How businesses are succeeding with the layered approach to staffing

Key takeaways

  • Businesses using the layered approach to staffing are able to draw on a ready-made pool of workers for recruiting permanent employees
  • Managers have been able to eliminate downtime and reduce the need to pay overtime
  • Some workers don't want permanent positions, so employers have to offer them other options to access their talent

Yesterday we launched our new white paper on the layered approach to staffing, explaining how a recurring set of shifts for workers on flexible schedules could provide an efficient buffer between short-term and permanent workers. Today we offer three case studies from Instawork business partners. In each, a manager or executive explains how the layered approach has provided benefits to their company. No one received any compensation for participating in these case studies.

Case study 1: The Organic Food Incubator (NJ)

OFI is a manufacturing and packaging facility for healthy foods and beverages, offering services to a variety of small and medium-sized businesses. As his business grew, OFI’s president, Michael Schwartz, started using the layered approach to recruit and bring in flexible workers out of necessity:

"We were just coming out of Covid, and we needed to do a pretty large hire. We were in a growth spurt, and we needed a lot of workers quickly. I tried Indeed and ZipRecruiter – it was a crapshoot. Nine times out of ten, the resumes I would contact wouldn't contact me back. If someone did contact me back, we'd have to go through the interview process and then try them out – it was really difficult.”

Using an online platform simplified the process. “They vet all the candidates, they suggest people to come in, and from there, we could really see how people worked and picked the best workers. That was really a great opportunity for us."

"We could really see how people worked and picked the best workers. That was really a great opportunity for us."

The hourly workforce has usually been about 35 people, making up about 85% of OFI’s payroll. Schwartz says he was able to make permanent hires from a handpicked roster of workers who picked up recurring shifts while maintaining his ability to respond to changes in demand.

"They got to know the job, and I was protected in case there was a downturn. I didn't have to worry that I was going to be stuck with a whole pile of employees that I couldn't keep. It turned out that the business stayed, and then we ended up bringing a few of them on full time, which was great."

OFI’s business is steady now, Schwartz says, but he has taken advantage of the recurring shifts to reduce downtime. He also continues to use the recurring layer of shifts to try out potential new employees. “We get a few people settled, then get a few more, then get a few more.” And when demand spikes, he says he goes to online platforms first. "It's a great resource."

Schwartz says he did check to see whether there would be a big difference in cost between flexible and permanent employees. “Of course that was one of the things we looked at. On the day-to-day, it's almost equal. It's only a few pennies, and well worth the flexibility."

Case study 2: Last-mile delivery operation (TX)

For a warehouse manager overseeing last-mile deliveries, the layered approach is a natural fit. With two permanent employees on site and demand that can change during the week as well as over the year, flexibility is key.

A steady roster of about 30 flexible workers handle volume for most of the week via a set of recurring shifts, the manager says, and downtime is a non-issue.

"People will message me and say, 'I can't work tomorrow, so I'm going to let my shift go to somebody else.' Coverage is not an issue. It's very rare we have no shows."

"Coverage is not an issue. It's very rare we have no shows."

For regular peak periods, the manager brings in responsive workers on a one-time basis. "Mondays are when we have to have on-demand, just because our volume exceeds the number of core members that we have." There’s also seasonal demand. "If we do use more, it's going be in the holiday season. You might foresee a 10% increase."

Some of those responsive workers can become part of the core group, too, the manager says. "Once they come in, and we get them trained up, the offer's always on the table depending on your work ethic and your availability. I have a waitlist of people who want a full week of work."

Case study 3: City center hotel (WA)

Hourly work in hotels is physically demanding and detail-oriented, so having a reliable pool of experienced workers is essential. Keeping costs down is also important, especially given the challenges that hospitality businesses have faced over the past several years. For these reasons, a housekeeping supervisor at a downtown hotel always has shifts available for Instawork Pros.

“I definitely don't want to see overtime among my associates. That's been my top priority." So the supervisor posts shifts during times with higher occupancy, bringing in five or six workers every weekend. "That's a pretty regular thing. That number is very consistent."

Over time, the supervisor built up a roster of about 15 trusted Pros to work these recurring shifts as housekeepers, room attendants, and breakfast attendants alongside a team of about 35 permanent employees. "They get the job done, and they're very professional. These 15, I could have them any day."

"They get the job done, and they're very professional."

The supervisor also brings in Pros on a regular basis to cover for permanent employees who can’t make it to work. The employees let the supervisor know if they need to take time off, and that’s when the supervisor goes to the roster.

“If there are any Pros who are available, they usually send me their schedule for the week, and I post the shifts. It's so easy. I know I can request it today, and I will have someone here the very next day, with so many options to choose from."

In terms of the overall staffing picture, using an app like Instawork has also allowed the supervisor to tap another pool of workers who aren’t necessarily looking for permanent positions. The supervisor has offered jobs to some Pros who work as room attendants and to a Pro who has filled in as a housekeeper for the better part of a year. But they said they preferred the flexibility of working via the Instawork platform.

"They're great but didn't want to be part of the team. They really enjoy what they do."

Read our new white paper and find out more about the layered approach to staffing.

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