AUSTIN, Texas — According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January alone, 4.3 million people quit their jobs.
The Great Resignation was coined as the pandemic-era decision for millions of workers to leave their jobs. The retail industry has felt the impact, leaving store leaders to find creative ways to get staff in the doors and keep them.
A number of retail associates in Austin have discovered a way to work when and where they want on demand.
As a working mom, having a flexible schedule is important to Mary Monds.
"I have a 1-year-old and I'd love to still be in the workforce,” Monds said.
Although Monds has always enjoyed working retail, the pandemic accelerated her desire for change.
"Retail is very demanding because you feel like you can't say ‘no’ when they expect you to work a certain shift,” Monds said.
Monds has been using an Austin-based platform called Reflex to connect with retailers and find work on demand.
"I can pick up shifts when I'm available and I don't feel that pressure,” Monds said.
One of the stores Monds works at is Faherty. Jeremy Impellizeri is the store leader. He used to spend countless hours each week recruiting.
"All these flexible on-demand jobs like, you know — Uber, Instacart, like all these — Reflex is one of them. People are obsessed with these ideas because you can do it at your leisure,” Impellizeri said.
Mike Meyers and Carson Jones are the co-founders of Reflex. Meyers says the retail industry is evolving.
"When you look at what's happened, especially through the pandemic, there's talk that people don't want to work in retail. And there's no labor shortage, but really what there is, is people don't want to work in retail the way they always have,” Meyers said.
Monds hopes this leads to industry-wide change.
"It's totally up to me. There's no expectations. I can pick [shifts] up based on what I want,” Monds said.
Meyers says they are working on expanding Reflex outside of Austin.
"We’re live with about 18 retailers [in Austin] and that number is increasing every day and week,” Meyers said. “We are going to be launching Dallas later this year, so we're going to be coming out with an announcement over the next couple of months on that exact date, and then Houston will be launched shortly after Dallas. So the next 12 months we're focusing on Texas and taking a Texas first approach.”