Silicon Valley's Shadow Workforce Rises Up

A recent CNBC article highlighted the growth of freelance workers at Silicon Valley startups – approximately 40,000 Bay Area workers today are freelancer contractors, working without benefits like healthcare, PTO, and 401(k) accounts.

This “shadow workforce” – contractors who hide in plain sight, working alongside full-time permanent employees, but often treated as second class citizens – is increasingly the norm in Silicon Valley.

If you’re looking for the “canary in the coal mine” about how pervasive this trend has become, this quote from the CNBC article sums it up nicely:

“This year (2018) at Google, contract workers outnumbered direct employees for the first time in the company's 20-year history.”

Noodle on that for a minute.

More than 50% of Google workers are not actual Google employees. And this is at Google, a company heavily populated with white collar workers!

That’s because white collar workers are the fastest growing portion of the contract “shadow” workforce.

As someone who lives the reality of a contractor worker daily (I currently have 5 simultaneous gigs), it’s no surprise that contractors throughout Silicon Valley are demanding equal and better treatment.

Just today, Google employees asked to not carry “Scarlet Letter” badges around that identify them as contractors, and to also receive better benefits and workplace protections.

I stand in solidarity with these workers.

A company cannot ethically or practically outsource its fiduciary responsibility to care for its most valued asset – its workers – by creating a two-tiered system of workers. Engaging a flexible workforce does not absolve a company of caring for, protecting, and training these workers.

As a community and country, we cannot outsource our moral obligation to care for our workers – it not only hurts every business that does this irresponsibly by creating continuity and operational risks, but it hurts corporate culture, workers’ families, and communities nationwide.

It’s time to rewrite the contract between employers and contractors. Join us at Turning Basin Labs if you’d like to have a voice in where and how you work, ownership in a business, and an ally helping you to find high-road employment.

Nick Ellis
"But the era of life-long jobs will soon be over. Society needs a new social contract.”

Adecco’s CEO, Alaine Dehaze, is the canary in the coal mine warning us about the need to restructure our job training systems.

To be clear, Adecco lose money training workers – it’s an expense, and an unwelcome reality for most staffing firms who would rather see people working billable hours.

That said, the reason Adecco and other global staffing leaders have zeroed-in on the importance of job training is that they have a front-row seat to the hard realities of the modern workforce: high turnover, low retention, stagnant wages, and increasing worker frustration.

This has less to do with automation, and more to do with an education and employment training system that is decades out of date.

(Re)training is too slow, costly, and uncertain for most workers – it’s simply not worth the risk.

Which is why at Turning Basin Labs, we’ve designed our cooperative staffing agency to provide financial support for life-long worker upskilling, eliminating much of the risk to get upskilled.

The math is simple: we set aside $1.04 - $1.32 from every hour billed, and ensure that money is available for future training. The average TBL worker has ~$840/year available for training.

Alaine is right – we desperately need a new social contract for workers.

We believe Turning Basin Labs is that new social contract.

Join TBL, and experience the future of work today.

Nick Ellis
Founder Stephen Bediako On Why Diversity Matters to Business

Now more than ever Diversity is critical to the way we do business. In the modern day the way we work is diverse ranging from meetings, to writing, to video/ chat communication, to building products and services for bespoke groups. Some companies get ahead of it and hard wire it into their work (ie Checkr) while others rely on an event to kick them into gear (ie Starbucks). The teams who are most diverse have a proliferation of views and insights to build the best businesses and services. Increasingly the clients and customers of tomorrow are diverse - with a range of people usually buying a service or product to satisfy a range of needs and interests.

At Turning Basin Labs we are building a cooperative staffing agency to work with the best employers who want to build diverse and inclusive teams.

Were looking for help to build three things, because we don’t have the answers today, and we need to find them:

  • We want to build an understanding of both the moral and business value of diversity.

  • We want to understand and develop a clear offer for workers through our cooperative model.

  • We want to secure clients and organisations to help them build diverse teams.

We hope you will join us on the journey.

Stephen Bediako
Why We Run a Transparent Staffing Agency

In the world of staffing, sharing your client’s name is considered foolhardy.

Most recruiters would say “why the hell would you tell your competitors (other agencies) who’s hiring, so that they can solicit their business?!”

Such disbelief underscores two misconceptions:

1) Employers have no loyalty to staffing agencies, and

2) Candidates have no loyalty or reason to work with a staffing agency once they know who’s hiring, and will instead “go around” the agency and apply directly to the employer.

Our experience at Turning Basin Labs (TBL) points to the contrary.

To the first misconception, employers are loyal to staffing agencies who perform. In the world of staffing, most agencies are “guilty until proven innocent” – they are considered a liability until they place a high quality candidate. But once a good placement is made, the relationship changes dramatically – employers commit to agencies that deliver.

To the second misconception, our experience is that candidates are looking for an “in” to a company, ideally through a trusted source. At TBL, we know our clients intimately, often having worked with them for years as advisors and consultants. Which means we intimately know the people, the culture, and their goals – and they know us. So when we recommend a candidate, they take it seriously.

For candidates, this means you can avoid the “blackhole” of online job applications, and instead get a direct, personal recommendation from a TBL recruiter who can tell you the whole story about the company.

So, don’t be surprised when you see our clients names in our job postings – it’s an effort at transparency that we believe leads to higher quality candidates, less BS, faster placements, stronger client relationships, and more extraordinary outcomes.

Check out our client’s open positions today, and learn why TBL is a different type of staffing agency.

"Stay close to the money."

One of the most successful bond traders I know once told me, “Stay close to the money.”

When Sue spoke those words, she was giving me insight into how influence and power were determined in the investment bank we once worked at together.

Today, those words could not ring more true: money is power. Money determines influence.

As a staffing and recruitment business, our primary goal is to put you to work in either a temporary or permanent job (see all our open jobs here) so that any worker can earn more money, power, and influence.

We do this through a cooperative business ownership model, whereby every worker that we place in a job becomes a “member owner” in Turning Basin Labs Cooperative, Inc.

Every member owner has a vote in how we run TBL.

Every member owner participates in profit-sharing (formally called “patronage”) if we turn a profit at the end of the year (our fiscal year ends December 31).

To give you some sense of how much money TBL can return to member owners, if you were to work 1,000 hours through TBL in 2018, you’ll receive a $3,500 patronage payout.

If you work through TBL full-time – 2080 hours/year – you’ll earn over $10,000, plus benefits like healthcare, disability insurance, dental & vision insurance, and access to mentorship.

As a worker-owned cooperative, we’ve designed TBL to allow every worker to stay close to the money.

If you’re interested in high-road jobs that allow you to “stay close to the money”, then join us at TBL today.

Nick Ellis