The Runner Effect: Shifts in the Labor Force Usher in Big Changes

Americans have a lot on their plate between new variants, the spread of Monkeypox, and the divisive midterm elections. But one area where people are unwilling to compromise is work.

Since the pandemic shut down the world in 2020, many Americans learned how to function in a world of Zoom calls and Slack messaging, adapting to a work-from-home structure that alternated between immensely convenient and confining.

When the world slowly remerged from hibernation, more people left their jobs in favor of work that permitted more autonomy and opportunities for natural growth.

Runner has emerged as the labor marketplace that connects startups with people looking for part-time work. Think Upwork. Think Fiver. But better.

Where Did Runner Come From?

Runner comes from humble beginnings. The cutting-edge company was founded by Arlan Hamilton, a resilient entrepreneur who built a venture capital fund from the ground up while homeless.

She is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that invests in people who hail from traditionally marginalized groups, such as people of color, women, and the LGBT community.

Now Hamilton has her sights on the labor marketplace. When you're in a staffing pinch or believe your startup doesn't have the appropriate resources, you can turn to Runner to help achieve your staffing and operations goals.

“So thankful to the team @hirerunner for helping make Austin Startup Crawl such a success,” Carley Deardorff tweeted. Another happy customer thanked Hamilton and her team for delivering speedy results. “Y'all made a match for me with talent w/skills I've DREAMT about finding SOMEDAY,” said Sara Lobkovich before adding that she was “speechless” because the new hire could start immediately.

What Makes Runner Different?

What makes Runner unique from similar marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiver is that Runner employs its users registered on their website, which means they receive a W-2.

“For operations talent, we provide access to a network of inclusive mission-driven companies to be able to do the work they want to do, fractionally or temp to perm based on their desire,” asserts the Runner mission statement.

This allows workers to receive health benefits and increase job stability compared to traditional freelancers. Currently, approximately 200 “runners” are available for hire on the site. The main talent categories are human resources, executive assistants, operations, and consultants.

“Where do you go right now if you want to be someone's right hand, the COO, etc. … it's sort of an afterthought for most,” explains Hamilton.

The new platform has no signs of slowing down. Hamilton and her team hope to have 1,000 people working on their site who take in an average of $40,000, a goal they hope to reach by the end of 2022.

The Digital Hiring Marketplaces Trend

The hardworking minds at Runner could change the way businesses approach hiring forever.

Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb were all conceived as outlier ideas that have now permeated the mainstream and become an essential part of our daily lives. Runner could be next.

Runner joins the many digital marketplaces expected to add $2.7 trillion to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. These digital marketplaces are also projected to increase employment by 72 million full-time positions.

And people are catching on. Searches for “hiring marketplace” have spiked 185% over the last few years.

Fast Forward to the Future of Employment

The pandemic served as a reality check for many Americans unhappy with their employment. The hospitality industry, in particular, took a shellacking, losing 1 million workers in November 2021.

At the same time, freelancing exploded across the country, as many people realized this new way of working afforded them freedoms not feasible in the traditional 9 to 5 work model. 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs last year, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That pool of workers is exactly who Runner is looking for. At the same time that Runner targets freelancers, companies are turning inward to find talent for new roles. Companies are starting to develop internal hiring marketplaces to help match existing employees to open positions in the organization.

Unilever reallocated 4,000 employees to high-demand areas, unlocking over 300,000 hours of productivity.

“At their core, talent marketplaces are about bridging talent supply and demand,” says Emily Field, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. “A digital talent marketplace reveals who within your organization wants new opportunities—it's about identifying talent, their skills, and their openness to taking on new roles. Interestingly, while people are switching jobs now, we're hearing that upward of 80 percent of those people want growth and new opportunities.”

Field praises the democratic processes of these labor marketplaces, suggesting that their transparency can decrease bias in the workplace, a problem some businesses try to address by using resume checking software.

Watching the rise of Runner will be necessary for all gig workers and freelancers, and their success might impact the practices of their competitors. With W-2s on the table, freelancing could become a lot more stable.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.