For many employers, attracting and retaining hourly workers seems like a puzzle with no solution. Employers often feel like the struggle to hire never stops. And even when people are hired, they’re often on the job barely long enough to be properly trained before they leave for what they think will be greener pastures somewhere else.
No magic bullet exists to solve the problem, but there are things you can do to help.
How to Attract Workers
With “Help Wanted” signs seemingly everywhere, employers have a tough time standing out as a good place for hourly workers. Consulting giant Mercer passed along some tips for employers in an October blog post. A key piece of advice: Start with pay.
Mercer points out that pay is a major issue for hourly workers, and they can be lured away by as little as $1 more an hour.
“Getting pay right is fundamental,” the post says. “There is very little you can do to keep any category of employee without paying them what they deserve.”
To get pay right, Mercer says employers must find a reliable source of hourly pay data to help them understand the local labor market.
Pay may top the list of concerns for workers, but Mercer advises also looking at benefits, flexibility, and ways to listen to employees.
On benefits, Mercer suggests employers consider offering tuition assistance, student loan assistance, career development opportunities, paid time off, referral bonuses, and performance bonuses.
Offering flexibility can take many forms. For example, Mercer suggests letting employees pick their shifts, making it easy for workers to trade or split shifts, and offering flexible start and stop times.
As for listening, Mercer says just listening to employee feedback isn’t enough. “Make sure you have a way to listen and act on reasonable requests,” the blog post says. “Open a two-way communication channel to ask more questions and provide feedback of your own. Even if you can’t accommodate all requests, letting employees know you heard it and explaining your current position is equally as important.”
An August 2022 report in Convenience Store News offers other suggestions, including investing in tools to improve communication between managers and employees along with offering instant access to earned wages, a perk that Gen Z employees especially appreciate.
Focusing on Retention
Just being able to attract employees isn’t enough. Retaining them after they come on board is also crucial. Jobs listing website Indeed offers a number of ideas to boost retention.
Topping the list: Focus on the hiring process. Indeed advises examining job descriptions to make sure they accurately describe the qualifications, skills, and experience needed for the job.
Another suggestion from Indeed is to invest in employees’ careers. Workers are more likely to be loyal if they understand their employers are invested in their professional development. Providing advancement opportunities also contributes to retention.
In addition, Indeed suggests creating a mentor program as part of the onboarding process so employees will have a go-to person for guidance.
Indeed also says recognizing achievements and milestones is another way to boost retention.
Why People Leave
In addition to devising ways to attract workers, employers need to understand why hourly workers so often leave. Human resource consulting firm Robert Half posted an article in April 2023 advising employers to conduct exit interviews as a way to determine whether their retention strategies need to change.
Exit interviews often reveal the common reasons people quit, including inadequate salary, perks and benefits that aren’t competitive, employees’ feelings of being overworked and/or unsupported, and limited opportunities for career advancement.
Other common reasons Robert Half cited include a desire for better work-life balance, a lack of recognition, boredom, dissatisfaction with management, concerns about the company’s direction or financial health, dissatisfaction with company culture, the desire to make a change, and better job opportunities at other places of employment.
Tammy Binford is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.