The Crucial First 6 Months: Strategies to Retain Your Hourly Workforce
Employers are struggling with retention on many fronts, but none are so acute as newly hired production, warehouse, and other hourly workers. Often times, newly hired workers do not make it past the first few weeks or months causing high turnover and stress on supervisors and managers.
MEA Managing Director of Talent Development & Coaching, Margaret Uhrich, recently facilitated an interactive forum among MEA Members to share challenges they are facing and strategies they are implementing to improve retention and engagement at the different stages of a new hire. Participants broke into small groups and enjoyed an open and interactive session designed to help everyone improve. Here are some of the ideas shared during the forum.
Hiring & Onboarding
Current Obstacles in Hiring
When asked to identify the biggest recruiting challenges and frustrations, participants had no difficulty coming up with many common issues:
- Difficulty in taking candidates through the screening process
- Difficulty in finding candidates in other regional territories
- Keeping jobs competitive
- Lack of skilled workers
- No-show interviewees due to low compensation
- Hard to find white collar positions (IT, engineers, business analysts)
- Many interview candidates look for quick increases in pay
Successful Hiring Sources
The groups were asked to identify successful hiring sources and practices. Here are some of their ideas:
- Employee Referral Programs with incentives
- Temporary Agencies (temp-to-hire model)
- University Partnerships
- Apprenticeships & Internships
- Jobsites like Indeed, ApplicantPro, CareerLink, Handshake, LinkedIn, and more.
- Sponsored ads with a focus on the benefits rather than the job description
- Friends and Family
Successful Onboarding Strategies
Participants had great ideas for improving onboarding:
- Emphasize your retention and reward programs in the early stages of new hire onboarding. One MEA Member uses the AI app AVA to gamify everyday employee tasks. Employees are rewarded with gift cards and additional compensation for meeting their goals.
- Implement a 1-day onboarding kick-off with Human Resources and necessary team members
- Provide lunch for new hires and their managers/work buddies on the first day of hire.
- Have new hires spend a couple of hours with each department to better understand your organization and business processes.
- Give your leaders templates to plan for their new hires first two weeks (i.e. stakeholder meet and greets).
- Provide self-paced continued onboarding training.
First 6 Months of New Hire
The general view is that retention dramatically improves after some time period. 6 months is often viewed as a key milestone.
Successful Strategies to Engage New Employees
- Provide 90-day sign-on bonuses.
- Schedule routine check-ins (i.e. after the first, 30, 90, 180, and 365 days of hire).
- Implement a “buddy program” where a new hire is matched with a seasoned employee.
- Introduce the new hire to all team leaders and members.
- Send out a welcome message to the new hire.
- Plan team building events (picnic, food trucks, ice cream socials, bowling, go-carting, holiday party, bingo, scavenger hunt, culture blending with cooking events, Phillies games, Hershey Park in Dark, BBQ’s, etc).
- Offer multiple shift options to create more flexibility.
- Give presents and gift cards given for special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc).
- Provide extended period referral bonuses.
- Facilitate culture training sessions to explain what your organization does, why it’s important, your company values, and benefits available to your employees.
- Implement recognition programs (team member of the month, employee of the quarter, employee of the year, employee impact awards, etc) where winners are rewarded with gift cards, pictures displayed somewhere in the office, and even PTO days.
- Conduct engagement surveys and stay interviews to combat attrition.
- Offer regularly scheduled mentoring and feedback sessions.
- Provide ongoing training to develop and grow your employees.
One final idea to keep employees during a downturn. Often, employers are forced to fire or furlough employees, which creates challenges when conditions improve. One participant shared their success with the Shared Work Program through the Pennsylvania Unemployment website. This program provides unemployment for employees with reduced hours. The Shared Work Program has helped them avoid layoffs and better retain their workforce.
MEA Members have access to our online community platform, where they can share ideas like this with other like-minded peers. If you would like to learn what other Members are doing to foster engagement and retention among hourly workers and share your own ideas, continue the conversation here.
To learn more about MEA, contact us today to schedule a consultation, help us understand your needs, and learn how we can help.