Current estimates suggest that around 20 and 33 percent of the workforce is composed of contingent workers (part-timers, casual workers, freelancers, etc.). This figure could reach 50 percent by 2020. This change in the makeup of the workforce results from the recent trend toward building flexible workforces. Employing contingent workers is seen as the best way to achieve this end.
The problem is that many employers have not really followed through on their efforts to build flexible workforces. These employers are using outdated staff-engagement strategies, ones that are centered around full-time workers almost exclusively. These strategies often neglect part-timers, leaving them disengaged.
Now that the contingent workforce has grown and will continue to grow, companies will more acutely feel the effects of disengaged part-timers. This discontent will manifest itself in noticeably higher staff attrition rates across among part-time workers. Overall productivity levels may suffer dramatically, too, if you neglect your part-timers.
If employers want to maximize the productivity of their hourly and part-time workers, they can no longer afford to treat them like afterthoughts. Instead, they’ll need to develop employee engagement strategies that motivate and retain part-timers. Here are a few such strategies:
1. Give Hourly Workers More Financial Predictability
Many hourly and part-time workers hate the lack of predictability in their schedules. Their shifts change constantly, from week to week and even day to day. This lack of predictability often hits part-timers right in the wallet: a particularly busy week may give way to a meager one, with wildly different paycheck resulting from each.
Several states have passed legislation that bars employers from hiring additional part-time workers if current workers want more hours. This is seen as a way to protect hourly workers and provide more predictability to their wages.
If your state doesn’t already legislate for this, you can always voluntarily adopt a similar policy. Show loyalty to existing part-timers, and you’ll gain their loyalty in return.
2. Provide More Advanced Notice of Hourly Work
Research shows that 52 percent of retail workers know their schedules less than a week in advance, while 20 percent of workers get their schedule less than three days in advance. This makes it very hard for many part-time workers to have healthy work-life balance.
Of course, one of the major benefits that part-time workers bring to a business is flexibility, allowing employers to build up or slim down their workforces as need. But, when schedules become too unpredictable for hourly staff to manage, reliability and loyalty will decline, creating big problems for a business.
If you want engaged, productive part-timers on your staff, you have to get the balance right. Do everything you can to provide more notice of work schedules to your employees. Doing so will likely result in higher levels of satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
3. Create an Enjoyable Job and Fun Environment
Research from the Institute of Leadership & Management shows that part-time workers are less motivated by money than full-timers. Instead, part-timers are more motivated by how much they enjoy their jobs and how well they get on with their colleagues.
Do your best to create a fun and enjoyable environment, one that enables employees to be happy while they work. Consider arranging regular, partially subsidized work socials for employees to attend, too. Build an exciting, friendly, and rewarding work environment, and your part-time employees will be much more likely thrive.
4. Gamify the Workplace
Hourly workers aren’t generally as motivated by opportunities for promotion as full-time workers are. Other, more immediate motivators may be more effective in engaging part-time workers.
One such approach that has proved effective is gamification, where work is turned into a kind of contest, complete with league tables, badges, and awards. The healthy competition generated by turning everyday work into a game can be highly motivational for part-time workers. In fact, LiveOps, a cloud-based call center employing thousands of hourly workers, saw a 23 percent increase in performance for call center workers when using gamification.
Any employer that takes part-time or hourly workers for granted may find a lot of discontent among the ranks, which drives down productivity and retention levels. While part-time workers have many of the same needs as full-timers, they also have many unique needs and preferences, as outlined above. In order to fully engage hourly and part-time workers, employers need to evolve engagement strategies that specifically address their needs, too.