The summer after my mother died in 1998, following my sophomore year of high school, I got my first job, It was through a county youth employment program, and I was assigned to work at my hometown DMV in the back doing clerical work and stocking the backroom shelves with drivers’ handbook in a myriad of languages. My next job, during my senior year, was at a local, long since closed, discount movie theater as a ticket-taker and usher. (Fun fact: People get really sick at the movies.)
Most of my fellow disabled friends during that time worked entry-level, shift worker jobs. Grocery stores and theaters and fast food restaurants. Fast-forward almost 25 years since leaving high school, and most of the disability community gains only entry-level jobs. Although Silicon Valley has a slew of disabled people working in high-salaried positions at Apple, Google, and elsewhere, the truth is they are the exception to the rule. The norm for the majority of people with disabilities is, if they can get employment at all, is to work entry-level, hourly, shift-type jobs.
Silvija Martincevic and her team at Deputy care about shift workers.
On its website, Deputy builds software designed for shift workers and their needs. The company’s tools helps manage scheduling. Deputy boasts its product is used by over 340,000 workplaces in more than 100 countries. Moreover, Deputy has been used by 1.4 million workers with over 500 million shifts scheduled. As evidenced by their tagline, Deputy believes strongly in the ethos that happy staff begets happy managers.
In an interview with me this week ahead of Shift Worker Sunday on November 26, Martincevic, who became Deputy’s chief executive in February, told me via email that her company is “on a mission to improve the world of hourly work for businesses and workers alike.” She described Deputy’s technologies as “[elevating] workplace engagement, happiness, and productivity for workers while helping businesses effectively engage and retain employees and ensuring labor law compliance within their workforce.” Supporting shift workers—as many disabled people are—with technology is what drove Martincevic to join Deputy’s ranks. It’s also a personal endeavor for her; she told me she was “raised by a family of shift workers” and is passionate about leveraging technology to positively impact the lives of marginalized communities.
“Deputy has the right technology, team, and culture to make a significant imprint on the future of work and a massive impact on the lives of the world’s 2.7 billion shift workers,” Martincevic said of Deputy’s potential to positively imprint society. “Shift workers are the unsung heroes fueling our daily lives with coffee, deliveries, care, and smiles. They keep our world running. Sadly, 1 in 2 shift workers feels undervalued for their work. That’s why Shift Worker Sunday is so important—[it’s] a Deputy-founded global holiday on the last Sunday of November dedicated to honoring and supporting their invaluable contributions.”
Martincevic explained Deputy’s technology is purposely built for shift workers, saying the company is passionate about “bringing the hourly workforce to the digital age [and improving] the work experience for shift workers and the businesses that employ them.” Despite shift workers making up an overwhelming portion, at 80%, of the global workforce, they haven’t seen much invested in upgrading technology compared to what office workers are given, Martincevic said.
Deputy has resolved to spark change in this regard.
“Our vision to create thriving workplaces in every community is the guiding force behind our journey at Deputy. We are using technology to make shift workers’ jobs better and more efficient,” Martincevic said. “Office workers have benefitted from productivity and engagement software in almost every aspect of their work lives—but the same isn’t true for the hourly workforce. Chances are that if you are a retail worker, a barista, or a nurse, your workplace is still very much in the 1980s in regards to workplace technology. Over the last 15 years, our focus has been to create mobile technology built for shift workers to elevate workplace engagement, happiness, and productivity. We also help businesses stay compliant with all labor regulations.”
When asked about feedback on Deputy, Martincevic told me the company stands out in its field for its “customer obsession and commitment to positively impacting society.” She pointed to a recent conversation with a shift worker named Ana, who reported how Deputy’s software has become her so-called “source of truth” which significantly improves her life at work. Another customer, Martincevic said, raved about the effects Deputy has had on their life in terms of better work-life balance, as the person used Deputy to comply with Fair Workweek laws with her employer. With clearer schedules, Martincevic said, their workers experienced reduced stress and were able to plan their lives easier. Martincevic also cited the high user ratings for Deputy’s app, available since 2012, in the App Store and Google’s Play Store.
“These stories provide a glimpse into the regular feedback we receive from customers,” Martincevic said of the value of garnering feedback. “Whether it’s a business relying on us for workforce management or the shift workers we serve, their feedback constantly reminds us of our why—our commitment to improving the work experience for shift workers and the businesses that employ them.”
Looking towards the future, Martincevic said she’s eager for a future in which the current “digital gap” facing shift workers no longer exists. In the meantime, Deputy remains steadfastly committed to providing tools such as Shift Pulse, which Martincevic described as a feature designed to help businesses “easily gather employee feedback at the end of each shift.” Such feedback is valuable, she added, because it “lets managers make changes to improve their team’s performance, [as well as helping] us enhance our services to better meet their needs.”
“If we can change the way people work, we can change their lives,” Martincevic said. “That’s my dream: that Deputy builds a global platform that helps shift workers be more productive at work and feel more connected and valued for what they do.”