“Work Available Everywhere” sounds like the perfect tagline amid recent shifts in the U.S. labor market. The Rochester-based technology of the same name – more familiarly known by the acronym WAE – seeks to capitalize on those recent trends and revolutionize the workforce by providing employers and workers with ease and flexibility.
WAE is dubbed as an on-demand centralized scheduling software that links workers with employees, bringing the gig economy to staffing in the health care, manufacturing and hospitality sectors. The latest endeavor from Career Start and Tallavera parent company Aboldco, WAE is aimed at transforming the way people work by offering employees coveted flexibility and aiding employers with staffing and scheduling while reducing costs associated with hiring and onboarding.
Lindsay McCutchen, founder and CEO of Aboldco, said the idea for WAE was born several years ago during a brainstorming exercise on ways to put your company out of business. McCutchen, who operates staffing agencies, said the main idea was someone cutting out the staffing market and operating a system that resembled ridesharing, or what we now call the “gig economy.”
“Uber, Lyft, DoorDash; these technology companies have changed our landscape whether employers want to accept it or not, because what they’ve given to people is flexibility,” McCutchen said. “They’ve given people the ability to work on their own terms and still earn money.”
WAE aims to provide the same type of flexibility for workers in healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality, and, potentially, more fields in the future.
McCutchen said the platform also aids companies who find it increasingly difficult to hire and retain workers. In the healthcare space specifically, McCutchen said WAE allows hospital systems and other providers to “throw their hats into the ring of the gig economy” and access much-needed personnel. WAE can substantially reduce the administrative burden of back-and-forth hiring, according to McCutchen.
“Think about posting a job on Indeed, looking through the applicants, calling them in, having an interview, getting them set up with payroll. None of that happens with WAE,” she said, adding the platform offers companies stability and speed to placement.
With WAE, employers post positions and prospective employees can see the wage being offered and the length and hours of the assignment. Workers can accept a job with the click of a button and employers are notified immediately. Once a worker accepts a job, instructions for reporting are sent along with GPS directions to the jobsite, and employees are clocked in with the app upon arrival.
Employers and employees can also rate one another, providing feedback that can aid both parties in the future.
WAE, which McCutchen said has a “keen focus on health care,” can verify certification for nurses and match hospital systems with other workers such as patient transporters and environmental service workers. McCutchen said WAE serves as a scheduling device for hospital systems that often manage thousands of employees.
“We found a huge need in hospital systems to get control of scheduling,” McCutchen said. “The WAE technology provides ease and flexibility in the scheduling and gives real, on-demand analytics for vacancies and scheduling, which is really important in hospital systems, especially with nurse-to-patient ratios.”
Access to on-demand labor and work could fundamentally change the employee-employer relationship, McCutchen said, as well as improve worker satisfaction and employer performance. Companies constantly fret about retention rates for entry and mid-skill level workers, but McCutchen said some may need to rethink their approach.
Many workers have obstacles that prevent them from working a rigid, full-time schedule, McCutchen said, and WAE could broaden the pool of available workers.
“People may not be able to commit to a full-time schedule, and now we’ve given them the power of flexibility to commit to one shift at a time or a three-week schedule at a time,” McCutchen said. “People are looking for culture, flexibility and to work on their own terms.”
WAE also fits in with what Millennial and Gen Z workers are looking for, mainly flexibility over benefits and compensation, and employers may need to reshape hiring and staffing models.
“It’s really a mindset shift and I’m finding that companies that have that mindset shift are the companies that are winning the war on talent,” McCutchen said.
Healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality companies have successfully piloted WAE, McCutchen said, and a full version is expected to hit the App Store in the coming months. WAE will continue to focus on those three sectors but plans to expand in the future.
Employers interested in using the platform can contact WAE through its website: mywae.com, and McCutchen said interested employees can download it in the App Store as soon as April.
McCutchen said perhaps the most exciting aspect of WAE for her is what it could mean for the Rochester community.
“If somebody can only work two days a week and they’re unable to find some sort of part-time job, this technology adds value by promoting more income to individuals by giving them a shift at a time,” McCutchen said. “What we’ll see is people earning more money through flexibility and that’s big for our community in Rochester, especially with the poverty rates we have. People will have choice and flexibility and the ability to earn on their own terms, and I think it will have a profound impact on our community.”
Matthew Reitz is a Rochester-area freelance writer.m