Organizations everywhere are struggling to recruit and keep hourly workers.
Hourly employees in food-service and hospitality are generally acknowledged to be underpaid and overworked—and companies have been finding it more and more difficult to hire people and get them to stay.
According to a recent Toronto Star article, approximately 180,000 Canadian food-service workers left their positions in February 2020 and never returned—in favour of roles in “white-collar sectors”, which provide better pay and more security not just during COVID but at any given time.
The pandemic lockdown was the last straw for many hourly employees, as they not only faced layoffs and shortages but were also putting themselves at risk of catching COVID. For businesses, staff shortages have led to fewer opening hours/days and less profit.
Employers need to figure out better strategies for supporting hourly workers to ensure engagement and minimize turnover.
There are many different ways that employers can practice supporting hourly workers better.
Transparency and adaptability are key
Employees want to know what’s going on and that’s especially important as things continue to change with COVID. It’s essential to communicate any updates to all employees, but to also be flexible as more changes happen.
Consider using a group messaging system to keep all employees in the loop. Slack, for example, allows employees to set their own preferences so that they can choose when to receive notifications. Additionally, you can invest in a scheduling and time tracking software that will allow you to keep track of hours and employees will be able to see their hours worked, swap shifts, and more.
Improve wages, or at least, offer perks
Of course, not every organization may be able to offer competitive wages and better benefits, but figuring out how to facilitate a more positive and supportive company culture is a start to better supporting hourly workers.
Training Magazine suggests allowing employees to access earned wages early—such as between regular pay periods or on evenings/holidays/weekends as needed. Early access to earned wages can “empower your workers and reduce financial stress at the same time”, while also positioning “your organization as an empathetic employer, which can increase the tenure of your employees and reduce turnover”.
Offer more flexibility
Hourly employees often have little control over their shifts, hours, and time off. Training Magazine writes that giving employees increased flexibility is important for preventing “burnout at the front-line and manager level by giving employees a way to create a more suitable schedule and a healthier work-life balance”.
Supporting hourly workers is going to become increasingly important as many organizations move into their busy holiday season and aim to hire more employees. The question leaders should ask themselves isn’t ‘Why does no one want to work?’, but rather ‘What can I offer my employees to make them want to work here?’.