Why Can’t You Hire Enough Hourly Workers?

Employee Benefit NewsBY Employee Benefit News
October 3rd, 2023 • 2 Minutes

EBN: Why Can’t You Hire Enough Hourly Workers.

The frontline and hourly workforce keeps much of the economy afloat — and employers who are struggling to retain this talent pool are starting to sweat. The solution, however, may be simpler than they think.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of U.S. job openings recently hit 10 million, most of which are made up of positions in hourly sectors like retail and warehousing. Nearly a quarter of frontline employers are experiencing over 30% turnover, and 60% reported at least a turnover of more than 10%, according to research from recruiting platform Fountain

“Everyone has read about all of the layoffs and how companies are slowing down and worried about the economy, but that’s primarily in the knowledge-worker universe,” says Sean Behr, CEO at Fountain. “When it comes to the stores and the warehouses and the hospitals, there is no slowdown whatsoever. The economy is roaring for them.”

Read more: How managers can help frontline workers feel safe on the job

The key to understanding this shortage may come down to recruiting strategies. According to Fountain’s survey, 70% of employers use the same hiring process for hourly and white-collar workers; 90% believe a resume is important for hourly workers and 65% said they spend at least some of their time reviewing cover letters.

“The hourly worker has never had more opportunities,” Behr says. “It used to be that a fast food restaurant just had to compete with other fast food restaurants. But now they’re competing with DoorDash or Uber or Amazon. So the hourly worker has way more options to make money, but the need to fill the shift in the warehouse is the same. In fact, it’s higher. And it’s hard to square those two things.”

Eighty to 90% of hourly and frontline workers are actively looking easy-to-apply for jobs on their phones or their tablets, according to Fountain. Yet 62% of employers are still depending on in-person interviews, and only 6% of companies primarily source candidates through social media platforms like LinkedIn. A bulky recruiting process paired with over selectivity is the perfect storm for keeping a fast-paced workforce from applying to jobs.

Read more: The right tech can streamline workflow, helping employees excel

“It’s a myth that a good resume is a strong predictor of who’s going to work great on the frontlines,” Behr says. “Having selectivity is important, but it needs to move later in the process. Keep your net open at the early part of the process so you reduce the barriers and the hurdles and enable more people to apply for your job. Then when you’ve got 10 people that are pretty good you can bring in the selection criteria and try to whittle it down to the five best, for instance.”

The current system has created an unsustainable cycle that will cost a company employees, customers and money in the long run. Instead, Behr suggests making simple changes to the applicant experience,  such as making sure to get back to an application in a matter of hours instead of days, and sending personalized emails or texts after talking to strong candidates.

“You have to have a good welcome mat,” he says. “That includes everything from making sure that your branding is right, that you’re attracting the people, that you’re making sure it’s very easy to start working and that you’re making a great first impression. It’s the simplest things that go further in terms of value.”

This article originally appeared in EBN and was written by Paola Peralta, Associate Editor at EBN. It is being reposted with permission.

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