Keys to Better Understanding the Hourly Workforce

In the current job seeker’s market, employers must find ways to connect with potential employees in order to effectively compete for and hire the right workers, according to Snagajob’s annual “State of The Hourly Worker” report.  Snagajob expects that hourly employers will hire more workers and provide them with fewer hour shifts to avoid paying overtime, when the new Final Rule takes effect in December. The United States currently has 78 million hourly workers, accounting for 60 percent of the entire workforce and 80 percent of all hires made in the U.S. each year.

Highlights from the report from the job search engine specializing in America’s hourly workforce including restaurant, retail and hospitality staffing include:

  • With 48 percent of workers expecting their job to last less than three years, tenures are shorter, workers take more of a “tour of duty” approach.
  • 88 percent of workers are open to working multiple jobs to get hours, making many workers “multi-affiliated.” They also want greater diversification.
  • The majority – 22.1 percent – of hourly workers are paid approximately $8-9 per hour. A third of hourly workers believe that figure should be $10. The next closest preferred minimum wage is $9 per hour, with 18.5 percent believing that should be the minimum wage.
  • 72 percent of workers use their mobile phone to find work; however, only 54 percent of employers post jobs that can be applied to on a smartphone.
  • 50 percent + of workers seeking employment don’t get a response from hiring companies which frustrates them, a call out to employers that communication is key.

Modern Restaurant Management magazine discussed the report’s findings with Snagajob CEO Peter Harrison.

What are things restaurant employers can do to better engage and retain employees?

The number one concern we hear from workers regarding employers is the lack of responsiveness during the application process. Too many either don’t get a response or the response is too slow. A brief and timely response goes a long way to enhancing the employer brand and also ensuring they recruit the best candidate. Also, as millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, engagement via mobile and messaging is increasingly the only way to go. Requiring people to have web access and email is increasingly narrowing your ability to connect and engage. In terms of retention, our survey told us hourly job seekers want more hours and/or more pay. While employers cannot always afford to raise wages, they can provide workers with more hours or greater flexibility with respect to these hours so they can better accommodate the worker’s schedule. They might also look to other benefits/perks that make the position more appealing.

What factors are influencing employers to not address rapid technological changes to attract talent?

Most employers are still paving the old cow-path: taking old, paper-based forms and assessment and simply putting them online because that is the easiest thing to do. This has brought increased efficiencies for them, but has had minimal impact on seekers and has ignored many of the advances new mobile technologies enable, such as voice, video, location, data and security. This is particularly onerous for the growing number of job seekers who need to find multiple jobs to make up a full workweek, and yet enjoy no greater efficiencies. Employers are moving forward, but not fast enough.

Peter Harrison
Peter Harrison

The shift to mobile has been most dramatic. We’ve seen use of mobile for job-search go from under 10 percent of searches to almost 70 percent in the last three years. Mobile devices offer the opportunity to completely reinvent the job seeker and hiring experience, collapsing what used to take days and weeks into hours or even minutes. Employers that can make the hiring process this simple, enjoyable and fast without compromising quality or accuracy, will enjoy a giant advantage over their competition in the short term. In the longer term, firms that don’t make their hourly hiring truly mobile-first and near real time put their business at risk.

What are other ways employers can better compete for top talent?

We know that workers want shift preferences and higher wages. In fact, this year’s survey shows that when considering a job, 65.7 percent of hourly employees want competitive pay and 65.4 percent of hourly employees want enough hours⎼the latter up from 41 percent in 2015. Additionally, hourly workers want to grow. Our survey shows 56 percent consider opportunities for growth when looking for a job, which is nearly a 25 percent increase from last year. In addition to more hours, more pay and growth opportunities, hourly workers seek workplace perks like the freedom to wear what they want to work and VIP vouchers that offer workplace discounts. By offering benefits that play to the wants and needs of hourly workers, employers can stay ahead of the competition, hiring and retaining top talent.

What challenges do you see facing the restaurant industry in regards to hiring and keeping staff?

Everything points to the need for more and smarter hiring. With the new overtime pay rule, employers may be faced with scaling back hours of current workers and hiring additional staff. On top of that, many employers find it challenging to receive quality resumes as the talent pool continues to shrink. This is where adopting a mobile recruiting process – to attract the best talent quickly – and offering benefits and incentives will be critical.

How do you anticipate looming overtime regulations will change/affect your findings?

Our survey found that workers want more hours and are willing to work multiple jobs to get them. I anticipate the new overtime work regulations will only accelerate this trend. We anticipate employers will want to reduce employee hours to reduce the likelihood of triggering overtime and they will likely hire more workers to avoid these excess costs. On the worker side, they will still want more hours and more pay, though they may have to take on additional jobs to achieve this.

Why do you feel hourly workers were not studied as a group before?

Hourly workers, while contributing a relatively small portion of gross domestic product (GDP), make up almost half of all workers in the U.S. and over 80 percent of all hires made each year. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about hourly workers. In fact, I recently wrote a blog about it. With unemployment low, voluntary employee turnover increasing, and with the rise of the ‘gig economy,’ it is clear that the current employment market is entering a period of profound change and the scope and reach of the hourly economy is only going to grow. At Snagajob, we believe more research and analysis on these trends can help us identify what hourly job seekers need to increase their growth potential and maximize their income.

What were findings that surprised you?

The most surprising part were the trends – the percentage of workers who consider enough hours went up by nearly 60 percent and those in favor of raising the minimum wage increased by almost 12 percent. And this is all in the last year!

Why should keeping employees “happy” be such a concern for employers?

The biggest pain point employers have is hiring. The biggest way to reduce this pain is to reduce turnover. The best way to reduce turnover is by keeping employee “happy”. Also, happy employees are more productive and when customer-facing, will drive more business.

Why is flexibility more important to Millennials?

Millennials – who already make up more than 50 percent of the national workforce and will make up almost 75 percent of this workforce by 2025 – are driving workforce trends and forcing us to modify traditional views of company engagement, loyalty and even retirement. 91 percent of them expect to have 15-20 jobs over the course of their lives. They think more of tours-of-duty than they do jobs. They are also increasingly more comfortable juggling multiple jobs. These social and digital natives push employers to re-think how they engage and connect with employees. Goodbye: full benefits, silo-ed competition, and predictability. Welcome: passion, relationships, variety, coworking, and frequent change. Employers can help retain Millennial workers by offering workplace benefits like flexibility, something we see of particular interest to this demographic. This provides them the freedom and flexibility to pursue projects, interests and activities for which they are passionate and where possible find a better work/life balance.


To download the full report, click here.

Snagajob commissioned Loyalogy to conduct an online survey of full- and part-time hourly wage earners. More than 1,000 online interviews were conducted between February 10 and 15 of this year.