More Than Money: 3 Ways to Retain the Modern Hourly Worker
The rise of the gig economy and recruitment platforms is changing the way businesses recruit and retain talent. Because of that, it's becoming increasingly easier to find qualified candidates, hire individuals, and fill shifts.
But this on-demand economy doesn't mean that your employees are content to stay at jobs where they're seemingly satisfied, or that businesses are best served by treating hourly workers as replaceable resources. Rather, as an industry, we must be looking to improve the employee experience, create a better workplace, and keep these qualified individuals on the job.
In our 2019 State of the Hourly Worker Report, we found that modern hourly workers are no longer motivated solely by money or the lifestyle promised by hourly work. Instead, they are overwhelmingly seeking opportunities that promote flexibility, workplace relationships, and career benefits similar to those of full-time employees. These workers greatly vary by generation and the industries they're employed in, but they're all looking for an improved experience and the jobs that will give them one.
With this in mind, here are three ways hiring managers and on-the-job leaders can adapt to these new expectations, drive retention, and heighten the employee experience overall.
Create a great culture
Culture can no longer be dismissed as a buzzword for businesses relying on hourly work. In fact, more than half of surveyed workers listed relationships with peers as having the greatest influence over their work satisfaction. Further, 37 percent of surveyed workers found their current job through a referral or personal recruitment from someone who already worked there. The takeaway is clear: business leaders have to meaningfully invest in and understand the processes that drive great culture.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to do this. If you haven't already, start by setting up daily meetings to start the day. This helps keep all employees in the loop, up to date on the latest developments, and most importantly, feel as if they are part of a larger team. Connections among staff are imperative, and you can further develop this sense of camaraderie by taking the time to set up team-building activities or special outings outside of work hours.
Listen to employees
Beyond the benefits promised by steady shift-based work, employees want input into the development of their careers and workplaces. Some are motivated primarily by paychecks, but others desire more responsibilities and recognition. In each of these cases, you must be willing to ask and understand what your employees are saying.
Communication issues were consistently cited as being major problems for hourly employees, and by extension, a driver of turnover. Almost one in four (23 percent) of surveyed workers report quitting as a result of not receiving the shift or schedule they wanted, while only 39 percent of satisfied surveyed workers say their supervisor takes employees' best interests into account when making decisions.
Start by scheduling time to speak with each employee individually and brainstorming larger initiatives and incentives with your workers as a group. These don't have to be overly time-intensive discussions, but they will go a long way toward ensuring your employees feel heard.
Promote from within
Some of the most well-known and successful brands are staunch supporters of promoting internally. If you've eaten at Chipotle recently, it's highly likely the location was managed by an employee who once worked on the burrito line alongside their teammates. By training and promoting internally, you can ensure that these individuals mesh well with their co-workers, possess the necessary skills to succeed, and understand the intricacies of your business.
You can meaningfully avoid turnover by training front-line managers and creating an environment where it's clear that advancement is possible--and, more importantly, achievable. In doing so, employees know that their hard work is building toward something and that they have the opportunity to earn greater responsibility and higher pay.
For organizations light on resources and time to train upper-level staff, don't be afraid to seek outside help. There are resources and training programs readily available to advance employees' leadership and communication skills. Investing in several days of training is well worth the short-term cost.
While it might be comfortable to continue with the status quo, it's clear that now is the time to evaluate your practices for hiring, managing, and retaining valuable employees. The needs of these hourly workers are vastly different from 5 years ago and evolving every day. Savvy employers can help themselves in the short and long term by working to understand their workers and offering the benefits they want to keep them happy and on the job.
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