“I guess it’s time for me to quit,” a woman told her supervisor. “The new school semester is about to start, and this schedule obviously doesn’t work with my classes.”

Her supervisor had another idea — an idea that worked better for both the woman and the company. The woman switched from working her standard, full-time schedule to working with Ōnin’s Ōnin FLEX program for the school year.

She wasn’t the only person empowered by a new, revolutionary program that was just beginning to change the light industrial and manufacturing industry.

A man walked into an Ōnin Staffing branch. He was having cash flow problems in his personal life. He wanted a “real job,” but he couldn’t wait a standard week to see his first paycheck. With Ōnin FLEX, he began working immediately and received his paycheck within 24 hours. He was sold on a new way to work. In an era where motivated workers are hard to find, so was the client company.

That’s the power of Ōnin’s developing Ōnin FLEX program.

An Inflexible Beginning

The plant manager at a world-class poultry company was unhappy. The plant was 50 people short for their upcoming shift, and this wasn’t the first time they had been understaffed. The fact of the matter was, Ōnin was struggling to find all the team members the company needed.

As a staffing partner, it’s our job to help clients build productive teams, but recruiting isn’t easy for anyone. As of the third quarter of 2022, there were 66 workers for every 100 jobs and a 2.7% national quit rate.

Successful recruiting is all about building a win-win between employers and workers. We knew a productive team equaled a win for the client company, but we needed to understand what would make the job a win for workers.

Typical enticements, like increasing pay, weren’t attracting people, so Ōnin conducted extensive employee interviews to determine what workers actually needed. We found many employees were struggling to work within the confines of traditional shifts. Their lives were evolving, but their work schedules weren’t evolving with them.

The pandemic and the uncertain conditions that followed introduced new challenges into the lives of workers that made adhering to a strict schedule increasingly unsustainable. School, childcare needs and health issues simply didn’t play nice with traditional manufacturing schedules. Not to mention, a new generation of workers with a completely different set of work expectations had begun to enter the job market in full force as baby boomers retired.

At the core, workers wanted more control — control over their schedules, their time, and their lives. To help our client build the productivity they needed, we needed to help workers achieve that control.

That’s when the idea of the Ōnin FLEX program was born.

The terms of Ōnin FLEX are simple. Teammates can set their own shift schedule from the convenience of a smartphone app and be paid the next day for their work.

The program is still in the launching process, but thus far, the risk of pulling off a revolutionary new program has been worth it for all parties involved.

Within just a few months of implementation, there are almost 900 Ōnin Teammates enrolled in the Ōnin FLEX program. As for those 50 people missing per shift — they’ve been magically “found” as a new generation of modern workers enthusiastically swaps traditional schedule options for flexibility and freedom.

Who is the Modern Flex Worker?

Tiffany White wears a lot of hats — she’s a nurse by trade, but she’s also a nanny and a food delivery driver, among other enterprises. All of the jobs she works offer flexible schedule options.

“I was in nursing school for a year before my granny got really sick, and I had to come back to Birmingham. That’s what started the flexible working,” said Tiffany. “It allows me to get my granny to her doctor’s appointment. I want to take care of the people who’ve taken care of me. That comes naturally because I’m a compassionate person.”

Tiffany is a catch for employers. She’s smart, hard-working, empathetic and a savvy problem-solver — skills she puts to use in every aspect of her life. Tiffany meticulously plans her schedule from her smartphone each day based on her personal obligations and budgeting goals, which she calculates on a monthly and weekly basis.

As Tiffany drives to and from her nursing job, she often delivers DoorDash orders along her route so that even her commute is an income-generating activity. On the weekends, Tiffany often satisfies her wanderlust through her traveling nannying gig for high-income families.

“There’s so much demand for freedom,” says Tiffany. “If employers don’t tap into that market of people, they’re going to sink.”

Tiffany is just one person in a growing demographic of flexible workers. While many employees still desire the predictability of a traditional schedule, there is a large demographic of modern workers who both want and need flexibility.

Ultimately, flexibility-driven workers tend to fall into three groups:


The Student

Eighteen to 24-year-olds are prime-age workers, but many of them (42.1% to be exact) are enrolled in college. What’s more, 70% of college students work while enrolled. Of those students who work, 85% have one job, while 15% hold multiple positions. In other words, these students are highly motivated to work, but they need an employer who will give them flexibility.

The Caregiver/Parent

Many parents and caregivers don’t have the resources to juggle a traditional
job. Roughly 51% of Americans live in a childcare desert, meaning their community does not provide enough childcare for the population of children in the area. What’s more, many workers cannot afford to pay for childcare even when there are available services — an issue worsened by inflation.

“Us being able to stay with the same company and then allow us to have the flexibility of our hours, our schedule, whichever days we need, is just so helpful,” says Ōnin FLEX Teammate Erica Passmore. “It’s helpful for younger moms or people who don’t have child care.”

The Freedom-Seeker

Many of these workers think of themselves, not as employees, but as entrepreneurs who loan their labor out to the companies whose schedules, pay, benefits and job tasks are the best fit. Instead of relying on one job for survival, they create a portfolio of economic activity to create a sustainable lifestyle tailored to their needs. These workers may be balancing school schedules or caretaking needs along with an economic need for work, or they may simply value the freedom to work when, where and for whom they want.

Adapting to a New Future of Work

Workers are ready for a new way to work, but job flexibility is a relatively new concept, especially in light industrial and manufacturing settings. It’s up to today’s employers to be willing to innovate and open to new possibilities.

It’s also important to note that flex work can be complex and requires the right partner.

That’s a role Ōnin has naturally fallen into. Ōnin’s holistic approach to staffing, as well as our national resources and state-of-the-art technology, have allowed us to build a sophisticated ability to coordinate between clients, individual workers and a myriad of resources that makes the Ōnin FLEX program work as it continues to evolve.

Ultimately, flex work represents a vital way to attract, engage and retain modern workers.

“Whether you are dealing with a warehouse or a hospital, people have emotions. They don’t want to just be a number. They want their company to care,” says Tiffany. “That’s what flexibility gives workers. It makes employees loyal to a company in a different way because people still have the freedom to make their own decisions. Companies that can offer that are ahead of the curve.”