Hourly workers are a significant part of today's UK workforce, yet the focus on staff retention and engagement in businesses of all sizes tends to fall with full-time salaried employees. The Harvard Business Review recently reported that as many as half of all the young people working in entry-level jobs in the US on an hourly rate plan to leave their employment within a year.
Staff turnover costs money. So, how can businesses keep young hourly workers engaged? While keeping hourly staff engaged can seem like a lot of effort, it is definitely effort well spent. The key to retention and engagement is in managing young hourly workers effectively. Here’s how.
How to manage young hourly workers?
- Offer greater predictability
A certain level of unpredictability for hourly workers is acceptable. Shifts change according to demand and it can be difficult to plan staff requirements months in advance. Millennials seem to manage uncertainty better than previous generations, but they are also more likely to move on. Salaries may also fluctuate according to busy and quiet hours, especially where workers rely on tips to top up their income. This lack of predictability can be a real turn off for many.
Unpredictability when it comes to shifts can have a negative impact on staff engagement and motivation. Workers given shift rotas just a few days in advance have little time to plan for life outside of work, often leading to a negative impact on a young employee’s work life balance. Poorly planned rotas and late scheduling are bound to cause conflict. Investing in shift planning software is well worth it. Planning and allocating shifts in advance can cut down on potential conflicts and give hourly employees greater flexibility in planning life around work.
- Give your employees a say in the scheduling and decision-making process
Empowering your staff to have some say in their schedule and other areas of work will not only help to increase employee engagement; it will also help to cut down on your admin time. Shift planner apps are a great way of handling some control back to your hourly employees. This gives them the ability to swap shifts and has more control over scheduled hours.
Try to honor work preferences and time-off requests where possible. Building up goodwill will pay off. Let your employees find a substitute when they can’t work. It’s a great way to instill a sense of responsibility in your staff.
- Manage with fairness and respect
A company culture built on respect and trust is far more likely to attract and keep the best employees. Handle requests for time off fairly. Offer hours fairly. If you need to give more hours to a particular employee due to their skill set, explain that to your team. If you need to make last-minute changes to rotas, be open with your hourly employees about the reason.
- Give them benefits and say ‘thank you’
Create a reward program and try to offer hourly employees some benefits. It may not be feasible to extend gym membership, health plans or bonuses, but discounted self-pay options and other less expensive options will show your hourly paid workers they are valued.
"Give your staff regular feedback and publicly thank them when they’ve done a great job – that goes for salaried staff as well as your hourly employees."
- Recognize potential
Young hourly employees with high potential can be hard to keep. They have lots of options and there is much evidence to show that young people job hop more frequently to pursue better opportunities elsewhere. Look out for young hourly employees who have the potential for fast-track training. Young people are twice as likely to stay in their job if they see their job as a stepping stone to a career. Offer meaningful opportunities for growth within the company.
- Be accurate, consistent and offer support
Hourly workers are likely to have other things going on outside of work, especially in part-time roles, where hours aren’t consistent. It’s imperative that you don’t make scheduling errors as employees forced to change commitments to get to work will only create bad feeling.
Recognizing the needs of your hourly workers is really important. Hourly workers may be working part-time because they are in education, or are caring for a relative. Try to have some understanding of your hourly workers’ needs and offer your support, if there is an issue you could help to resolve.
- Focus on strong communication
Communication is important for any business to function effectively and that includes communication with your hourly employees. Create small strong and supportive teams with open communication. Team-wide communication will leave less room for errors. Turning up for a shift that isn’t scheduled, or being reprimanded for missing a shift due to a lack of communication is a real turn off.
Use technology your young people understand. Whatsapp, Messenger or texting can keep staff in the loop. Millennials have learned to always be processing, so communication needs to be frequent and in small chunks.