Innovator of the Year: Shiftgig
The gig economy is "the Wild West right now." But our Innovator of the Year saw an opportunity to connect workers with employers in need.
Series C Funding:
Total Raised to Date:
Chicago, IL + 14 other cities
Claim to Fame:
Connects hourly workers with sudden, real-time job openings.
Update: On Dec. 6 Shiftgig laid off 75 workers, approximately one-third of its staff, according to a report by Crain’s Chicago Business. The company said in a statement provided to Crain’s that the layoffs were part of a reorganization effort that includes consolidating operations in Chicago and automating some tasks. Dive Award winners were selected in October based on information available then. The number of employees for the firm has been updated to reflect recent developments. Automation and contingent work are two disruptive industry trends, and it appears they sometimes disrupt the disruptors.
Like a genie granting a wish, the contingent workforce has brought both blessings to companies desperate for adaptability and, for employers and employees alike, unexpected consequences.
The gig economy generally? "It’s kind of the Wild West right now," Gene Zaino, president and CEO of MBO Partners, a business services company for contingent workers, told HR Dive. A whole new ecosystem of jobs and job-doers is emerging, but with that change comes increased risk at a time when employers really can’t afford it.
Shiftgig, our winner of Innovator of the Year, saw the potential in this new paradigm and ran with it.
The mobile platform raised $20 million in Series C funding at the beginning of the year, bringing its total raised to $59 million and beating out smaller competitors, according to the company. Shiftgig also added former leadership from LinkedIn to its C-suite, signaling its intention to scale up and cement itself as a leader in the gig space.
Today’s workforce doesn't look like the one from ten years ago, said Wade Burgess, the relatively new CEO of Shiftgig (and former LinkedIn guy). Millions of workers are demanding to be a part of this new, flexible paradigm, just as employers are realizing the power of real-time staffing.
The contingent workforce
This list is in order from least costly to most costly and most risky to least risky.
low cost Low risk,
- Freelancers and independent contractors
- Temporary and seasonal work
- Professional service providers
- Outsourced service providers
- Agency temp workers and staff augmentation
"The lion's share of the true gig economy, in my opinion, is not the person who worked full-time," Burgess told HR Dive. "It’s the side hustle. A parent that wants to be home when their kids come home from school. A college student, a retiree."
The contingent workforce has grown exponentially in a short time period. Seven years ago, most employers shied away from using such workers, Zaino said. But projections show that by 2020, around 50% of the workforce will either be in or have worked in the gig economy at some point. Already, 94% of employees are open to “non-traditional” work arrangements, and many employers have shifted their workplace strategies.
Employers expecting to hire only full-time, W2 employees may be in for a shock when the market simply isn’t there.
"If these stats coming to fruition are even half accurate," Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, said, "there just won’t be enough people to fill W2 roles soon."
Shiftgig employs a group of "specialists" that can pick up jobs from partnered employers through a mobile app. With over 40,000 users on its app, and 2,600 business partners, the tech company is well positioned to fill shifts in "real time." If an employer needs a worker at the last minute, they can post on Shiftgig and any Shiftgig specialist can pick it up.
"The relationship between workers and the places they work are changing," Burgess said. "It’s opening up an arrangement between people that have talent and organizations that need talent."
The marketplace Shiftgig envisions represents one solution to the skills gap: Hiring from sources of talent newly enabled to work when the need arises. The winners of the ongoing talent war will find ways to harness a growing group of digitally-sourced talent while also remaining compliant with employee classification rules and other regulations — a real challenge for the contingent workforce. The business atmosphere is volatile, and employers need to find ways to adjust but remain results-oriented. In other words: Project-based hiring is likely here to stay.
Correction: This story has been corrected with updated user data. The story was corrected to 40,000 app users and 2,600 business partners. We apologize for the error.
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