Tips for Engaging Hourly Employees

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More than 50 percent of young people in entry-level hourly positions have plans to leave their current jobs in less than a year, a recent FSB and Hart Research Associates study shows. Less than 25 percent of those surveyed stated that they were satisfied with their current job.

Employee disengagement is a big problem for many businesses and a costly one, too. In some instances, a single employee turnover can cost up to 200 percent of their yearly salary. Beyond the costs of recruiting and onboarding, employee disengagement causes additional problems for your business, including:

  • More accidents in the workplace
  • High absenteeism rates
  • Decreased business profitability
  • Poor customer service

How to Keep Hourly Employees Engaged

Our culture tends to treat hourly employees as the lowest common denominator of the workforce, making punchlines of their livelihoods. Yet retail and health care jobs (including those requiring lower skill sets, such as home care companions and insurance agents) comprise the bulk of our growing service economy. As a result, employers who treat their hourly workers as mere pawns underestimate their value, and may soon find themselves checkmated by competitors.

Here are some strategies for engaging hourly employees:

  • Improve training for frontline managers. Too often managers are promoted into a position and have no experience managing a team. Management training helps new managers learn how to better communicate, manage and build a positive culture in the workplace.
  • Provide professional development opportunities. Young employees are more apt to stay in their job if they see it as a career. Providing clear career paths for entry-level hourly employees focusing on promotion possibilities and stages of professional growth can keep them more engaged.
  • Focus on inclusion, not only diversity. It is no longer enough to just have a diverse workforce, it needs to be inclusive. Many companies are continuing to place more ethnic minorities and women in leadership roles. Diversity at the top matters and is long overdue.
  • Allow predictable and flexible schedules. Hourly employees are more likely to stay in their job when they have more control with scheduling their hours. They want to know in advance what their schedule will be, and what flexibility they have for personal time off or unforeseen events.
  • Offer lifestyle benefits. Hourly- and part-time jobs are often derided as “not real jobs” because they usually don’t come with benefits. If your employees don’t view working for you as a real job, they likely have one foot outside the door. Health insurance is the one big, expensive benefit that many workers seek, but many businesses cannot afford to pay for it. There are other benefits part-time employees can enjoy, such as flexible schedules to accommodate caring or family members, college schedules, or offering on-site childcare with rotating in-house staff members, or simply maintain a fun, happy workplace where staff have fun at work and outside the office, engaged in social responsibility on behalf of the company. If you’re able to provide a good work-lifestyle, you are better able to retain employees.
  • Don’t assume hourly employees will inevitably move on. If your business intentionally views certain jobs as transitory in nature, look again. Some employees want job security in hourly positions. Reward loyal employees with incentives, even if they are unable to commit more hours. If you value your employees, they will value you.
  • Involve everyone in the company culture. Are employees proud to represent your brand, or is it “just a job?” Do you receive honest feedback from hourly employees – and respond to it just as honestly?
  • Respect all employees. GlassDoor.com, Google’s ratings, and a range of other online resources clear the way for employees of any rank to support your firm or damage its reputation. Be kind to everyone. If you treat part-time staff like the lower caste, you may risk being humiliated online.

Company meetings, involving every staff member, are an ideal way to show inclusiveness. You don’t need a fancy golf resort or spa amenities to do it. Meeting on company grounds or in for a park barbecue gives employees of all levels to mix. When leaders turn the corporate ladder sideways, they demonstrate how they value everyone’s contribution to the company’s success and shows everyone they are all a part of the greater team.

For creative ways to bring your team members together, schedule an event with Venture Up.