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How to attract, motivate and retain hourly employees

By Higginbotham on February 02 , 2021

Hourly employees

Hourly employees can often be overlooked when it comes to managing job satisfaction, encouraging job advancement and increasing employee retention rates. However, hourly employees make up a majority of our workforce today, so it's important to take steps within your company to ensure they are happy and healthy in their jobs – not only for their well-being, but for the success of the company.

Statistics on the Hourly Workforce

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2018, there were nearly 82 million hourly workers in the United States, representing nearly 60 percent of the total workforce. Of those, according to a study by Shiftboard, an employee scheduling software company, they are split evenly between male and female. While the majority of hourly workers are Generation X (born between 1981-1996), one in five is over 55 years of age, reflecting an overall trend of working hourly jobs later in life. Finally, while 36 percent of hourly employees have graduated from two- or four-year colleges, over a quarter of hourly workers have an advanced degree.

Why Focus on Hourly Employees?

Many employers make the mistake of focusing mainly on their salaried employees. But with hourly workers comprising such a large percentage of your employee population, employers can’t afford to overlook them. An employer who puts as much effort into an hourly employee as they do a salaried worker will derive benefits in the ways of improved employee performance, higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rate and a better ability to attract good talent.

It's also important to note that in 2020, COVID-19 affected hourly employees more than salaried employees. An employer’s attention to things such as PPE for their workforce, COVID-19 security precautions for workers and overall protection of their employees will go a long way with hourly staff. They will gain a newfound respect for their employer, as the employer is allowing them to keep their jobs and makes the safety and well-being of their employees a priority. This will lead to those employees trusting that employer and ultimately staying there.

Ways to Motivate and Engage Your Hourly Employees

There are a number of motivators in the workplace for employees, and it's important for organizations to find solutions to help ensure higher employee retention and less turnover – especially among hourly employees.

Compensate Them Fairly

There are a number of ways to ensure your hourly employees are being compensated fairly in the workplace. First, ensure the salary reflects the cost of living data in your area. Check out the average base pay for similar positions in similar companies. Research from a 2017 Harvard Business Review study found that just a 10 percent increase in base salary equates to a 1.5 percent increase in the likelihood that a worker will stay with the current employer – a metric that becomes more significant the larger your organization is. If you factor that one percent improvement in the odds of an employee staying at a company of 10,000 people, that turns into employee retention in the hundreds per year.

Offer Flexibility

Just like salaried employees, hourly employees need work life balance. Of those surveyed by Shiftboard, 87 percent said it’s extremely important to have control over their work schedule, with 49 percent willing to take a pay cut to have that flexibility.

A flexible workplace is becoming more and more common, especially with the world turning to a more remote workforce. Companies are realizing that tasks can be accomplished – and at times better accomplished – when they let go of the stringent Monday–Friday, 9-5 workweek and offer options such as a shorter workweek with longer days, flexible hours, job sharing and others. Consider surveying your employees to determine what might work on both sides for your company.

Look Into Good Benefits

Another area important to hourly employees is benefits. In fact, like work flexibility, more than half of hourly employees surveyed said they would take a pay cut in order to gain health benefits. Other benefits such as paid vacation and sick time, pension plans, life insurance and education reimbursement should also be considered by your organization. It may take more work on the part of your human resources team, but it will be worth it in the long run to attract and retain the best talent for your organization.

Offer Office “Perks”

If you ask some employees what they like about their company, you might be surprised to find that the smallest of office perks come into conversation. Free coffee and snacks, fresh fruit once a week, a discount on tickets to local events or happy hours outside of work can all factor into more pleasant and desirable work environments. While it doesn't replace some of the other improvements you can make, it can add to engaging your hourly workers.

Look at Your Workplace Culture

What is your company culture? Are you known for treating your employees well and having a good work life balance? A good company culture goes beyond fun perks, though those can be attractive. Do you trust your employees? This comes into play as workplaces become more flexible. Do you regularly promote from within? An employee who sees advancement within the company may be more likely to seek a career with you. What are workplace relationships like? Do employees seem friendly with one another and genuinely glad to be there? Do you provide annual performance reviews and offer viable incentives? What about development opportunities? These are all factors that play into a company's culture and an employee's workplace experience, and they will go a long way in attracting long-term talent.

Help Them with Career Planning

Don’t lose good employees because they feel stuck or pigeonholed in their job. Employers should consider offering career development opportunities and work with hourly employees to discover their job and career goals. As mentioned above, consider providing continuing education benefits or offer paid on-site or off-site training. You could also consider a mentoring program, in which hourly employees are matched with either higher-level hourly or salaried employees. These mentoring programs not only help employees grow in their positions and careers, but help them feel more attached to and a part of the company.

Involve Them in Planning and Decision-Making

No matter what level or pay structure your employees are at, it’s important that employers make them feel part of the company. Engaging hourly employees in sharing ideas, attending creative or decision-making meetings and soliciting feedback all go a long way toward integrating them as part of the team. Make sure your hourly employees are receiving communications like all-employee announcements, invitations to work functions and any team-building activities. Engagement efforts such as these will go a long way toward a more rewarding employee experience.

Acknowledge and Recognize Them

Many hourly employees may often be more behind-the-scenes, but they’re integral to the success of the company. It’s imperative that they don’t feel like cogs in a wheel and that they know what they’re doing matters. This may fall on managers of the hourly team to identify and recognize the accomplishments of their employees and ensure they get reported up the chain. Company leaders also need to remember that they are only able to do their jobs as well as the employees who report to them. Employees who feel seen and heard are more likely to work harder for their employers and experience better job satisfaction.

Have an Open Door Policy

Workplace stress plays a huge factor in employee burnout and turnover. If employees feel they can't talk to their manager when their job becomes overwhelming, they're more likely to look for employment elsewhere. Let your hourly employees know that they can connect with their manager or human resources personnel if they feel overloaded or have other factors that may be affecting their work performance. On the flip side, let them know you welcome their suggestions and ideas and that they are an integral part of the team.

Work Toward Inclusion and Diversity

Employees should feel comfortable in their work environment. According to TalentLyft, companies with a more diverse and inclusive employee population enjoyed benefits such as increased creativity and profits, more variety of different perspectives, higher innovation, better decision-making, improved hiring results, higher employee engagement and reduced employee turnover.

Ask Them What They Want

It's simple, yet effective. By asking hourly employees what they want, you find out what’s important to them. What motivates them? What makes them happy? Would they prefer a small bump in pay or a bonus once a year? How much would they be willing to cost-share for benefits? What would their preferred work schedule be like? Are they juggling childcare, caring for a loved one or perhaps an additional job that might be helped with some flexibility of hours or days worked? Employees who feel valued are more likely to stick around and work harder for your organization.

Always be Looking

Many employers only seek out potential employees when there are positions open. With an overwhelming number of people looking for jobs, businesses can benefit from creating a pool of candidates to draw from when the jobs arise. Utilize job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, employee referrals and your company website careers page to gather resumes to keep on file so you can reach new workers when you need them.

Hourly employees can be key to a successful organization. Taking care of your hourly workforce will go a long way toward employee satisfaction and retention. Contact our HR Services for more information.

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