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Shutterfly’s Shakopee facility is now using an app called My Work Choice to fill in its workforce gaps during its busiest seasons.

Tana Greene, the CEO of a staffing company based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, realized three years ago that something about her temporary-hire staffing company needed to change. Workers were using their temporary jobs as part-time flex jobs so they could have other gigs or take care of their kids at home. Clients were reporting too many absences and workers wanted more flexibility.

Greene had a thought: in a “gig” economy that runs off smartphones and work-when-you-want schedules, there was no reason her staffing company shouldn’t be able to adapt. So it did.

“A lot of people can’t work around a lifestyle,” Greene said. “Now you have people who need that flexibility, and they don’t know it’s available.”

MyWorkChoice is a staffing agency that works through an app. Employees are hired into entry-level jobs within a day of applying and can pick up shifts immediately.

“We’re taking dignity back to that worker,” Greene said.

The staffing model is growing in popularity in places like Los Angeles, Greene said. Companies like Fossil Group and Nordstrom now use it to fill their staffing needs and cut down on no-shows. But in recent months , the model has moved east to the Shutterfly warehouse in Shakopee.

During busy seasons such as the holidays, companies like Shutterfly often need to hire temporary employees to fill the influx of orders. When the job market is tight, hiring short-term employees is no easy task. With MyWorkChoice, employees are able to accept a shift on their phones and get from their couch to the warehouse in an hour.

The employees are on payrolls through My Work Choice, not Shutterfly, and are paid between $14 and $16 per hour. And instead of eight to 10 hour shifts common at most warehouses, MyWorkChoice workers only work six-hour shifts.

“It makes it a lot easier for sideline workers to take these jobs,” Greene said, adding in the last three months, 74% of people who started with MyWorkChoice were not looking for work because they didn’t know they could have the option of flexibility.

“They could be students, mothers, retirees… people who would like to work but don’t want to commit to a strict schedule,” Greene said.

Greene said the goal would be for more businesses in Shakopee to jump on this model so MyWorkChoice employees could be certified to pick up shifts at multiple businesses in the area. And it helps businesses, too. If an employee is sick or chooses not to work, they can release their shift on the app, and another person will pick it up. This dramatically cuts down on absences, Greene said.

“You can, with a click of a button, push your shift back to community members, and 100% of the time somebody picks it up,” Greene said. “It’s a community. Somebody else wants that shift.”

Workers using the app are strictly rated on performance, like Uber drivers. If they lose a star, they can get it back by picking up someone else’s dropped shift.

Shari Dugstad, a spokesperson for Shutterfly in Shakopee, said the company started out with 25 workers who used the app, and now it’s up to 100. She said the model has so far been successful. The company’s full-time production workers still work year-round, but for people in the area who want a more flexible job option, the app is the way to go.

“It’s a very competitive staffing market, and we’re looking for creative ways to fill our staffing needs, and this is one of the ways we can do that,” Dugstad said.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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