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Over the past couple of years, many companies have focused on increasing applicant flow and decreasing time-to-hire. And for good reason — in February 2022, a whopping 4.35 million workers joined the Great Resignation movement and left their jobs in February, for a record of 5 million more job openings than job seekers. With more choices than ever, it’s become very difficult for companies to stand out to potential applicants, while current employees are leaving in droves.  

We can share plenty of strategies for increasing applicant flow, but anyone who hires hourly workers should also be thinking about how to keep these employees once you get them in a uniform.  
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index has shown that a significant portion of the workforce no longer feels like they’re getting what they need from their current employers. More than half (52%) of Millennials and Gen Zers are considering leaving their current jobs this year. The majority of the hourly workforce now have different expectations about their hiring and working experience than they would have before the pandemic.  

What do they want? There are the obvious perks like higher pay, better benefits, more work/life balance, but thinking about the bigger picture, these three factors heavily influence employees: 

  1. Mastery: Being educated about their role and seen as a leader (or given the opportunity to step up) 
  2. Autonomy: The ability to work in the way that best suits their needs  
  3. Purpose: A clear meaning to their work and understand the contributions they are making to the company, as well as society 

The hourly workforce is known for high turnover, and it’s expensive, too: the average cost of turnover per hourly employee is north of $4,000. It’s imperative that once you find good workers that you hold on to them. 

Why are Employees Leaving? 

While some of these factors are beyond an employers’ control, these are the top reasons why most people leave their job: 

  • Inadequate salary and benefits 
  • Feeling overworked/unsupported 
  • Limited career advancement 
  • A need for better work-life balance 
  • Lack of recognition 
  • Boredom 
  • Unhappy with management 
  • Concerns about the company’s direction or financial health 
  • Dissatisfaction with the company culture 
  • Better opportunities at other companies 

7 Ways to Improve Retention  

While some of the previously mentioned reasons for employee turnover are beyond your control (i.e. sometimes you can only afford to pay so much), there are plenty of other ways to entice employees to join your company — and stay once they do. 

Invest in their growth. Use evaluations to motivate employees and keep them accountable and on track. They should participate in goal setting so that you both have a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve within your company and how you can work together to make that happen.  

Reward work performance. If the expectation is that employees will deliver xyz, how do you show your appreciation for them when they do? Employees who feel appreciated and supported are overwhelmingly more likely to put in more effort and do better work. And that means everyone, from a cashier to a manager to a janitor — they all play an important role in the success of your business.

“You don’t build a business. You build people and people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar

Meet their needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is important to keep in mind when it comes to retaining employees. While not typically used to describe the workplace, this five-tier model shows how people must have their needs met at each step before they can even think about the next one. When you can ensure that your employees are well-paid and are able to take care of their families (physiological), they have job security (safety), experience love and belonging (part of the community and company culture), and feel confident in themselves and the role they play at your company (self-esteem),  they will do their best work. This benefits them, their family, your customers, and your bottom line. 


Develop your company culture. Your company has a culture whether you intentionally create it or not and that matters to your employees. It’s more than just a buzz phrase — Built In defines company culture as “a set of shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize an organization… It’s the way people feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going and what they’re doing to get it there. Collectively, these traits represent the personality — or culture — of an organization. A company’s culture influences results from top to bottom.”

Reduce friction during the onboarding process. From an easy application to a smooth onboarding process, this is your opportunity to show employees (and potential employees) that you value their time and input. In fact, it’s been shown that addressing professional development during the onboarding process increases employee satisfaction by 3.5x. Investing in communication and engagement throughout the onboarding process can improve their experience by 83% and those with a positive onboarding experience are 2.6x more likely to be “extremely satisfied” with their job.


Invest in team-building activities. Camaraderie is one way to help your employees feel a sense of belonging. Team-building activities also support collaboration and communication skills. For the hourly workforce, this could be opportunities (not requirements!) to socialize outside of work, challenges, quick activities at morning meetings, a compliment wall, etc. 

Encourage communication. Your employees should feel comfortable approaching management about ideas, questions, and concerns at any point. An open-door policy helps employees feel more engaged and involved, ensures consistent expectations across all team members, and promotes positivity. 

“Communications should be open and fast. From the application stage to the interview to hiring to day-to-day communications, you have to engage applicants and employees quickly and regularly or they’ll leave.” – Rich Crawford, CEO of TalentReef 

We’ve been helping customers streamline and automate their recruiting and onboarding processes for over a decade. Talk to an expert to see how TalentReef can make a difference for your business. 

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