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The founder of Legion aims to close the gap between what employers and workers need

While on a long trip to the US many years ago, Sanish Mondkar realized that there were stark, problematic disconnects between employers and the staff they employ.

To critics of late capitalism, that might sound like an obvious observation. But Mondkar, who earned a master’s degree in computer science from Cornell, says seeing the problems up close made a big difference.

«Traveling from city to city, I couldn’t help but notice the perpetual ‘for hire’ signs plastered in the windows of countless labor-intensive businesses such as retail and restaurants,» he said. “At the same time, I’ve seen employees change jobs frequently but struggle to earn a living wage. This disparity between the needs of employers and the reality of workers struck a chord with me.»

Inspired by this experience, as well as his work at Ariba as executive vice president and chief product officer at SAP, Mondkar set out to build a startup that helps companies manage their workforce—especially contract and gig workforces. His venture, legiontoday announced that it has raised $50 million in funding led by Riverwood Capital, with participation from Norwest, Stripes, Webb Investment Network and XYZ.

«My goal was to rebuild the workforce management enterprise category to maximize operational efficiency for businesses while delivering value to workers,» said Mondkar. «I wanted to differentiate the company itself with a focus on WFM’s intelligent automation and employee value proposition.»

Legion is designed to support clients—employers such as Cinemark, Dollar General, Five Below and Panda Express—in managing their hourly workforce by automating certain decisions, such as how much labor to allocate where and when to allocate workers. Taking into account demand forecasting, work optimization and employee preferences, Legion’s platform generates work schedules.

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Employees whose businesses are on Legion can use its mobile app to request how they want to work and set their preferred hours. Legion’s algorithm then tries to match worker preferences with business needs.

Legion also includes performance management tools and a rewards program of sorts. Image credits: legion

«We use algorithms trained on a mix of user data and third-party data, which Legion collects from its partners,» Mondkar said. «This integration enables predictions for planning and resource allocation.»

In addition to basic scheduling features, Legion — very on trend — leans into generative artificial intelligence with a tool called Copilot (not to be confused with Microsoft copilot). Copilot answers job questions based on the organization’s employee handbook, work standards, and training content. In the coming months, Copilot will gain the ability to compress work schedules and accommodate requests to add or delete shifts or change staff assignments.

«To attract and retain staff, hourly companies need to emulate gig-like flexibility,» Mondkar said. “Legion ensures this through intelligent deployment automation. Managers can match staffing to forecasted demand, reducing the gap between employee needs and business needs.”

That’s all well and good, but two things that concern me about Legion stand out: its privacy policy and its Earned Wage Access (EWA) program.

Legion says it stores customer data for seven years by default — a long time by any measure. More worryingly, the data includes personal information such as workers’ first and last names, email and home addresses, ages, photographs and job titles. big yuck.

Legion says the data is necessary to «facilitate scheduling in compliance with labor regulations,» and that users can request that their data be deleted at any time. But I question the ease of the deletion process — and how transparent Legion is with its users about its data retention policies.

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My other gripe with Legion is InstantPay, Legion’s EWA program, which allows employees to access a portion of their earned pay before scheduled paydays. Legion charges workers $2.99 ​​for instant transfers of earned wages, while next-day transfers are free – that might not sound like much, but can be added up for low-income workers. Legion bills it as a benefit for hourly workers that gives them «greater flexibility» and «control» over their finances, as well as a business retention tool. But EWA programs are under scrutiny from policymakers, consumer advocates and employers.

Some consumer groups argue that EWA programs should be classified as loans under the U.S. Truth in Lending Act, which provides protections such as requiring lenders to provide advance notice before certain fee increases. Those groups say EWA programs can force users to overdraft while effectively charging interest through fees.

Image credits: legion

In addition, it is not clear whether EWA programs are a net gain for employers. Walmart recently tried to combat impoverishment by giving hourly workers early access to pay. Instead, it was found that employees using EWA tend to give up faster.

My issues with Legion aside, the company appears to be growing strongly despite competition from the likes of Ceridian’s Dayforce, Quinyx and UKG, with revenue and bookings up 55% and 125% respectively in the past year. That’s even more impressive considering that HR tech startup funding fell to a three-year low last year — $3.3 billion, down from $10.5 billion in 2021 — after a flurry of interest from VCs.

Legion, which makes money by charging subscription fees calculated based on the number of hourly workers the company employs, plans to use its recently raised capital to grow its 200-employee workforce with a focus on expanding its R&D and customer-facing teams and launching a go-to-market effort in Europe.

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To date, Legion has raised $145 million.

«Legion will use our funding to drive continued innovation in workforce management, including major investments in research and development,» Mondkar said. “Legion has been relatively insulated from the broader technological slowdown, thanks to our focus on labor-intensive industries. This strategic alignment positions us well to effectively manage any potential economic headwinds.”

#founder #Legion #aims #close #gap #employers #workers

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