Hourly Service Worker Turnover Remains a Challenge

Employee churn remains an intractable problem, as any contact center supervisor can attest, particularly when it comes to workers paid by the hour. According to a recent survey conducted by The Aberdeen Group, companies have yet to fully embrace the potential benefits that automated hiring and performance management systems might bring to supervising the hourly worker. The Aberdeen report, "Managing the Hourly Workforce: The Benchmark Study--Hiring, Retention, and Performance Management," compiles responses from 223 companies that hire employees paid by the hour, who represent nearly 60 percent of the overall job market. The report's findings point to the following persistent trends in managing an hourly workforce:
  • hiring is often driven by current need, not by a strategic plan,
  • retention strategies are at best fragmented, and
  • performance evaluation is still tied to paper-based methodologies.
  • Despite the continuing difficulties, however, Katherine Jones, research director at Aberdeen and primary author of the report, says the findings also indicate that companies using technology in their hiring process are "seeing better-quality candidates, and shorter and less-expensive hiring cycles." Unfortunately, those companies are in the minority. Just 36 percent of respondents say they are currently using an automated hiring management system to hire hourly workers. Overall, 83 percent of the companies surveyed "either did not know the value of computer-based hiring management or did not see the value as compelling or strategic to their business." A divide remains between the focus on systems designed to automate the hiring process and those intended to gauge employee performance. Jones says she's not surprised: "People are more attentive right now to hiring. The idea that if they could hire better, they'd first, get a better employee and second, [get] one that wouldn't churn so fast. Less attention is being paid now to [what happens after] you get the person and how you groom them in a job." Jones says that automation has yet to really tackle the ongoing management of hourly employees. "Most performance management is still paper-driven, once-a-year, fill-it-out stuff, [which is] an obligation for salary review." She suggests that properly applied, performance management systems should have a positive impact. "The key point for [a] call center is, you need to look back at your performance-management systems as conditions change. When the parameters change you've got to be able to build that into the evaluation for 'good performance.' That's a degree of sophistication above where most performance management issues are today." The survey does show, however, that better employee-management systems are almost universally viewed as having a great impact on bottom-line results: Ninety-one percent of respondents say that improved management of employee performance can improve customer satisfaction. Eighty-nine percent says an employee-management system has the potential to achieve strategic competitive advantage for their enterprises. In the end, Jones says, both hiring and performance systems need to take into account the basic nature of the hourly wage earner. "Hourly workers are just a slippery lot," she says. "There's always a job for them somewhere." Related articles: Secrets to Hiring the Best Support Staffers Market Watch: Making Sense of Workforce Optimization Happy Employees Equal Happy Customers Companies can no longer afford to keep workforce management and CRM in separate silos.
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