The hourly workforce continues to grow. It accounts for 58.7 percent of the U.S. workforce and 80 percent of all hires each year. It’s clear that these employees have skills, education, and knowledge that employers desperately need — but, the typical approach to performance management is designed for salaried employees and it’s not a philosophy that is always applied as rigorously to hourly employees because of the assumed high turnover in this segment of the workforce. There is also the “they’re only seasonal” rationale, which causes organizations to skip investing the time to have performance conversations with their hourly staff at all. That’s okay, because this group of employees typically has a different set of needs and wants, but does it mean you shouldn’t be doing anything at all? I don’t think so, and I’ll tell you why.
They’re not all looking to leave.
While there are some members of the hourly workforce who seek temporary work to pay their bills while pursuing other interests, nearly a third see their hourly jobs as the start of a career path with the companies they work for. And, with the cost of recruitment so high, doesn’t it make good business sense for you to focus on retaining those employees who want to grow with the organization? Investing in your existing workforce by having relevant performance conversations can go a long way toward understanding the needs of your hourly staff, giving real time feedback and communicating opportunities for growth. Investing time in your current staff, and being able to promote from within when there are opportunities, is a great way to boost company morale and retain your best employees. Also, just think of the recruiting, hiring, and training cost savings you can drive with this approach.
You don’t have to use the exact same process.
We have all heard it time and time again — performance reviews are seen as an HR compliance exercise instead of an opportunity to have open, honest, and regular discussions with employees to engage them in a two-way dialogue about their performance. Traditional approaches to performance management are indeed ineffective for many organizations with a high-volume hourly workforce. It’s important to remember, though, that we don’t have to take a one-size-fits-all approach to performance management in our companies. Take a poll or even use a suggestion box to discover what your employees want in a review process. Ask your managers what they need to better manage their teams. These key data points can reveal key needs and be used in developing a successful performance review structure. Maybe an annual review cycle isn’t relevant for this group, and maybe an hour-long conversation about competency goals and progress against career objectives doesn’t make sense either. But what about crafting some short-term goals or incentives tied to monthly shift productivity? What about recognizing employees for saving time or costs? What if employees had access to a scorecard or dashboard where they could see their rating at any given time and why it may be fluctuating up or down. There are a lot of ways to think about performance as an ongoing experience rather than one or two anxiety-causing meetings per year. Launching a new performance program that focuses on continuous feedback and employee engagement is the first step.
What message are you sending?
Managers have the greatest impact on employee engagement — regardless of worker type. If your managers aren’t taking the time to connect with their employees on an individual basis, what kind of message does that send to the employee? Yes, this can be a time-consuming process but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure your managers have the tools, data, and insights they need to be more effective in their conversations with hourly staff. A flexible, in-the-moment, data-driven approach to performance that enables your managers to continuously assess, coach, and recognize these employees for their achievements against a set of goals and standards that are relevant to their job can make a major difference when it comes to engaging, developing, and retaining your hourly employees.
How we’re paid shouldn’t matter.
If you don’t have a performance management process in place for your hourly employees, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to implement an approach that will help you engage and retain the talent you need to achieve your business goals and make your organization successful.
Seasonal or not, hourly employees are vital to the frontline operation of so many organizations — they’re your salesperson on the store floor, your machine worker in a manufacturing plant, a nurse in the hospital, and even a law enforcement officer on the street.
No need to throw out your entire performance management approach —you just need to shift your strategy, think outside the box a little, and include all of your employees.