5 Time-Tested Steps for Hiring and Keeping Hourly Workers

August 9, 2018
More than 59% of the US workforce, or 78 million Americans are now paid on an hourly basis, but unfortunately, close to three million American workers left their jobs voluntarily since June 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the cost of losing an hourly employee is an average of $4,969. This costly turnover hurts business in terms of loss productivity and often times, low morale.

The solution is to create an environment where employees can feel they are an important part of something larger than themselves, where they can become engaged in their work. Engaged employees are happy, content, and productive employees. Striving for full employee engagement is a mighty task, but well worth the efforts. These five steps can help you to not only keep good hourly employees, but to attract more when needed.
Managers who focus on the strengths of the employee, rather than weaknesses, have a stronger chance of keeping employees engaged
1. Lead With a Heart

One of the main reasons cited as to why hourly employees leave a company is because of their manager or supervisor. To counter this, ensure that all managers and supervisors are trained in the simple concept of treating others with respect. Managers and supervisors are the starting point for keeping good employees and reducing turnover. A Gallup study defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, committed, and enthusiastic about their work. The same study uncovers that managers are responsible for 70% of variance in the engagement and that the best managers make an effort to get to know the employees to improve engagement.

Engaged employees are those who are respected by their managers and have managers who respond to their questions and concerns in a timely manner. Companies that rely on hourly employees should train managers to lead with a heart. That means the supervisor should treat employees as fellow human beings, showing empathy where needed as well as direction and guidance. Managers who focus on the strengths of the employee, rather than weaknesses, have a stronger chance of keeping employees engaged, according to 67% of employees surveyed in Gallup study.

Considered by some as the "soft" side of managing, leading with a heart is not a difficult thing to teach. In the world of HR, it is known as Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is simply a fancy term for finding the good in others and focusing on those traits. If an employee likes their manager, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and perform at a higher level than those not engaged. Developing managers to lead with heart is worth the effort and is foundational to keeping good hourly employees.

2. Be Creative With Benefits

There is a limit to what an employer can provide in way of benefits to attract hourly employees. However, with a little creativity, some benefits may not take away much at all from the businesses' bottom line. For example, allowing employees to cross over to other job functions to learn a new skill, work with others in a different department, and to simply break up the day-to-day routine, can go a long way toward increasing engagement. Also, offering opportunities for employees to work on the weekend or different shifts, either for regular pay or overtime, provides some variety in the work and offers insight into the functions of the business.

Other benefits can include allowing employees to paint their own parking space, buying small tokens of appreciation like gift cards to a favorite restaurant, car detailing, books, sporting events, concerts, or massages. The point is that even though not expensive, creative benefits show that the company appreciates the employee and took the time to think of them and their value to the organization.

3. Provide Flexible Schedule

It's not just Millennials who appreciate flexibility in their work schedule, but they do make up the majority of hourly workers. Some hourly workers like to know that they work the same hours on the same days so they can plan their lives accordingly. Others may need time off for school, family needs, appointments, etc. By offering flexibility in scheduling, employers stand a better chance at keeping the good employees from leaving. While not always an option, employers that can flex to the needs of the employee, may be able to keep that employee. Using scheduling apps to help organize shifts for employees such as When I Work, Branch Messenger, or 7Shifts, just to name a few, give advance notice for employees so they can plan their work lives accordingly.

4. Point Out the Road Ahead

It's obvious that many hourly workers use the job as a starting point for future endeavors. When interviewing candidates, you should show them a path they can follow to help them reach their goals. Even if they don't decide to stay very long in the same company or industry, they will remember the guidance they were given. Offer to pay for seminars or courses that will develop their skills for positions they desire.
Seek the input of hourly employees, not just so they feel included, but because they have insight and ideas that management may not have considered
5. Solicit Input

Finally, seek the input of hourly employees, not just so they feel included, (though that is a plus), but because they have insight and ideas that management may not have considered. They are typically on the front lines and see and hear things that others may not. Do more than install a suggestion box. Meet face to face and ask for their input on the business as they see it. This is also a great way to begin an interview when hiring.

Keeping the Good Ones

Because you work hard to bring in, screen, interview, hire and onboard good employees, you don't want to see them leave after about two years, which is the average according to Qualtrics.

To keep them, apply the five steps above and watch the retention rate increase. Even if you only adopt the step of training your managers and supervisors to lead with a heart, you will be well ahead of many other businesses, including your competition.

Developing a strategy to keep the good employees sends a message to others that the company is a good place to work. This will in turn not only help you reduce turnover, but create a potential pool of candidates wanting to work at your company.
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