Burton’s Biscuits and Proper Snacks tap flexible workforce to cope with increased Christmas and COVID demands

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

A flexible workforce means extra feet on the ground that can be switched on and off as needed. Pic: GettyImages/Rawpixel
A flexible workforce means extra feet on the ground that can be switched on and off as needed. Pic: GettyImages/Rawpixel

Related tags Burton's Biscuits Proper Snacks workforce

According to the UK platform Redwigwam, an increasing number of brands are turning to a flexible workforce to keep up with supply challenges.

This is a typical scenario in the run-up to Christmas; however, this year, snack producers have been given a double whammy to meet the increased demand for treats as consumers cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

“A second wave of COVID-19 cases combined with Peak is stretching the industry to its limits,”​ said Lorna Davidson, CEO of Liverpool-based Redwigwam, the UK’s largest flexible working community.

“The need for huge numbers of flexible, temporary workers is high, partly to meet the increased demands of customers but also to combat the challenge of existing workers having to isolate at home.

“Having access to a pool of talented flexible workers gives companies the scope to turn on and off their hiring to meet the changing needs of the business.”

Bigger talent pool

Burton’s Biscuit Co is one of the companies to have contracted Redwigwam to boost its workforce to cope with the seasonal demand, along with a seamless rollout of a new orange variant of its Wagon Wheel biscuits.

According to the biscuit baker – which traces its history back to the mid-1800s – more than 125 million Wagon Wheels are consumed by Brits every years.

According to Will Jennings, sales controller at Burton’s, a flexible workforce has become an increasingly popular go-to solution in recent years.

“The reality is that temporary working is morphing into flexible working and we are seeing this more and more as people are looking for greater flexibility in their lives,” ​he said.

“There is an increasing appetite for flexible working as businesses have to re-evaluate costs and overheads. Flexible working becomes more important as it gives you the option to turn on or off as appropriate for the business.”

He added people’s increasing appetite to work flexibly also means a bigger talent pool to choose from.

“It gives us the ability to be reactive. If we have a brief around NPD or a stock challenge, we can contact Redwigwam and we can get a solution quickly, in real-time.

“But there has also been a paradigm shift online and one of the services they offer is online optimisation support to ensure our presence online is as strong as it is in store.”

Jo Harwood, sales director of Burton’s, added, “When short term issues arise in supermarkets, we need to be able to react quickly to understand what’s going on in terms of whether products are in store and where in store. We can contact Redwigwam and within 24 hours they can send someone out to every store in the country,

“We have recently launched new products such as orange Wagon Wheels and we wanted to know that the NPD  had got out to stores quickly and whether stores had launched as planned.”

Extra feet on the ground

Another producer to make use of the flexible worker concept is Proper Snacks.

Much of the London'-based healthy snack producer’s work is governed by seasonal activations and regular promotions, which often requires a flexible workforce that can be switched on and off. It also experienced an increase in the demand for snacks – both online and instore – and connecting with additional feet on the ground made this happen.

Proper has also used Redwigwam for jobs ranging from ensuring physical stock is set up correctly to ad hoc store visits and ensuring products are presented in the best possible way.

Lorna Davidson, CEO of Redwigwam, said the AI-powered online platform allows businesses to dial up and down their worker requirements to meet their real-time needs.

“While we work with larger organisations such as Coca-Cola, Tesco, Morrison’s and Burton’s Biscuits, we are also seeing increasing demand from ambitious scale-ups such as Proper.”

Redwigwam’s payroll system also gives its base of over 130,000 registered workers the power to choose whether they want to be paid daily, weekly or monthly.

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