Hourly employees comprise more than half of the U.S. workforce, yet many employers are unsuccessful in their efforts to find qualified candidates in sufficient numbers and fall short of retaining top employees long enough to realize a return on their investment. This is especially hard on smaller, retail employers whose workforce is primarily comprised of hourly workers.
The total cost of losing an hourly, frontline employee ranges from 30 to 150 percent of that person’s annual earnings, according to some estimates. It’s hard enough to find employees, but add to this the fact that turnover for non-exempt (hourly) help is more than three times greater than that of exempt (i.e., fixed salary) employees and it’s clear that employee turnover is a huge drain on profitability.
We’ll address the contributing factors to this problem and provide you with tips and suggestions for how to find good, reliable hourly employees who will be long-term assets for your business.
What Employers are Overlooking
One cause of this problem is that many employers don’t fully grasp the demographics of the hourly, frontline workforce. While many employers aim recruiting messages only to younger people, about one-third of these workers are actually 25-44, while slightly less than one-third are 45 or older. Many employers also recruit for full time positions when many hourly workers would prefer 30 or fewer hours per week.
Another large part of the hourly worker recruitment and retention problem can be attributed to the following:
- Many employers tend to focus on recruiting unemployed candidates when they’re looking for employees, which is fine, but be sure to also attract top candidates who may already be working and who may be open to a better job or working conditions.
- Depending on the nature of the job market, there may be an overwhelming number of applicants for each job, which makes it difficult to find exceptional performers. A more targeted marketing strategy will help you find top job candidates.
- Most managers and supervisors hire only occasionally and aren’t trained in best-practice techniques for how to find employees. Instead, they’re managers who hire from time-to-time. Build a continuous talent pipeline and be sure to take time with your job interview preparation.
Take a Marketing Approach to Recruiting
To recruit the best hourly employees, employers have to make recruiting a 24/7 activity. If you only recruit when you have openings, you can’t get the best, because the pressure to hire someone quickly causes you to be less selective and often results in a bad hiring decision. Learn how your business can attract top talent by building a talent pipeline and perpetually seeking out your next recruit before the need arises.
Also, you need to be on top of your applicants. Whether you’re looking for a customer service representative or retail salesperson, most people apply for three or more jobs at once. This means employer responsiveness is a deciding factor in recruiting success. So, when you need new recruits, monitor the system and get back to promising applicants right away, even if you’re not quite ready to conduct interviews or make hiring decisions.
Become a “Magnetic Company”
There are companies that never have recruiting problems. When they need good employees, plenty of candidates are readily available (companies such as Disney, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, for example). Many companies hiring for their small business do have similar reputations you don’t have to be big to be desirable to candidates. In fact, you can maximize your small business hiring advantage.
These companies can use the flexibility inherent to their smaller size to become “magnetic companies” that attract quality applicants. For example, many small businesses are closely tied to their local communities and have the “home town” advantage that larger competitors can’t touch. Also, smaller businesses tend to provide more opportunities for workers to accelerate their careers are learn new skills.
Make It Easy to Find Hourly Employees
To hire the best, you’ve got to make it easy for the best people to apply. If you accept phone calls, résumés, and applications only during regular business hours, you discourage the very people you should be trying to recruit—all the good people who are busy working. This means you have to modify or extend your hours for accepting applications and conducting interviews to synch with applicant availability.
Install a 24-hour job hotline and include it in your job postings. It can be as simple as an answering machine or as sophisticated as a fully automated interviewing system. With a 24/7 system, you’ll see an increase the high-quality applicants by 30-50 percent or more.
Job applicants are busy. They sit down at the computer and “let their fingers do the walking.” If you’re not using popular online job boards and your company website to advertise your jobs, you’re definitely missing the boat. If there is a “Careers” or “Join Our Team” tab on your website, take a few minutes to take it for a test drive. Many of these website pages lose jobseekers by making the process too complicated and/or time-consuming while some don’t work at all.
Find, and Keep, the Best Hourly Employees
The workforce, particularly the hourly workforce, can seem like a whirlwind at times. Knowing how to weather the ups and downs of the job market and find employees who can deliver results is no easy task. And, once you find them, it’s always in your best interest to keep them around. If you’re looking to find and retain top talent in this market, you need to know what they’re looking for. Close the gap by getting free access to key candidate survey data, and more, from Monster Intelligence.