Retaining the Hourly Employee

7 Proven Strategies to Retain Hourly Employees and Reduce Turnover

After you have spent so much time (and $$$) advertising, recruiting, hiring, on-boarding and training all of those hourly employees, how are you going to keep them?! If you have been following some of my recent posts, I’m hoping you have some indication. The turnover rate for the hourly workforce can range from around 40% – upwards of 150% depending on the industry. To put this in perspective if you work at a company of about 1000 employees, you are hiring at least 400 people a year. Ouch! That’s a lot of work…and money and resources. So, why not figure out a way to keep more of those people longer (at least the good ones)?

7 effective ways to retain the hourly employee

Cool People: I hate to sound like a broken record. People will figure out if your organization has a cool and fun culture pretty quick. This will be the number one factors that makes those hourly workers stick around. Make it an awesome place to work, people need to love their co-workers. And this starts at the top, not on the retail floor.

The Next BIG Thing: Your organization can be in an old industry that has been around for ages but you can still be ahead of the times. A good example is Whole Foods compared to Safeway a few years ago. People need to feel like they are apart in the the “next big thing”.

$$$$ – It’s not just about the money. Of course, it’s a factor and everyone’s got to make a living but many hourly positions are within a few dollars of minimum wage. Offer more money through programs  like profit sharing, benefits at 30 hours a week, PTO and incentive programs. Offer a better total comp package than your competitors. First decide you your competitors are. It won’t necessarily be the same businesses you compete with for your customers, it’s the other companies who are employing people like your company.

What’s Next?: Make sure people feel like they have opportunities for advancement. This could be a promotion, cross-training, or even to be able to transfer to a new location or department. Naturally people like to learn and feel valued when they are more ingrained in the organization. Train, train and train some more and then provide feedback. Whether the feedback is formal or constant, people want to hear what they are doing right and what could improve.

The BIG Picture: Make employees feel like they are contributing to more than just a job or company – think bigger picture. Get employees involved in the passion that is apart of your organization. If your company does community events or charity work, encourage everyone to participate…especially the CEO.

Flexibility – the hourly workforce is often students, so provide flexibility for them to go to school and still work for you. This will keep them around longer. That may mean you have a workforce that’s 50% part-time and that’s okay. You may need to come up with some fun ideas of offering benefits and incentives for part-time workers vs. big expensive health insurance packages. Provide personal leave options for people to pursue other interests. Structure your workforce so its widely accepted to take an unpaid personal leave to travel on a band tour.

Appreciate Tenure: Find some creative ways to appreciate and award tenure. No, I don’t mean a certificate or plaque that shows their 10 year anniversary date. How about a paid 4 week sabbatical with a $2,000 expenses paid vacation??? Maybe a PTO bonus or some new company apparel.

Lastly, it’s only natural for this group of employees to come and go. The best compliment you can receive as an employer of hourly employees is if they come back – rehiring people should be a common practice.  If you have perfected the formula above, they will come running back. Let them leave and take a break, they will quickly realize how good they had it.

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Sabra Reyes

Sabra Reyes is one of those rare Human Resources professionals who knew HR was the career of choice in college. She received a BS in Business with a concentration in Human Resources Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After 10 years of HR generalist work, she has found her niche as a Human Resources Director for an independent natural and organic grocery company with more than a handful of stores in the Bay Area region of California. You can find her on Linkedin.


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