Do employers take hourly workers for granted? 3 ways to prevent engagement problems

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The turnover rate among hourly workers is a whooping 49% on average, according to some research. When turnover is that high, it almost always means engagement is precipitously low.

And in many cases, engagement among hourly workers is suffering because execs tend to focus their efforts on salaried staffers and, in particularly bad cases, actually look at hourly workers as a renewable resource that can always be replaced.

That’s a mistake for many reasons, especially when you consider hourly employees make up nearly 60% of the U.S. workforce.

So how can HR help improve the engagement problem among hourly staff? Here are three tactics, courtesy of TLNT’s Rob Seay:

1. Make the job meaningful

Like salaried staffers, hourly workers need to feel they’re contributing to the overall mission of the company; they need purpose.

Clear communication about your company’s organizational mission and how employees’ contribute to that is how this is accomplished. Specifically, HR should look to connect the dots between what hourly staff does on a daily basis and how those tasks impact the company’s overarching strategy.

2. Focus on manager-employee relationships

HR needs to keep in mind the adage “people leave managers, not companies.” If hourly employees can get even the most modest increase in pay somewhere else, managers and management style can make or break those staffers’ decisions to stay.

It doesn’t take much to have an impact either. One HR pro described walking around during third shift — a shift nobody really wanted to work — at a factory and letting staffers know he was available whenever they needed him as an invaluable relationship-building and engagement tactic.

3. Use (and credit) their expertise

When it comes to major changes in strategy, upper management tends to lean on salaried employees heavily. But here’s the thing, hourly workers tend to actually execute the strategy and are likely to have specific insight on how to improve day-to-day processes and fix problems and bottlenecks.

Many employers make the mistake of putting hourly employees into focus groups, implementing their suggestions and not giving them the credit and recognition they deserve. If upper management does decide to go with an hourly worker’s suggestion, give that worker the freedom to introduce the change on the ground level.

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