How to best manage hourly employees

Communicating with line workers

Managing hourly employees is a difficult beast – part art and part science. They generally have different goals than salaried ones. These workers tend to change jobs more frequently – in search of higher wages, better work schedules and a more convenient commute. They also tend to be younger and have less formal education than salaried employees.
Because of the transience of the job and the skill sets they possess, hourly workers are sometimes looked upon as more expendable, so less time is invested in properly managing them. But employers make this mistake at their own peril.
Depending on the study, the cost of replacing an hourly employee can equate to a few thousand dollars to half a year’s worth of salary. Needless to say, it benefits the company to keep hourly employees around for the long-term.
There is a lot to keep in mind when managing hourly employees. Doing it right can lead to a motivated workforce working together. Screwing it up can lead to turmoil and a workforce ready to bail the minute something better comes along.
We hope you choose the former.
In order to get the right applicants, you must create both a strong job description and job analysis. The job description lays out the key attributes you look for when you hire.
HR expert Mel Kleiman said it best in a blog post on managing hourly employees. “Looking for an employee without knowing exactly what you need is like going grocery shopping without a list: you spend more time and money than you should, you don’t get everything that you need (while simultaneously splurging on things you don’t really need), and you usually have to go back and do it again.”
The job analysis on the other hand, would be the recipe. It reveals why the job exists and what the job will actually entail. It may spell out what the future holds and what a person might need to do in order to advance. A good job analysis also talks about the company, its values and its vision as well.
Having these written documents clearly laid out will allow you to eliminate many people who would likely be incredibly difficult to manage. Make sure you get this down pat.
Hiring the most talented employees in the world doesn’t do any good if they do not receive the training necessary to succeed. Therefore, make sure that employees are ready to hit the ground running when they come in for their first shift.
How do you make sure that employees are ready to go? One way, of course, would be to provide a very thorough orientation for new employees. But training doesn’t necessarily have to take place inside the establishment – consider providing opportunities for at-home studying such as manuals and webinars in order to allow workers to get up to speed.
Corollary: Don’t have a blind man helping a blind man. Depending on what industry you employ your hourly workers — turnover in the industry is likely rampant. Therefore, you may have a large number of staff members still learning the ropes. However, there are typically a few veteran employees on your staff who know the ins and outs of the job. As much as possible, make sure to schedule those long-time employees alongside the newer ones to provide ample training. Plus, if problems arise, you have a veteran that can better service the problem.
Miscommunication and poor communication between employees and the company is often cited as one of the biggest (if not the biggest) reason for high turnover inside of a company. Fortunately, it is one of the easiest problems to fix. Make sure that employees in the company are kept aware of new company policies and procedures on a frequent basis.
This could involve town hall meetings, or services such Red e App that will allow workers without an email address to get company information using a mobile device. How about all three? The more ways you can find to connect with your employees – the better.
Also make sure that employees effectively understand the company’s vision, goals and strategic direction. Make sure this isn’t something that just gets talked about once – this should be continually reinforced with all employees – whether hourly or salaried.
Make sure to speak face to face with your employees as often as you can to let them know BOTH what they’re doing well and what they can improve upon. A once-a-year review doesn’t cut it – employees need to hear from you on a regular basis.
Corollary: Praise in public, criticize in private. When an employee does a good job, make sure you let him know that – in front of other people. Even if it doesn’t come in the form of hefty bonuses and major promotions doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. You’d be surprised at how much a “thank you” and “great job” means to people. Praising employees in front of others not only gives them a boost of confidence and satisfaction, but can also motivate the witnesses to work harder for the same.
When an employee doesn’t meet your expectations, you should let them know that as well, but NOT in front of others. Quietly pull them aside and address the issue in a professional manner. Then let the employee know how they can go about correcting the issue.
A large number of your employees probably come to work in order to get a paycheck. But there will be a few eager to move up in the company. These may often be adult employees who have recently moved to the U.S. and are looking to get ahead to provide a better life for themselves and their families.
Provide those employees the tools needed to get ahead. Make sure they are fully aware of training and other professional development opportunities that the company provides. As much as time permits, mentor these employees so they know the ins and outs of what management entails. By doing so, you develop a loyal employee less likely to jump ship – saving you a lot of money and time.
Managing employees takes a lot of time – but the effects of having a highly engaged, enthusiastic and skilled workforce will do your company benefits in the long-term.
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