With the advent of more flexible, tech-enabled work practices across all industries, workers are gaining–and expecting–more flexibility and autonomy than ever before. We explain flexible hiring and more.
As workers gain more skills and know-how by exercising this autonomy, it’s crucial for businesses to tap this new talent pool and to retain effective employees.
There are three things that keep a flexible worker coming back: trust, engagement, and compensation. In the face of ongoing labour shortages, those words have taken on a different meaning. Employers are in a multi-industry wide race to redefine their offerings in hopes of answering the new needs of an after-crisis workforce.
Those who are able to do so in good time, and in the proper order of investment, will see outsized engagement and return.
Starting on the right foot: a digital recruitment orientation
A reported 45% of job seekers are using mobile apps in their job search every day. Mobile networking platforms not only streamline the search and make it portable, but they also connect job seekers to a community of other candidates, recent hires, and people with experience in similar roles.
It’s important for companies to have a voice in that conversation and to ensure that they position their role offerings in a visible and compelling way. In the contemporary working world, visibility means digital visibility: companies will need to consider the kind of mobile experience that they are offering to their users.
When people get their first impression of a business through a screen, seemingly insignificant details can become major hindrances.
When mobile application processes require applicants to go through redundant steps—like typing out a resume after it’s already been digitally uploaded—candidates lose trust and esteem for the company. Minor oversights at this stage can add up to much more than the sum of their parts.
Similarly, the more steps that stand in between a candidate and their first day on the job, the less likely the company is to see a high volume of applicants. References, drug tests, and long, multi-step interview processes have shown to be more harmful than helpful.
They’ve become antiquated methods of assessment and often fail to predict how a worker will be able to perform their actual role.
Finally, it’s important to add a personal touch to the hiring process. Searching for a job can be an intimidating experience no matter what, and these difficulties are only amplified by the often impersonal character of digital interactions.
A recent study found that companies who provide a corporate video along with their job posting see a 34% uptick in applicant volume; strategies like this help prospective employees get more insight into the human side of the business, making them more likely to want to join a team.
Employee training: smarter, earlier
Once talented hourly workers have applied and been accepted for the role, the focus shifts away from recruitment and toward retention.
Retention is really a function of employee engagement; disengaged employees are more likely to feel frustrated within their roles, confused about their duties, and more likely to feel dissatisfied with the work.
The best experience an employee can have within their role is one of confidence, and confidence comes from competence.
Training, then, is an important first area of focus. Increasingly, companies are making staggered investments into digital training tools that will help give new contingent workers a sense for the role before they show up. This results in an earlier feeling of confidence, and a less daunting onboarding process.
The sooner the employee feels a part of the team, the better, and they start to feel that way when they gain the confidence that they’ll know how to do the job.
For every 1,000 employees in the workforce, ineffective training methods cost employers a whopping $13.5 million every year. Training isn’t a place for cutting corners. Digital training technologies can help the experience come to life.
VR and AR-based onboarding programs can help new workers get realistic exposure to workplace processes from the comfort of their home. Even a simple video series can give them a sense for the working environment before they first arrive.
Finally, it’s important to expand the definition of training and think about workplace training in a holistic way. 60% of employees believe that their manager needs more training, which makes it hard to have an open dialogue for feedback and accountability.
The workplace is changing rapidly, and new technologies are being introduced at a mind-bending pace. It’s important that a company is investing in training at all levels of employee seniority.
Compensation for a comeback
Previously, employers conducted competitive audits that considered the rate offerings of peer companies in their industry in order to gauge how their own compensation compared. The disruption of the pandemic has changed everything about employee expectations.
When entire industries seemed like they would be put on pause with in-person restrictions, workers became used to the notion of going across industry verticals to find work in a different sector.
In that exploration, many of them learned that they had more options for employment than they thought, and they could explore other sectors with success if they weren’t happy with their current working conditions.
As a result, company leaders need to not only take into account rate changes within their industry, but also within the workforce at large. Roles with similar requirements and prerequisites are competitive, even if they cross the traditional barriers of catering vs. manufacturing, or food and beverage vs. hospitality.
Luckily, there’s been a trend toward flexible hiring and transparency, and market reports are coming out offering a transparent look at wage averages within cities and across industries. Employers need to make sure they’re taking this data into account when they’re considering their role offerings.
Taking the transparency commitment one step forward, it’s important that job offerings include all details about hourly rates, benefits, and signing or performance bonuses.
For most people, the pressure to compelling work after the pandemic is acute, and workers deserve to have all the information at hand as they conduct their search and ultimately make their decision.
A return of power in three steps
In our pre-pandemic reality, flexible work came with a series of rules and restraints. But when most of the workforce went remote throughout the height of the pandemic, a conversation around flexible hiring opened up regarding how our work lives are coexisting with our personal wellbeing and priorities.
To that end, a number of problem areas have come to the surface; areas that employers will be well-advised to address.
The first opportunity employers have to put the power back in their employee’s hands is to offer no work-minimums. Traditional staffing agencies offer hourly workers a minimum amount of shift work to be completed on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. But work minimums have proved counterproductive.
They’re intended to improve a company’s access to competent, contingent workers, but in practice, staffing platforms and employers who have done away with work minimums are seeing less employee turnover and higher than average show rates.
Today, workers have a series of competing priorities—family, concurrent educational degrees, and second jobs. Work minimums take many applicants out of the running, since they know they won’t be able to balance the role with their other commitments.
But without that blanket minimum, more talent would be available to apply and execute the role as they see fit, causing an uptick in candidates for the company in the short and long-term.
The second form of worker autonomy that a company can offer comes in the form of worker-led scheduling. If candidates and existing employees can reclaim full agency over their work schedule, they’re more likely to be engaged, motivated, and more available for work than they would be otherwise.
Mobile apps can easily support an adaptive and collaborative schedule. An investment into self-led scheduling also takes the imperative to balance availability and role swapping off of the manager’s hands.
The result is a more streamlined and more satisfying process; a must-have for a competitive employment experience going forward.
With an integrated and accessible scheduling system, employees can add on another incredible worker benefit: same-day compensation. In the past, the accounting expenses involved with immediate worker payment would be a barrier to entry for most employers.
But third-party apps and mobile payment solutions are making it easier than ever. Along with a needed increase in compensation, same-day pay can go a long way to earn employee trust.
Not only does it offer more financial freedom but reducing the wait time between payment periods, it also fosters a tangible sense of trust and alignment between the work that needs doing and the compensation that results.
For hourly workers who are juggling schedules and working to recover some room on their payments, which may have become a more difficult task through the trying times of COVID-19, receiving same-day pay can make a world of difference.
The evergreen need for reward and recognition
Negative emotion, dwindling energy, decline of mental health and feelings of isolation—these are all symptoms of workplace burnout, a condition that as many as 76% of employees report that they’ve experienced.
Watershed events like COVID-19 can often produce the same psychological experience, making an already burned out employee experience symptoms that are much worse.
Flexible hiring, accessible role offerings, self-led scheduling, proper compensation and fast pay all go a long way toward reducing burnout in the workforce. But the human need for reward, recognition, connection, and appreciation aren’t going anywhere—and might have been in short supply during our socially distanced time.
It doesn’t take much to create a culture in which employees feel like they’re a part of their team, and like they’re valued for the ways in which they’re able to uniquely contribute. 50% of employees have reported that a simple thank you from their employers is enough to create an improvement in their relationship and a sense of trust.
Like most things that workers have been asking for during the Great Resignation, a little bit of investment into reward and recognition can go a really long way. Wage raises might be the most profound barrier for employers, but those too are comparably small compared to the cost of no-shows, unfilled roles, and never-ending employee turnover.
HR experts estimate that even for a managerial position, at an average salary of $40,000, the cost to recruit and train a new team member can easily be between $20,000 and $30,000.
Further, every instance of turnover could further impair the current company culture. Small investments into the employee experience that are made at the very beginning easily add up to much more than their original cost.
In short, workers can take a few purposeful steps toward creating a better experience for their contingent workers.
Flexible hiring, beginning with onboarding, having a digital presence and a streamlined applications process, without the unnecessary road blocks of drug and reference tests, will make it easier for candidates to explore work with the company.
By offering in-depth training experiences from the beginning, there’s a greater chance they’ll feel competent, confident, and engaged earlier in their experience.
From there, ensuring that the compensation offered is competitive across industries is a new post-COVID imperative. Adding to that the ability to work without a minimum amount of hours in the week, employees will be in the right position to properly balance their own work and life priorities.
To help them do that, self-led scheduling is an effective and easy offering, taking work away from managers and allowing employers to cover for one another or take on extra shifts as they see fit.
Finally, pairing those offerings with same-day pay, made easy through third-party solutions, gives them a financial freedom and an employer trust that will be hard for other employers to replace.
The cumulative result of those changes will be a contingent workforce that finds joy, purpose, and competence in their day-to-day work, along with balance, potential, and financial empowerment in their post-COVID lives.
This is how the workforce is designed to function at its best, and taking steps toward each of these changes will set any company in the right direction; before long, contingent workers will follow in their steps.
About the Author
Steve Anevski is the CEO and Co-Founder of Upshift, an industry-leading staffing platform that connects businesses with pre-vetted W2 employees. Backed by Recruit Holdings Inc., Upshift has a success rate over double the industry standard.