Forge. Definition: To Create. Build. Construct. Form. Establish.
My best friend came to high school one day and told me she got a job. She was going to start working in retail the following week. She’d start earning her own money so she could buy a few things here and there. Throughout the rest of high school and college, she collected paychecks and would talk about the work she did, the people she met and the customers she helped.
From what I could tell, she really loved it. Seven years later, she was still with it. But now the retail job wasn’t just income to use during school, it was the income. She had a dog, and a husband. She was trying to support a lifestyle.
Along the way, she picked up a second job, and then a third.
She called me one night to illustrate the challenges of living by a changing schedule created by a manager each week. She was trying her best to balance a personal life — time with her husband, time learning new skills, wanting to raise a family — with working the hours required at her jobs. But she felt that not being able to adequately balance these things made her a less productive employee, stressed mother, and an unhappier wife.
This is the career story for so many people in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 58% of Americans, like my best friend, are working hourly jobs. Many people first get exposure to these jobs in high school, and then decide to make a career of working them.
Conversations with friends over the course of 2015 and 2016 further illustrated the challenges of trying to balance a personal life with the hours required to work without fear of being fired. How was it that in 2015 people could be working so hard, yet still miss out on key moments in life? Developing personal hobbies. Watching kids grow up. Spending quality time with aging parents.
Since it became clear to me, people are spending the majority of their time at work or thinking about work, I became obsessed with asking people how they chose what to do for work. In 2015, I published a book all about it. I later came across an article in 2015 about the upstarts of companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Amazon Flex. While these companies gave people the opportunity to create flexibility in their career, they didn’t offer a way for an existing hourly employees- who actually like their job(s)- to have flexibility.
In 2016, I decided to set out on a mission to change that with Forge. I wanted to create a way that my best friend could keep her existing jobs, but have more say in which hours she worked at which jobs. I hoped this would give her the ability to create a more balanced life based on her own personal goals.
Over the past three years, a team of us have been building flexible scheduling and talent sharing technology. Our software empowers employees to pick the shifts that they work at one workplace or across multiple. It enables employees to manage their schedules and never be double booked for shifts across multiple jobs. Additionally, it creates work life balance to prevent conflict with life activities (like that first recital for a child or the half marathon you’ve been training for!).
After three years of working with clients, we know that the most successful work experience for both the employee and the employer requires balance. It is giving the employee a level of control in their work schedule and supporting them as a human being beyond just their shift.
It is giving employees the ability to create, form, build, establish – or FORGE- their own life with their job as just one component of it.
To date, thousands of employees at hundreds of companies are using Forge to craft their life around their work OR their work around their life (whichever way you prefer to see it).
And while it’s been three years, we feel that we’re just getting started in achieving work life balance for employees! If you want to learn more about hiring and retaining your employees through flexibility and talent sharing, please reach out and/or follow our journey!
By: Stacey Ferreira