5 Tips for Keeping Your Hourly Workers Motivated and Engaged

Woman dressing a mannequin inside a retail store

Many businesses across Australia rely on hourly workers—especially those in the retail and hospitality industries. And as many of these businesses continue to see an increase in customer demand due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it’s important that their hourly workers are motivated and engaged to help them meet their customers’ needs.

But, with many hourly workers employed on a casual or part-time basis, how do you keep them motivated and engaged to perform at their best and hopefully, stay long-term at your business? While you may not be able to provide benefits such as a kitchen full of snacks, weekly happy hours, or other benefits that are often cited as ways to keep employees engaged, there are other steps you can take to prioritise the engagement and happiness of your hourly workers at your business.

1. Communicate regularly and efficiently

First and foremost, it’s important to regularly communicate with your hourly workers, especially since their schedules may differ each week. This can help your employees stay in the loop with what’s going on in the business and feel more connected to their work. If all of your hourly workers are never in at the same time, consider creating a group chat where you can keep everyone informed and up to date. Otherwise, weekly or daily team meetings with your employees can be another great way to ensure you are in constant communication with your team.

2. Create an environment of trust and respect

Your hourly workers are likely to perform at their best when they’re working in a trusting and respectful environment. So, just as you would expect your employees to be honest with you about mistakes they make, or let you know ahead of time when they are running late, it’s important that you are also honest with them.

Show your hourly workers that you respect them and their time by letting them know about any last-minute changes to their schedules, or additional tasks that they need to perform. Avoid micromanaging, as this shows that you don’t trust your employees, which can not only result in them feeling resentful towards you, but can also be harmful to your employees’ mental and physical health.

Try to involve your hourly workers in as many decision making and idea creation activities as possible. This shows your employees that you respect them and their opinions and consider them as an integral part of the business—which can help your employees feel more committed to their jobs and the business’ objectives.

3. Offer consistency and certainty in scheduling

One of the best ways to prioritise the happiness of your hourly workers is by providing more certainty around their work schedules. This is especially important if their schedules change on a weekly, or monthly, basis or if they are often called into work without much notice. The uncertainty around when they will be working and how many shifts they will be receiving each week, or month, can result in increased stress and poor work-life balance.

Consider giving your hourly workers consistent schedules that don’t vary much from week to week (or month to month). If this is not possible, give your employees the opportunity to voice their preferred days and hours and try to adhere to those as much as possible. Giving your hourly workers consistent schedules can help improve their work-life balance, which research has shown can improve morale and productivity.

4. Provide opportunities for advancement

While some of your hourly workers may be university students who are there to simply pay their bills, don’t assume that all of your employees aren’t in it for the long haul. Have an open and honest conversation with all of your hourly workers to see what their career goals are and whether there’s a role for them at your business. Even if some of your employees view their role as temporary, inform them of any opportunities for advancement that may arise.

If you can provide career development opportunities for your employees, such as training courses or tuition reimbursement, let them know. This can help your hourly workers view their jobs as more of a career and possibly stay long term at your business.

5. Regularly recognise and reward employees

With 16%1 of job seekers deciding to look for new job opportunities when they don’t get recognised for their accomplishments in their current role, regularly recognising your hourly workers for their hard work is imperative to prevent turnover. If you are in a position to be able to provide regular monetary bonuses, this can be a great way to reward your employees, boost morale and improve productivity.

If this is not possible, consider putting other benefits up for grabs as incentive. For example, providing hard-working employees with an extra day of annual leave, a week where they get to choose their own schedule, or even a day where they get to order lunch on the business’ tab can be great ways to keep hourly workers engaged and motivated in their roles.

But, don’t underestimate the value of a simple verbal or written recognition. Sending an email or text message to employees thanking them for their hard work, or recognising an employee for an accomplishment during your daily or weekly team meetings can also be great ways to boost morale and happiness within your hourly workers.

It’s important to recognise the critical role hourly workers play in many Australian businesses, and address their needs to ensure they are engaged and happy in their roles. From communication, to providing opportunities for advancement, to recognising your employees for their hard work— with these tips, you can not only create an environment where your employees can thrive and grow, but also your business.

1Indeed survey with Decipher/FocusVision, N=1,000

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