One positive outcome of the pandemic has been the heightened status of hourly workers. Hourly employees now have more choices for when and where they work, forcing HR and talent acquisition leaders to rethink the employee experience for their nonsalaried workers.
In the U.S. last year, 73.3 million workers age 16 and older were paid hourly — representing 55.5% of all U.S. wage and salary workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many, if not most, of those workers are the customer-facing brand ambassadors for their companies. Ironically, it was their customer-facing jobs that made it impossible for many hourly workers to work from home when the global economy shut down. Instead, they were let go. According to the Economic Policy Institute, hourly, low-wage earners experienced 80% of the overall U.S. jobs loss in 2020.
Because so many hourly workers are at the lower end of the pay scale, companies of course are boosting compensation to attract and retain top talent. In May 2021, Amazon announced it would hire 75,000 more hourly workers, offering a $1,000 signing bonus in some cases. McDonald’s has said it plans to hire 10,000 more hourly employees throughout the summer and will boost its average wage to $15 per hour by 2024.
Better Wages Can Only Go So Far to Woo Hourly Workers
It’s clear, however, that relying on increased wages simply isn’t sustainable. For example, as the Forbes Business Council reports, U.S. manufacturers are competing with global manufacturers on price, and global companies can typically charge lower wages than U.S.-based employers.
But there’s a bigger reason why raising wages won’t be enough to attract and hire the best among the hourly workforce. The new reality is that employers need to take workplace culture and the employee experience as seriously for their hourly workers as they do for salaried employees.
- Gallup research found that hourly workers are now significantly less satisfied than salaried employees with vacation time, retirement benefits, pay, safety conditions, job security, opportunities for promotion, health insurance benefits, recognition for accomplishments, and flexibility of hours.
- A satisfied and motivated employee today won’t typically take a new job for a modest pay increase, and they’re most concerned about their shift schedule, health and safety, and opportunities to advance and develop new skills, according to the United State’s largest blue-collar worker survey.
- A survey by Workplace Intelligence and MyWorkchoice of 2,000 U.S. HR leaders and hourly workers concluded that nearly all leaders (94%) and hourly workers (87%) believe hourly workers should receive the same, or some of the same, benefits as salaried employees.
Wellness: A Way to Easily Let Your Culture Flag Fly
One area where companies can readily and cost-effectively compete for hourly workers is in workplace wellness. The pandemic has already forced HR leaders early on to rethink wellness programs and strategies. One example was a trend to unlock and reallocate wellness dollars.
Now it’s important to circle back and make sure those programs are accessible to all employees — hourly and salaried alike. Remember, the hourly workforce bore the brunt of furloughs and layoffs during the pandemic. They’re going to be more attracted to a company with a culture of caring and a holistic view of employee wellbeing.
Wellness Apps: Able to Reach Anyone, Anywhere
Research based on responses from over 150 million employee surveys and over 30 million employee comments from Gympass users found employer interest in wellness apps rose during the pandemic — and with good reason. They give organizations a way to provide a more varied health and wellbeing offering.
Now, employers hoping to contend for the best hourly workers need to extend the same access to wellness apps to their nonsalaried workforce.
Don’t Forget About the Gym
Physical activity has been critical during the pandemic, especially for helping employees maintain their mental health. Nearly 43% of U.S. workers say physical activity was the single greatest support for their mental health over the last year, according to a Gympass survey of 1,000 U.S. employees over age 18.
Our survey also found that:
- 89% of respondents will stay as active or be more active after they return to the office
- 64.6% are excited to return to the gym
Companies seeking to win over hourly workers should be sure their wellness initiatives include gym and fitness center programs that meet the demands of shift work and geographic dislocation that are often the hallmarks of a nonsalaried job.
The bottom line is that you need a wellness platform that is truly flexible and accessible for the hourly workforce. It’s critical for providing programs that let anyone in the organization navigate their own wellbeing no matter where they work or what their hours are.