Attracting Hourly Employees Requires More Than Competitive Pay

Flexibility for hourly workers can no longer be an additional perk or a pipe dream.

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You may recognize this situation — your business is understaffed, so you post an ad online, offering a competitive wage in the hope it will attract applicants. You wait a week and, to your surprise, no one applies. You're left scratching your head, wondering, "Maybe the graphic design wasn't eye-catching enough?" Here's the reality: It wasn't the graphic design. If you want to attract reliable workers, you need to provide competitive wages and flexibility.

A record number of 4.5 million workers quit their jobs this March, and the number stayed basically the same in May, with 4.3 million workers quitting — some of the highest numbers since the Great Resignation began barreling through workplaces across the country. It's harder than ever to attract workers, and that is even more true for hourly workers.

We need to reach beyond the benchmarks of competitive pay; workers want to be able to have control of their schedules and thus control of their careers. Flexibility for hourly workers can no longer be an additional perk or a pipe dream. It needs to be the standard business practice.

Flexibility and a Living Wage

A living wage and flexibility are not mutually exclusive. In the past, workers often had to choose between a job with competitive pay and one that offered flexibility. Now, it's not an either/or situation but rather a both/and. Workers want flexibility and a living wage, and many are no longer willing to accept anything less.

In a recent report from Jabra, 59% of workers surveyed ranked flexibility as their top priority (over compensation and other benefits). For the company I work for, over 90% of our platform users report flexibility as the top reason they are using the app. Imagine your kid has an upcoming soccer game, and you don't want to miss it: If you're locked into a schedule you can't get out of without the fear of losing income or getting fired, what will a dollar more an hour do for you without flexibility?

That being said, hourly workers don't want to sacrifice one for the other, and employers should be sure not to short-change on either end. Hourly workers deserve both excellent pay and flexibility, and if you want to run successful businesses with stable, talented workers, you have to prioritize both.

Put Workers in the Driver's Seat

Some 3 out of 5 Americans surveyed say they want to be their own boss, and who can blame them? The past few years have been anything but stable for hourly workers. In response, many workers crave the ability to craft their schedules — to feel they have complete control over their career trajectory.

One of my company's users graduated from college in 2018 with finance and real estate degrees but struggled to find a job through online applications. He decided to look elsewhere and utilized flexible work apps to begin bartending. A few years later, he's grown to love this work, enjoying the freedom of being his own boss and the unexpected growth that has come with stepping out of his comfort zone.

In my career, I relied on contract work after I had children because I needed the flexibility to work around the needs of my young kids. To this day, I feel grateful to have had a say in when and how much I worked and to be able to spend time with my children as they grew up.

It's empowering to say, "This is how I want to work, and this is when I want to work." Making your own career choices and knowing you have a say in the experiences and skill sets you want to grow and nurture is a vital freedom we all deserve. As employers, we have the opportunity to provide this empowerment to our workers, but only if we are willing to move toward the future of flexible work.

Let's Trash the Old Model

So how do we go about implementing flexible work in our businesses? By bringing flexibility to hourly work. Business owners can let employees know of their needs and post shifts, and workers can then sign up for the shifts that fit their needs and financial goals. This can be in-person at the business itself, online where those searching for work can find it or even on apps made specifically for this purpose. Business owners give workers what they're craving — flexibility — while also increasing operational efficiency, freeing up time and money to address fluctuating business needs.

The holiday season typically sees an influx of staffing — come January, many businesses experience a lull. Instead of laying off employees during slower periods or losing money by keeping them on board, you can easily dial up or down your staffing based on what you need.

Furthermore, the old model for hourly workers required them to prioritize their shifts above all else and, inevitably, required managers to scramble to find coverage when life and emergencies got in the way. With flexible work, you won't have to worry about an understaffed shift, relieving stress on you and the workers who might have had to pick up the slack.

Flexibility Is the Future

We are moving into an entirely new era of work. If you want your business to navigate the Great Resignation, let alone a potential impending recession, you need to consider what will get workers in the door so you can continue to best serve your customers.

Employers must shift their mindsets from flexibility as an "added bonus" to an essential element of their business practices. Providing flexibility is a simultaneous investment in your workers and your business. When workers feel their time is respected and that they made the choice to be there, they are not only more likely to show up but are also more likely to be happy and productive while they're there. Best of all, they'll keep coming back.

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