02 Sep 2019

Meet the Founder: Earwig

By Will Spurr

Earwig is a construction sites reviews platform empowering temporary workers to never take a bad job again.

‘Say yes and work out how later’ is a widespread motto for employment agencies. So says Harrison Moore, founder and CEO of Earwig. But this culture of over-promising has a human cost, one that Harrison knows first-hand. Whilst working as an electrician, he saw countless examples of unfair practices. Moreover, temporary workers are often powerless to change these circumstances. For example, agencies often offer the same role to more than one person. When they all arrive on the day, they discover that the job requires – and will only pay – one person. Dishonesty is rife in information about job duration, pay, and requirements. This all adds to the anxieties faced by temporary workers, who heavily rely on these jobs. When you factor in bills, dependents, rent and time wasted; workers cannot afford such miscommunications. Unfair worksite practices take their toll on the mental health of construction workers. But, it does not have to be this way.

 

The Earwig Review System

Earwig’s easy-to-use interface

After a particularly bad job, Harrison began to build a plan to diffuse the injustices of agency work. He identified four key anxieties facing temporary workers. First, will the right amount of pay arrive at the right time? Is the job what they expected? Is the site safe and well-equipped? And are the supervisors respectful, diligent, and professional? Transparency, according to Harrison, is necessary to overcome these sticking points. To provide this, he created Earwig, a worker-led intelligence platform. The platform allows clear and effective reporting on these pain points. Prospective employees can access these workplace reviews and leave their own. This allows them to make better decisions about future jobs. It also provides a channel to report good and bad practices.

 The ‘four anxieties’ with temporary construction contracts:

  1. Agency
  2. Worksite
  3. Management
  4. Payroll

Creating a soapbox from which to voice praise and criticism is a good first step, but will employers listen? Earwig’s early traction suggests that they’ll do more than listen, they’ll pay. Worker dissatisfaction leads to worker disengagement and high worker churn. This comes at a great cost to construction firms, who are eager to access direct employee insights to see how and where they can improve. Knowing that their voices are being heard is a huge incentive for workers to join the platform. These two forces can instigate a positive feedback cycle in construction workplace culture. With 250,000 temporary workers employed by 35,000 agencies, the potential scale is huge. Earwig can reward good practices, highlight unfairness, re-organise the workplace, and give workers the tools to avoid ever taking up bad jobs again.

 

Catch Harrison’s story, further details about Earwig, and a broader discussion about the potential of WorkerTech in the podcast below.