime.
A larger labor pool, combined with shorter shifts, lets employers accommodate all sorts of life situations. The result is MyWorkChoice’s third talent stream: nontraditional workforce segments, such as seniors and college students, who wouldn’t otherwise look for manufacturing work.
Many of these MyWorkChoice workers have responsibilities outside the platform that would make it tough to work longer shifts. Its model makes tough-to-fill times less onerous. For example, the second shift is typically the most difficult to fill, but when flexible four-hour slots are made available, stay-at-home parents and second incomers flock to this shift, making it one of the most coveted on the platform.
In the industries MyWorkChoice operates in — manufacturing, call centers, and warehousing — that three-pronged approach proves flexibility works. In more niche ones, it may not.
Take surveying. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are fewer than 50,000 surveyors in the entire U.S. Because it’s a specialized field, no amount of flexibility could help employers build secondary and tertiary teams. In all but the largest of labor markets, there simply aren’t enough surveyors to go around.
Plenty of industries struggle to fill open positions, despite the economic downturn. Plenty of workers in them want flexibility. So what can employers in other sectors do to marry the two?
One option is to transition hourly workers to an employer-of-record model. Because MyWorkChoice is the employer of record, it handles worker’s compensation, unemployment claims, and other back-office matters that employers otherwise have to deal with.
The other option is to bring new demographic groups into the fold. Look for ways to increase flexibility: If possible in your industry, consider making work-from-home options permanent. If not, perhaps you could give workers more choice over their hours.
The final ingredient? Client service. MyWorkChoice provides regional managers to its clients, ensuring that workers are happy, safe, and getting the job done.
Without someone on the ground who knows the rules, no amount of software can make workforce management a hands-off process in industries like manufacturing. Technology can make matches, but it takes a human being to make sure those matches actually work out.
Great client service exists in every industry, as do flexibility and reliable workforces. In manufacturing, what MyWorkChoice has done is put them together in a lasting, harmonious way. Whether that can be done in every industry, however, is a challenge waiting to be conquered.