April 8, 2016

Getting the Most Out of Your Hourly Employees


It’s hard to explain how great of a challenge managing hourly employees is to someone who has never done it. Running a small business that depends on hourly staff is incredibly difficult. Unlike most salaried employees, hourly workers are not necessarily seeking stability.

The turnover rate is huge in these types of business, because hourly employees are usually younger people who have no problem moving on from one job to another.

Many businesses are familiar with hourly workers because, in reality, a majority depend on them. According to statistics from 2014, hourly employees made up over 58 percent of the working population – 77 million workers age 16 and older.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when managing hourly workers is that they view them as expendable. Why invest in employees that aren’t going to be around for long?

Many managers don’t understand, however, that replacing an employee that has left can cost a company thousands, and that putting in the effort to retain your hourly employees is actually the smart thing to do.

Even though the departure of your hourly employees is probably inevitable at some point in time, that doesn’t mean that you should not put any effort into managing them.

If you want to make the most of your staff while they are with you – and perhaps keep them with you longer than you’d expect – here’s what you need to do.

Hire the Right People

This is where it all begins. If you are not being very specific with your hiring process in an effort to find people who best fit your needs, you are not doing enough. The first step in this process needs to be improving the way in which you search for new employees, most notably, how you’re creating job postings and ads.

You can’t start looking for a new employee before you’ve defined what type of employee you are looking for in the first place. It’s a lot like going shopping without having any real needs. You’ll end up spending money on things you don’t need.

Know what kind of person you want to hire. What type of skills should they possess? What age group should they be in? What type of prior experience should they have? What types of responsibilities is the job going to entail?

Making sure that your job ads are detailed and honest, above all, gives you a greater chance of hiring a person who is an excellent fit for your business.


Onboard Them the Right Way

Even if you’re hiring a candidate that’s potentially perfect for what you need, you’re wasting that potential if you are not doing a good job of bringing that employee on board. Onboarding is not just about having your new employees meet the team and sign some paperwork. It’s all about acclimating them to the company and enabling them to perform their tasks at a high level right away.

Your new employee needs to be able to hit the ground running and learn on the go. Two of the best ways to do that is to provide them with training and mentors.

Provide Training

Not only is it important to provide your new employees with training even before their first day at the job starts, it’s just as important to make sure that the training process is continuous. Getting the training to the employees is a fairly easy process these days. Humanity, for example, has a built in training module that allows managers to upload material for new employees to look at and learn from.

Of course, hourly employees won’t be able to learn everything from their computers and some hands-on training is going to be involved as well. It’s usually a good idea to have their first couple of paid days be used strictly for training purposes. That way, they’ve already been a part of the business and seen how and what they need to be doing before they are actually called upon to start performing these responsibilities independently.

Provide Mentors

Always try to team your new hourly employees up with staff members that have been with you for a while and have proven to be high quality, responsible workers.

Providing an experienced employee with the chance of becoming a mentor to the new employees is great for both parties. The new employees have someone to teach them the ropes. The experienced employees will feel as if they are contributing at a greater level and will know that their supervisors view them as leaders among the staff.

Offer Advancement Options

It’s wrong to assume that hourly employees are not interested in staying with one company for a longer period of time and advancing within the company. It’s true that many do tend to hop around from job to job, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be providing options for advancement to employees who want them.

This is where the concept of ongoing training comes in again. Training shouldn’t be over once the hourly employees learns about what it is that he or she needs to do. You should continue offering training for those who want to learn more and advance their careers.

If you’re not motivating your best employees to want to get better and learn new things, you are doing a disservice to them and your entire business.


Promote Constant Communication

Poor communication is one of the biggest reasons for high turnover rates when it comes to hourly employees. If your employees do not clearly understand the vision and and strategic goals of your business, how will they work towards them? They won’t.

Communication is especially important when it comes to hourly staff, because shifts are always changing and it’s not always the same exact routine. Sure, Humanity can help you take care of those shift scheduling problems and aid you in communicating better with your staff. But there are aspects of workplace communication that can’t be handled via a cloud-based application. The following, for example.

Give Feedback

Providing your hourly employees with a constant stream of feedback is one of the most important aspects of establishing good workplace communication. Make it a priority to regularly tell your employees what they are doing well and where they can stand to make some improvements.

You won’t believe how much a “thank you” here and a “great job” there can mean for the confidence and satisfaction of your hourly workers. And if you need to criticize an employee and tell them that they need to fix something, do it in private. Take them aside, provide clear examples of what they are doing wrong and ask what you can do to help them get those aspects of their job done the right way.

Offer Ongoing Support

Hourly employees are different from salaried employees. Their lives outside of work are usually a bit more complicated. Some might be going to school, others might be working extra jobs to support their families.

Because of this, people who manage hourly employees need to be a lot more sensitive to these types of issues. Establish a professional relationship with your staff that shows them that they can talk to you about anything and that you truly care about them. Makes sure that the lines of communication at work are always open.

Offer Flexibility

As mentioned earlier, the personal schedules of hourly employees are usually pretty varied. Hourly employees often juggle several jobs at once or need to balance work life with school or family life a lot more delicately than salaried employees.

As a manager, you should be flexible when it comes to scheduling shifts. Once again, this is another issue that Humanity can help you with. For example, our application allows hourly workers to set their availability so that their managers know when they can and can’t work.

Another good idea is to give your hourly employees their work schedules ahead of time, as much as possible, and to make these work schedules as predictable as possible so that they can plan around them.

Humanity also allows employees to request shift trades and drops on their own, which gives employees another level of flexibility. This option gives them more say in when they work, but it also makes your job easier by giving employees more independence and giving you the option of simply approving or denying shift trade requests in the end.


The bottom line is that treating your hourly workers as if they are expendable will only make them work as if your company is expendable to them. Sure, there will be many employees who will leave your company very quickly, but there will also be those who want to stay with you for as long as possible.

If you have high-performing hourly employees and don’t want to lose them, you need to put in the effort. In the end, investing the time and effort needed to nurture your employees and help them become successful will pay off for you in the end in the form of both having excellent employees you can rely on and decreasing your turnover rate significantly.