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Lorna Davidson came up with the idea for her business RedWigWam after spotting the potential to disrupt the temporary jobs market using artificial intelligence.
RedWigwam is a temporary agency aimed at particular groups, including parents who are on career breaks keep their hand in at work and earn a bit of money.
Lorna has already run her own flexible business, Tactical Solutions, a field marketing agency which involved hundreds of remote staff and was looking for a new challenge after selling it.
She came up with a selection of ideas for new businesses and in 2016 set up an umbrella group under which they all sit. RedWigWam was one idea and the one Lorna says she feels most passionate about.
She spotted a gap in the market for bright, able temporary staff with the right attitude to work. She realised, being a mum of three children aged 21, 19 and 15, that the younger generation didn’t want to work in traditional ways; that there were a lot of mums who had been out of the jobs market and needed a bit of confidence to get back in; and that there were also a growing number of people nearing retirement who weren’t ready to stop working.
RedWigWam is an online platform which functions a bit like an online dating site, matching people with temporary jobs according to their attributes, attitude and skills.
As the temping industry has a bad reputation for paying people slowly, RedWigWam makes sure people working for it are paid within 24 hours and are paid accurately. It also treats every registered person as a full employee, which means they may be eligible for the company pension scheme and other benefits and employment rights such as holiday pay.
The company now has 63,000 workers on its books and works with over 2,000 employers.
The matching process is done via an algorithm. Workers are notified of jobs which they match to and are sent reminders. They complete a timesheet once the job is completed which the hirer authorises online. They are then paid. Lorna says it operates with minimal human input unless there is a dispute. RedWigWam has a small sales team which works with hirers as well as a digital campaign team. Hirers are asked to rate workers when they complete a job. Those with the highest grade are emailed first about subsequent job opportunities. “It encourages people to do a good job,” says Lorna.
Hirers can see all the workers coming through and can decide if they want to take a risk on a new recruit. “It’s very transparent. Once you get your first job you are off,” says Lorna. The jobs available span the administrative, cleaning, hospitality, retail and field marketing industries. RedWigWam works with employers including Carlsberg, Innocent, Papa Johns, Centre Plate, Subway and DeeSet.
RedWigWam’s head office is based in a regeneration area in Liverpool, but staff can work remotely through video-linked software which allows colleagues to see each other while they are working, wherever they are. “I can hit a button and the mics come on and I can talk to people. It’s like leaning across the desk. The software also has instant messenger on it. People don’t need to be in the office to feel part of it,” says Lorna.
Hirers are offering anything from 15-minute assignments to three-month contracts. Workers specify how many hours a week they want to work and get to see any jobs in their area and choose which they want to do. If they accept a job, but then something comes up, they can unbook it on the system so the employer can find someone else. If they just fail to turn up they get marked down. If they do that three times their account is put on hold.
Hirers say how much they pay per hour. There is a small booking fee for the agency.
The model has been noticed and has won several awards including Best Temp Recruitment Agency at the 2018 UK Enterprise Awards.
Lorna says: “People simply have to register on our online platform and let us know what they’re good at. Jobs are then matched on a first come, first served basis, based on location, time available and skills. It couldn’t be more straightforward.”