OnDiem wants temporary staffing solutions to be as easy as ordering an Uber while offering workers a chance to live a gig economy lifestyle.

By Steven Martinez

Most millennials will tell you, the days of working at one place for a whole career and living through retirement with a pension are long gone. In its place is an employment outlook of short stints and side gigs as they try to maximize earning potential in an ever-shifting economic landscape.

For better or worse, we live in a gig economy and whether it’s hailing an Uber ride from the airport, ordering takeout through Grubhub, or streaming your favorite video game on Twitch, on demand is the name of the game.

Temp workers are nothing new, but in the healthcare industry, a short-term hire can be difficult. Government regulations can prevent clinicians from hiring someone for a few days on a 1099. What’s more, the process for bringing in a temp employee can be complicated for a private practice without a dedicated human resources department. All of which can put doctors in a bind. What if a valued staff member is out on medical leave? What if current staff is overstretched but it doesn’t make financial sense to hire someone new?

But what if there was a way for practice owners to plug staff gaps with the same ease as booking an Airbnb? Well, that’s what Joe Fogg, chief executive officer of OnDiem, thinks his platform can offer dental professionals.

OnDiem is an on-demand staffing platform that connects practices to available qualified workers, from clinical assistants to office staff. The company offers a marketplace of temporary staff in locations across the country so that when practices need someone quickly, they are never more than a job posting away from filling a gap.

“OnDiem stands for three things: on demand, per diem, and carpe diem,” says Fogg. “Everything’s on demand in this day and age between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Uber, etc, and in the healthcare industry when you work a temporary shift it’s called a per diem. Lastly, this generation right now is more about life balance than the American dream of buying a house, so they’re more of a carpe diem mindset.”

Underpinning its platform is a kind of workaround for the difficulties that practices have in hiring temp workers. Temp staff in the OnDiem marketplace are treated as employees of OnDiem, meaning that rather than practices needing to file necessary paperwork to bring someone on, OnDiem has already onboarded them and handles the necessary payroll paperwork. That’s why Fogg is quick to point out that he doesn’t see OnDiem as a staffing company, but rather like an outsourced fintech HR department for temporary workers.

This workaround is also what allows OnDiem to be truly on demand. For practices, when they post a temporary job on the platform, OnDiem will automatically calculate those extra fees based on the state rules in their area.

“We handle everything from the payroll to the taxes,” says Fogg. “They can do one of two things now. They can just continually schedule that person over and over through OnDiem to let them work in the office. Or they can also say, ‘Hey Brittany, you’re great. Our team likes you. You’re strong clinically. We’d love to hire you to be a permanent employee.’”

If a practice decides that they like a temp clinical assistant they have scheduled multiple times, then OnDiem will allow them to hire that person permanently without any fees, if that practice is on a premium tier account. On the standard tier, the temp-to-hire fee is $1,000. The premium tier also affords practices other benefits, like lower service fees (20% vs 40%), 30-day invoicing, and four free permanent job postings a month. Temporary job postings are included in either tier.

In addition to automatically calculating fees when a practice posts a temp job, the platform will also show them what the average hourly rate is in their area for the position they’re hiring. Ultimately, the practice will choose what the pay rate is, but if the position needs to be urgently filled, the average can help them make the offer more attractive.

In a sense, this isn’t too terribly different from grabbing an Uber or Lyft. You set the terms and the platform connects you with someone in your area. Where it differs, importantly, is that no matter how many OnDiem temp workers want the gig, ultimately the practice makes the final decision. The platform lists out each applicant’s work history and qualifications, allowing practices to pick the right person for the task.

With this interplay between temp jobs and the temp-to-permanent hire pipeline, Fogg says that his platform can also be used as a kind of working interview for prospective hires. Bring in someone for a temporary job and see how they work and how well they fit in with the office culture. If it doesn’t work out, there’s no obligation to bring them back; and if it does work out, you’ve just done your due diligence on a new hire. It takes the guesswork out of the traditional application process and removes some of the pain of hiring someone who isn’t right.

On the worker’s side, it can also be a nice tool to find a permanent place to work. In an interview, everyone, not just the interviewee, is often on their best behavior. It isn’t until you’ve been behind the curtain that you really start to see what a workplace is like.

“It’s kind of like a dating app, right? Most people on dating apps are looking to get married, for the most part,” says Fogg. “So, they’re using it as a way to find their forever home.”

Some temps on the OnDiem platform, however, may prefer the gig lifestyle to something more permanent. The carpe diem contingent may like the flexibility of planning their own schedules or prefer the better hourly pay they’re likely to command on demand compared to their permanent compatriots. Some people working through OnDiem may have left the industry during the pandemic only to find that they just like being a gig worker.

As of September 15, OnDiem will begin offering a health insurance plan for its gig workers. If they work for as few as 6 days a month on average, they can qualify for a plan that OnDiem will even contribute towards. The option is meant to provide further support for those workers who want to remain a temp but still want the security of health insurance.

Fogg also says the health insurance provides an incentive for temp workers to stay committed to the platform and their assignments. If they miss work and no show, they can be kicked off the platform and lose their healthcare benefits. According to Fogg, OnDiem is the first gig economy platform in the country to offer healthcare benefits for the workers on its platform , something that he believes is a gamechanger for the space.

“It took me two and a half years working with all the big insurance providers like Humana, United, and Blue Cross,” says Fogg. “I finally got a national major medical health care plan for only $560 a month for a clinician and we’re launching on September 15. So now they can truly have that freedom and flexibility that they’re looking for.”

Temporary or temp-to-permanent, OnDiem’s biggest selling point might be its flexibility. The platform even offers a way, known as SafePay, for practices to find somebody who isn’t on the platform but still use OnDiem as an onboarding tool to stay compliant. There is still a fee for onboarding, 15% to 20% depending on the tier, but it provides an assurance that everything is by the book.

“We’re helping practices build bigger teams,” says Fogg. “We’re helping them build a contingent labor pool with more people that want to work in their offices so they can treat more patients who have more access to care.”