Why Jyve Invests in People

By Brad Oberwager, CEO of Jyve

In 2010, I was the CEO of Bare Snacks, working to grow the healthy snack brand out of its niche and into the national mainstream. To do so, I relied heavily on my team of 14 diversely talented employees pounding the pavement, making it all happen — from engaging customers and store managers to stocking shelves and creating attention-grabbing displays. To give you a picture of the challenge we faced, we were up against major snack brands with upwards of 20,000 boots on the ground handling these same tasks.

This challenge stuck with me. That discrepancy had to be keeping all kinds of upstart brands with quality products from getting over the hump and into stores. Not to mention, it’s just plain inefficient. If smaller brands are going to take on the behemoths, they need to be able to find skilled talent they can rely upon when they need it.

Conversely, if big brands and grocers want to grow with the changing economy, they’ve got to break out of their old models and evolve. Part-time employees of grocers are turning over at an alarmingly high rate due to ‘low wages, low company loyalty, and the lure of better opportunities.’

With Jyve, I saw an opportunity to give skilled workers who feel undervalued the loyalty they seek, the compensation they’ve earned and the flexibility they desire while also creating an entirely new model for brands and grocers to staff at scale, as needed, without compromising their long term financial goals. Jyve addresses the specific needs of grocers and retailers by connecting them to quality people with the necessary skills, at the right cost and the right time.

Over the last three years, we’ve built a growing fleet of 6,000+ Jyvers spanning 31 states who help brands market their products in stores. Our Jyvers manage the brand at its most crucial level and handle everything from ordering and auditing to e-commerce fulfillment, customer service, and display building.

To let our Jyvers know how much we value them, we’ve created a transparent environment in which it’s clear where and when the job takes place and how much it pays. Our payment system allows Jyvers to get paid more the more Jyves they get done, as opposed to being paid less for accomplishing a task in a shorter amount of time like traditional, hourly wage jobs. Plus, the better they perform, the more jobs will become available to them. As an employer working with a Jyver, you know you’ve got someone fully invested in completing the task at a high level.

As a people-first company, our responsibility is to help our Jyvers grow their skill-sets and lead more fulfilling lives. To that end, we’ve created Jyve University and our Jyve Guru mentorship program — initiatives that offer guidance and training to our Jyvers enabling them to take on a greater variety of tasks, earn more and better wages and achieve their personal goals. Whether simply to diversify their work or to satisfy their career ambitions, Jyve helps them get there. In fact, we’re already seeing that happen. Many of our Jyvers have gone to accept full-time positions at either Jyve Corporate, or the brands they Jyve for — we genuinely celebrate the success of our Jyvers, whatever it may look like for them.

Our approach is already having an impact. For instance, Jyvers Vera and Steve are a husband and wife team that Jyve together. Vera had been working as a grocery store manager when Steve suffered a heart attack. His doctors told him he needed to increase his activity level. Jyve provided him a way to do that while earning a living and spending more time with his wife, who ultimately left her manager position to Jyve with him.

Jyvers Vera and Steve, a husband and wife team, and Jermayne, a Jyve Market Manager, stop for a quick photo with shopper Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons

At Jyve, personal stories mean something to us. We understand that people sometimes feel like ‘cogs in machines,’ but we believe they are more than just bodies performing tasks. They’re real people with valuable skills, ambitions, and lives outside of work. We’re paying attention to that, and creating something new.

To be honest, I don’t like the term ‘gig economy.’ It’s too broad. Too undignified. To us, it’s less about the gig and more about the person. That’s why we’re creating the Skill Economy — a new way of work that encourages personal growth and places the appropriate value on the individual’s skills.

Now that we’re proudly telling the world about Jyve, I’m looking forward to hearing even more stories like Vera and Steve’s. As our industry evolves, we’re committed to growing our base of Jyvers and providing people with new and unique opportunities to thrive.