When I started Empleo, my aim was to create a supportive network for employers to provide helpful services to their workers that were more accessible and responded to the diverse needs of workers. I grew up where my parents owned a small bakery that served our community and helped me and my siblings get through college. I’ve seen firsthand that when a small business thrives in a healthy and strong way, it can provide for the community it serves.
Late last year, we saw a 24.6% increase in the number of new small businesses starting. Many of those who started businesses were women, particularly women of color. Despite this growing trend, the pandemic has still disproportionately affected business owners of color due to systemic inequalities, civil unrest, and the struggle to secure loans. And, if they are struggling to survive, they will struggle to support the communities they serve, including their workers, which tend to be workers of color.
Plus, the types of workers are changing. The pandemic has changed a lot of workers from being full-time to part-time, contract, or even “gig” due to cost-saving measures by employers. 32% of organizations are completely replacing full-time workers with “contingent” workers. Most employers do not provide or cannot provide affordable support to their workers. Workers end up not being able to show up to work, or suffer in their physical, emotional, and mental well-being because they are taking on too many responsibilities on their own.
Let’s face it, many workers' responsibilities have increased while their pay has not. Wages have been slow to grow since the Great Recession in 2008/9. Not a lot of workers have extra money saved up to find support for their health and well-being. They also do not have money to learn about financial literacy and planning. The majority of parents in the United States cannot find permanent solutions to their childcare, and the available spots get filled very quickly. Employers are potentially left with coverage shortages and/or finding it hard to find and retain workers.
Empleo’s pricing model is specific to small businesses. We tackle both the problem of affordability and accessibility. Empleo allows business owners to invest what they can quarterly, allowing for budget fluctuations throughout the year. We do not go through brokers, which can keep costs down low.
We help employers retain talented workers because we help them show that they actually care about their workers’ well-being; and that they are committed to tackling their problems more holistically. One of the top reasons workers leave their jobs is because their employer does not offer them adequate support, i.e., health services, childcare, etc. That is coupled with the fact that 11% of workers cannot afford to work because they have competing caregiving responsibilities. Other factors for workers leaving their job has a lot to do with job stress that is not being counterbalanced with mental health support.
Empleo provides employers with a way to tackle all these symptoms that lead to heavy job turnover, missed work, or late arrivals. We help to support the bigger issues workers may be facing, which in turn, drastically supports the employer from facing productivity slowdowns or high hiring costs.
We work with employers’ budgets to see what employers can afford each quarter, without bombarding them with a price they must stick with for the rest of the fiscal year. Depending on the employer’s financials, they are still able to be aware of their workers’ needs and provide for different types of demographics at a low cost. The same benefits available to full-time workers can be distributed to those who otherwise would not have this opportunity for support. This automatically makes small businesses more attractive to workers and can lead to higher retention rates.
It is important to note that minority-owned business owners are now, more than ever, likely to hire more workers than those of non-minority-owned businesses. They also tend to add more services that serve and service their communities and workers than those owned by non-people of color. Empleo can help these businesses continue to grow and expand their reach to their diverse workers equitably.
Empleo was created out of a desire to serve the community, hence why it is a public benefits corporation and not a standard S-corporation. Empleo, therefore, promotes the importance of equity amongst the workers it services. We provide services that benefit all aspects of workers’ personal lives and well-being and target some of our services to workers’ unique experiences as well, particularly to their lived experiences. We provide safe access to well-being services supporting women of color and those who identify as LGBTQAI+, specifically.
We encourage employers to support their “blue-collar” workers and “white-collar” workers equitably; and work with them to consider all their workers' needs. For example, “blue-collar” workers may need more support with financial literacy, childcare, health, and well-being. They usually have less access to the time or money it takes, compared to what “white-collar” workers may have, to take off and receive these services. Therefore, we work with employers to ensure they offer a variety of services that everyone they employ can take advantage of.
Work is changing. The way individuals work and how they work has shifted, and people are starting to understand that work is just a small part of one’s life. There are so many more responsibilities and aspects that a person has to think about; that, with the right support, can help them stay in their jobs and thrive. Retaining people has gotten harder too; businesses have to respond to the changing work trends if they want to continue supporting their communities. Empleo can help make both the employers and the diverse workers professional and personal lives stronger, more efficient, through our marketplace, offering a diverse range of support that is readily available, vetted, transparent, affordable, and accessible.