Want to Engage Hourly Workers Start with Flexible SchedulingNatalia Persin
As staffing shortages and turnover increase in businesses worldwide, more establishments rely heavily on hourly employees. Paid per hour, depending on how many services they put in, hourly employees offer businesses cost-saving benefits and the flexibility to only pay for the hours an employee works. But do these hourly workers get the flexibility they need in their work in return?
As with contractual or full-time employees, hourly employees crave the ease of workplace flexibility. This enables them to be more efficient in their roles, helping them better manage the stress from having a spontaneous and irregular schedule. As a result, more and more hourly employees use flexibility as a metric to determine which organization they would rather work with.
Are you planning to employ, retain, and engage employees in your business?? Employing and implementing flexible schedules is a great way to motivate hourly hires. In this guide, we will highlight everything you need to know about creating workplace flexibility for the average hourly employee.
Hourly Employees And Non-Flexible Jobs
Anyone would think that by only working specific hours on specific days, hourly employees get all the freedom and flexibility they crave at work. However, this is not entirely true. Salaried workers often have more work flexibility than the hourly workers you run into at retail stores or restaurants.
This case is almost ironic, especially since hourly workers are usually more financially strained than regular employees. With irregular schedules which contribute to a non-uniform average earning per month and the absence of bonuses that regular employees are privy to, one would expect that hourly workers get more work flexibility than most.
Unsurprisingly, they are losing interest in work and not delivering their duties as they should. They are tired of their rigid schedules and are seeking more flexibility. Flexibility to hourly workers means having control over their schedules. It means accessing more transparency in their shifts, assignments, and scheduled hours.
For many hourly workers, the premise of work flexibility means they have their life in order and more time to dedicate to other affairs of their lives. For some, this means having enough time to perform parental or schooling duties, two things they find unattainable with a hectic schedule.
How Irregular Work Schedules Affect Hourly Workers
A few years ago, especially before the pandemic, hourly workers were not considered significant to the growth of businesses. However, by 2020, hourly workers in the United States alone represented 55.5% of the country’s workforce, making them essential to the growth of the country’s economy.
Post-covid, many hourly workers became the backbone of establishments. Businesses struggled to attract quality staff while keeping labor costs minimal and adhering to the pandemic restrictions. As a result, many business owners looked to hourly employees to perform duties that regular employees couldn’t do at the time.
Hourly workers since then have proven to be essential parts of the economy. Yet, a survey in December 2020 showed that hourly employees in the states earn about $29.81, with the average weekly wage being $1034.41.
Given these low wages, it is no surprise that hourly employees live from paycheck to paycheck. This can become a problem for employees who miss shifts as the amount they earn depends on the number of hours they work. Missing even just a few hours may set back their ability to pay for the basic amenities they receive monthly.
Given the major consequence of irregular work schedules, it isn’t a surprise that many hourly workers remain unsatisfied with their jobs. As a result, they tend to quit their jobs even more often than regular employees.
Hourly workers are frustrated and becoming more unwilling to work with employers who do not offer easy work flexibility. In turn, employers are finding it difficult to find workers to fill their vacant job roles and engage hourly employees.
As a result, many companies are introducing flexibility at work for hourly workers.
Recognizing The Need For Flexibility For Hourly Workers’ Engagement
Having an understaffed business can be a frustrating experience. To make things worse, you realize you do not have the financial capacity to employ a full-time employee. As a result, you choose to hire an hourly employee instead.
You put out job ads to notify potential talents about the vacant role. To your surprise and bewilderment, getting an hourly employee is not as easy as you thought. You become even more frustrated when you find out that you are getting little to no applications from hourly workers, even with the competitive wages you are offering.
However, the problem is not how competitive the wages you offer her. It is how flexible or inflexible the schedule you offer is.
You won’t only encounter this problem when hiring. Even after hiring these workers, it is common to find them uninterested in their jobs. In fact, 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in March 2022 after the pandemic. Although many employees resigned from their jobs for various reasons, such as health risks, many did so to find jobs that pay better or, more importantly, offer better benefits such as flexibility.
In today’s business world, it is not surprising to see that flexibility has become part of the many benefits employees crave at their job. Although flexibility is usually synonymous with salary earners, it is not a mutually exclusive term compared with hourly jobs. In fact, more than anything, hourly employees are taking a stand for the need for flexibility in their professions.
Flexibility to many hourly employees is one of the most important factors determining whether they want to work at or keep a job. It determines how motivated they are to perform their roles, how engaged they are, and how satisfied they will remain.
For years, flexibility and hourly jobs have been two mutually exclusive topics. However, flexibility has become so relevant to living wages that it is no longer an “and/or” situation but a necessary one. Today, if you plan on keeping your hourly employees engaged at work, you ‘have to’ offer flexibility.
This is not surprising, especially since employees will swap pay for more flexibility in today’s business world.
Hourly workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. They are now interested in only working with companies that offer suitable flexibility necessary for them to strike a work-life balance without necessarily compromising their pay.
Redefining Traditional Shift With Flexibility
“Will flexibility defeat the purpose of hourly pay?” is a question many employers ask.
The concept of an hourly job is for an employee to be paid per shift. However, there is no formula for how this shift should be measured.
Flexibility in an hourly job does not entirely mean having employees come and go however they like. It simply means giving employees control over their schedules. However, to do this, you need to begin by redefining traditional shift times.
The key to redefining traditional shifts is to break away from the rigid five-day, forty-hour workweek mindset. This is important because the sole purpose of flexibility is to enable employees to self-schedule and be autonomous. This will help them balance their work-life routine while remaining productive.
Flexibility for hourly workers aims to solve one of the biggest challenges hourly employees face, which is the lack of an effective work-life balance. It is concerned with balancing the average hourly worker’s professional schedule to strike a balance in their personal lives. It does this to help them be more engaged and productive at work.
Flexibility for hourly workers may mean flex time or the ability to adjust their hours to suit productivity. It may mean having a flexible schedule, meaning an employee can determine the best days to go to work. It may also mean having alternative schedules ready when employees cannot make their shifts due to emergencies.
Essentially, the three key areas of workplace flexibility for hourly workers include:
- Having alternative work schedules
- Giving your employees the freedom to schedule and accommodate personal responsibilities
- Offering flexible times in the event of a family or personal emergency.
These are important because these types of flexibility offer various structures suitable for individual hourly worker needs.
Having an alternative schedule offers workers the opportunity to break out of the rigid traditional schedule and explore something new. It enables them to clock in for work when they are more active while setting their schedules to have time for personal matters.
Additionally, offering flexible times gives hourly workers the freedom to have a life outside their restrictive hourly jobs. With flexibility, shift workers can achieve a better work-life balance that reduces stress and increases engagement.
Flexibility As A Means Of Motivating Hourly Employees
Other than better pay to reflect how much work they already put in, flexibility is another important feature every hourly employee wants in their job. Although many employers may frown against offering this solution, it is important to note that flexibility may be one of the best ways to unlock engagement in an hourly work environment.
Working conditions are already severely discouraging to the average hourly employee. The spontaneity of work schedules, the piling of physical and emotional stress, the absence of adequate recognition, and the lack of a healthy work-life balance causes the average shift worker only to perform the barest minimum to get paid.
As a result, many employers are recognizing the need to implement flexibility as a means to get employees more interested in their duties at work. By making the scheduling process more autonomous, companies will motivate employees to be more productive, eliminate burnout and be consistent.
In a flexible workplace, employees can come to work when they are most productive, schedule their shifts around times when they do not have important personal matters to attend to, and easily cancel shifts when important personal emergencies arise without fear of being laid off.
The ideal flexible workplace gives employees a say in their jobs. This not only creates a healthy and productive work environment but also helps the average shift worker be more aligned with the business they work with.
Additionally, employees will become more engaged, thereby increasing productivity and profitability for the organization. Flexibility will lead to a better work-life balance which leads to less turnover rate, helping companies retain talent in the competitive job market. In the end, it is a win-win affair for all parties involved.
Why Creating Flexibility Is Difficult
A large percentage of the business world is leveraging the power of flexibility as an incentive to spur employee productivity. Hourly employers are the newest group in the business world to employ this employee-centric solution by offering flextime, job sharing, and telecommuting options to offer hourly workers the flexibility they need to strike a personal and business balance.
However, the process of adopting flexibility is easier said than done, as hourly employers face challenges that make it more difficult for hourly employees to enjoy flexibility. Some of these challenges include:
- Rigid Scheduling: Many businesses struggle to let go of their employees’ schedules. The rigidity of hourly schedules is so ingrained and buried in hourly jobs that it becomes difficult for employers to make the scheduling business an autonomous affair. As such, many hourly workers will admit they have no control over their work schedule, including required overtime, start and stop times, and work breaks.
- Unpredictability: With salary-earning workers, there is a regular schedule for employees to follow. However, hourly employees regularly have their schedules adjusted without prior notice. This defeats the purpose of flexibility, which is a term that encompasses an employee’s ability to plan their schedule to their preference. This is especially evident when a worker is expected to work overtime without warning.
- Lack Of Job Security: Unlike salary-earning workers, hourly employees do not enjoy job security. These industrial workers can be laid off when business slows down or may even be required to put in fewer hours than they already are. Fewer hours equals less money, a problem that further deteriorates their financial position.
Flexible Work Solutions
Implementing flexibility for hourly employees can understandably be a daunting task. However, some tips to help the process be more seamless include:
- Offer workers a chance to provide input on their work schedules, including schedule preferences, start times, end times, and break times.
- Train your managers always to encourage flexibility
- Only offer employees the optimal number of working hours
- Provide work schedules in advance
- Keep schedules and tasks to a minimum and avoid overloading workers
- Give all workers a consistent number of hours
- Let workers know in advance if the number of hours they work will change.
Encouraging Engagement With Flexibility
Hourly workers are speaking up about what they want in their jobs, and flexibility is at the forefront of their requests. Without flexibility, many employees are disconnected from their jobs, suffering from demotivation, and being less productive.
Offering flexibility is a powerful tactic for engaging and retaining hourly workers. By creating an accommodating job environment through flexibility options such as shift swapping, adjusting hours, and working remotely, you can improve the average hourly worker’s job satisfaction, work-life balance, and retention rate. Companies that value flexibility in their scheduling procedures will likely stand out as employers of choice and develop a more devoted and effective workforce as competition for hourly workers intensifies.