How to Create Career Progression for Hourly Workers

November 12, 2018
Hourly workers are often the backbone of an organization, the frontline troops that hold the spectre of bankruptcy at bay. However, while these positions are immensely important for a company's ability to grow and offer competitively priced products, they can hardly be considered coveted positions.

With some recent controversy over how a global giant like Amazon compensates its hourly workers, it's important to look at what truly motivates these workers. Going with a minimum wage raise while sacrificing all other benefits like Amazon did may not be the best idea, especially for a smaller company with a more limited worker pull to draw from.

The chance to grow as a professional and advance within the company are far better ways to get people excited about their job than throwing a few extra bucks their way. With this in mind, let's go over some effective ways to build a sturdy corporate ladder for your hourly workers to climb over time.
Make sure that there's at least a clear "next step" for anyone who starts out as an hourly worker on one of the entry-level positions.
Enforce a healthy and positive corporate culture

The latest statistics show that millennial workers will go through an average of 7 different jobs before they turn 30. We're talking about serious jobs with benefits and all, so expect hourly workers to be even more prone to job hopping. This is why the first thing you need to do is create a positive atmosphere even in the entry-level jobs.

Engage your hourly workers and make them feel like they're a part of a community, even just a small part. This way they'll stay long enough to start exploring different avenues of building a career with your company.

Show people the next steps

People often won't try to shoot for something bigger if they don't have a clear target in their sights. Make sure that there's at least a clear "next step" for anyone who starts out as an hourly worker on one of the entry-level positions.

A teenager mopping the floors and washing the dishes will want to do a good job of it if they can see themselves helping prepare meals or working the cash register in 4-5 months, then perhaps managing a shift in another 6-8 months.

This is a general example, but there's lots of room to experiment and make the model fit your business.
Always keep throwing in tempting incentives for people to give it their all and put in a bit of extra effort.
Allow for on-the-job training and mentoring

Alright, let's say that your new hourly worker has been there for about 6 months and has moved up to a better paid and more responsible position. They're still an hourly worker, but they're beginning to take on more responsibility within the business.

At this point, you should have the more experienced workers show the newcomer around and help them get settled into their new position. This should be a part of the corporate culture and you should promote this helpful spirit.

You can also have a designated mentor, a more seasoned employee with a couple of years under their belt, who would get paid a bit extra for offering some training and coaching to the younger employees. There's all kinds of mentors that can guide an inexperienced employee, you just need to make sure that there's always someone there to offer a helping hand.

Offer paid training courses and specialization to loyal employees

If someone's been working for your company for a couple of years, chances are that they know the ins and outs of your operation. However, while they might have tons of practical knowledge and good soft skills, they will usually lack the more in-depth knowledge needed for higher salaried positions.

You want to allow employees who've shown dedication and an eagerness to improve and take on more difficult tasks a chance to learn and develop. Give an ambitious hourly worker an opportunity to train and try to advance.

You can always demote someone if things don't work out, but you'll be surprised at just how driven and hard-working some of your loyal workers can be.

Give people good incentives to stick around and work hard

Simply climbing up the corporate ladder to a salaried position isn't what most people consider the end goal for their career. Always keep throwing in tempting incentives for people to give it their all and put in a bit of extra effort.

From small cash bonuses and gifts to a few extra days of paid leave or a little corporate vacation time, all these things can really help keep your employees happy and show hourly workers that there's always more to strive for.

The basic rules for keeping your hourly workers happy are treating them with respect, helping them improve, rewarding their hard work, and giving them something better and more exciting to shoot for. Once you're able to put all these strategies into practice, you'll have a bunch of highly-motivated workers and brand ambassadors and a whole lot more people lining up to work for you.
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