How The Gig Economy Can Solve Retail Grocer’s Workforce Worries

A study by Intuit predicts that by the year 2020, 40% of American workers will be a part of the gig economy, or in other words: “a freelancer”. What’s the force driving the push to become a part of the gig workforce? The biggest reason is the digital age — job seekers now have access to hundreds of jobs all at their fingertips with apps such as Uber, Airbnb, Snag Work, TaskRabbit, and Postmates (just to name a few). It’s an environment in which temporary jobs are common and organizations contact independent workers for short-term engagements. Retail, specifically retail grocers, have looked relatively untouched by the gig environment due to their customer-centric value offering but are they missing out on a great opportunity? It may be time for retail grocers to adjust their practices and examine how this new gig economy could benefit their workforce and in the end their shoppers.

It’s A Win-Win for Everyone

A gig economy can be beneficial to both employers and employees because there is now a growing economy of supply and demand for gigs. For employers, they can select the individual they see best fit for the task and it allows them to hire workers for temporary periods, such as during holidays, a massive recall, or testing out a pilot program like click and collect. Moving over to the employee’s point of view, they now are able to find jobs that best fit their skill sets, set their own hours, and make some extra cash when needed – leading to improved work-life balance. Take the week leading up to Thanksgiving, for example, now grocers can hire extra workers to help with the influx of shoppers. In turn, the workers now have extra spending money for the holidays.

Adding Permanent Additions to The Workforce

Even though they may be labeled as “temporary workers” right now, there is another huge upside to retail grocers inserting themselves into this environment. Employers are given a “trial period” on these workers, which could revolutionize the hiring practice in retail as a whole. In an interview, it’s very difficult to really know what type of employee your company is getting until you see their performance. However, employers can now see what type of worker a person is without having to invest a large amount of valuable capital and resources, such as extensive training and full-time benefits.

Getting a Temporary Workforce to Buy Into the Culture

Yet, there is one big obstacle facing the gig environment: building a corporate culture with temporary workers. With competition as fierce as it is today, a culture or environment that sets you apart is critical. A full-time employee will most likely ‘buy-in’ to what management is trying to accomplish due to advancement and potential raise opportunities. On the other hand, a worker that’s only going to be there for 2-3 months may not care about the longevity of the company. This is potentially a major concern that retail grocers need to address before jumping the gun on the gig economy.

Segmenting Out The Gig Economy Positions

Generally retail has a very high turnover rate, so tedious jobs such as restocking, finding inventory, and unloading shipments could easily be given to gig workers. This leaves full-time workers to focus on customer service positions and creating a great experience for consumers. Long-term, this could be a unique way for regional grocers to keep pace with Amazon and Walmart instead of trying to compete with their razor-thin margins.

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies understands the power of innovation but also its limitations. Attending Salve Regina in New England, starting his career in Silicon Valley, and now living in Austin, Texas; Seth provides a unique tech perspective to a complex CPG and Retail Grocery Industry that is in constant disruption.