Happy hourly employees at work

Keeping Your Friends Close…and Your Hourly Workers Closer

3 min read • May 24, 2018 • Grant Olsen

According to the Harvard Business Review, satisfaction is decreasing among young people in entry level jobs. The data comes from a job engagement survey of more than 1,200 hourly workers from industries like manufacturing, hospitality, and retail. What does this mean for small business owners? Well, when employee engagement dips, you’ll start seeing more issues like no-shows, accidents, and poor customer service.

The bad news: More than half of the workers surveyed said they planned to leave their job in less than a year. That kind of turnover is expensive, costing up to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. Yikes.

The good news: You can start doing things right now to increase engagement and prevent your small business from becoming a revolving door for hourly workers.

If employee engagement and retention matter to you (and they’d sure better), your work is cut out for you. It requires ongoing effort and a genuine desire to make life easier for your staff.

Here are four tips that’ll help you get things moving in the right direction.

1. Make your scheduling more employee-friendly: This is obviously easier said than done, because you rely on your staff and need to know where they’ll be and when they’ll be there. But you should look at ways to give your employees better control. More than 80% of the workers surveyed said they’d be more likely to stay at their jobs if the scheduling were more predictable and flexible. If the flexibility part is too tricky a puzzle to solve right now, focus on making the scheduling more predictable, so your employees can better plan their personal lives around work.

2. Provide development opportunities: The majority of young workers want a career, not just a disposable job. So if you can offer the chance to move up and grow in your business, your employees will be twice as likely to stick around. A good first step for this initiative is to simply communicate and clarify what you may already have in place. If a given employee stays with the business and performs well, what would be his or her next step? What opportunities would be possible? Let them know and they’ll thank you with increased loyalty.

3. Treat employees with respect: Sounds basic enough, but nearly half the workers surveyed said they weren’t treated fairly by their managers. On top of that, 32% said they’d lost a job in the past because of unfair treatment. You can shore up this area of retention by coaching managers on communication skills and building a positive culture in the workplace.

4. Be an employer with benefits: According to the survey, health insurance is the most desired benefit for young workers. And there are many companies that offer health insurance to even part-time, hourly employees. If that’s not in the cards for you, look toward another valuable benefit: overtime. More than half the workers surveyed said they wanted to work more hours. By offering additional hours to your current employees, you can save money by not needing to hire new staff. Plus, you’ll improve engagement at the same time.

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Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.