The Instawork sales team meets with hundreds of businesses each month within warehouse, logistics, and distribution. A common pain point we consistently hear is how the uncertainty around COVID-19 and elements of the CARES Act has made it increasingly difficult for companies to find reliable sources of labor.
In this article we examine a common question that businesses have when they are about to implement a flexible labor solution like Instawork to help solve these widespread challenges. What are the best practices in training a flexible workforce? The first step is to define what kind of training is typically required for the general labor and warehouse associate roles that we support.
Two approaches to temp labor
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the training element of hand laborers and material movers as “workers need only a few days of training, and most training is done by a supervisor or more experienced worker who decides when trainees are ready to work on their own.” There are two ways that a business can go about executing this short term, on the job training for their flexible labor team.
One approach is to have us find a fixed number of dedicated workers that can be trained in the first few days and then are able to commit to longer engagements at a business. We refer to this as multi-day shifts.
The other option is to build a larger scale pool of trained flexible workers by taking a more dynamic approach. Instead of requesting multi-day shifts, these businesses receive a larger amount of workers on a weekly basis and work with us to create a system to train more workers, with the long-term goal of building a robust team.
There are pros and cons to each approach as highlighted below:
Given our current COVID-19 pandemic environment, the risks of a fixed pool of workers have increased in likelihood. That’s why we’ve found that businesses that are committed to a long-term approach end up growing a substantial, and flexible pool of qualified and trained temporary workers that gives them big advantages over time. It becomes easier to find replacements down the line, because more workers have been trained and are familiar with the operation. It allows a business to scale quickly with demand or focus on growing new accounts with confidence that there is plenty of labor to support the growth. Investing in a large roster of trained flexible workers helps businesses avoid lost opportunity costs on a daily basis.
Of course we’re not saying that the flexible pool of workers is going to magically work and doesn’t have any downsides. It does require willingness to implement regular training touch points. However most businesses are seeing the long-term approach as the best practice for ongoing success - and Instawork supports this process in a few crucial ways.
How Instawork supports a large scale, long-term pool of workers
Instawork Shift Leads
For companies that use large volumes of flexible labor, we will identify and implement shift leads to assist with the onboarding and training of new temporary workers on day one.
An Instawork Shift Lead are individuals that we’ve identified as being highly reliable and experienced at working in environments like yours. They generally have a substantial track record on Instawork, with high ratings from other customers. They also have met with the Instawork Operations team and have demonstrated leadership skills on the job.
Identifying your shift lead in the Instawork platform
On large shifts, we ensure that we fill your shifts with at least one shift lead. In addition to working the shift, they assist with check-in/check-out, on-the-job coaching, and performance management. Our customers rave about having the ongoing onsite support -- extra trusted eyes and ears on the ground. We’ve seen it not only create a smoother experience for all parties, it also helps ramp the workers to full productivity faster.
The Instawork Roster
While shift leads facilitate the training of new temporary workers as they get started - ultimately the business is in control of who they decide should be moved to their dedicated roster from Instawork. Businesses, after getting feedback from Instawork shift leads and their own onsite managers, can rate worker performance in our platform. If everything is satisfactory, those workers will be moved to the business’ dedicated roster. Both businesses and workers love returning to places they enjoy working, so we’ve set up our system to dispatch shifts to workers on your roster first. That way, workers still get the flexibility to choose shifts that work for them while you get workers familiar with your business. A win-win.
The three steps to build your roster
The combination of shift leads and the roster are important ways that we support training up a larger pool of flexible workers. We are seeing the impact with a large online grocery distribution company that started working with us recently. They shared that once we implemented shift leads, they saw an increase in worker performance. That boost gives them the confidence to increase their temp staff usage much more quickly. In just one month, they have more than tripled the amount of shifts booked with us.
How a flexible pool is better for both businesses and workers
Our customers express that not having enough labor to meet production demand and timelines is a constant concern. They end up either paying out large amounts of overtime to available staff, which hurts profit margins and risks employee turnover, or they miss deadlines for their customers. The only way to prevent these scenarios is to train more workers than you might initially think you need.
The long-term success of this model is highlighted in a recent case study that we published about our customer Farmstead. They experienced 10x growth in customer orders and needed a flexible labor solution to quickly find workers to meet demand. They leveraged the roster system by training and adding 70 professionals to their roster in the first month, so they could flexibly use that pool to cover their initial needs of 15+ workers a day. The decision to scale their temporary workforce well above what the daily need was paid off, and they achieved an astonishing 100% fill rate for more than 460 shifts using Instawork.
Using a flexible labor solution like Instawork taps into the gig economy and gives access to thousands of people that are motivated to do good work. Too much reliance on a fixed number of workers limits the available labor pool. A fixed number of workers might be slightly more convenient in the short term, but down the line it will be harder to find replacement workers when there is turnover and there will be less trained workers to access as a business scales and needs to quickly find more labor. Without a large volume of workers, businesses will still be faced with lost opportunity cost, stagnant growth, and continued operational headaches daily.
Are you interested in learning how we can help you grow a large scale, trained flexible workforce? Schedule a quick demo below.