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Salary vs. hourly shouldn’t translate into career-minded vs. marking time
Hourly employees, by their very definition, may convey a sense of impermanence, with their compensation tied directly to the amount of time they work in a given week or day. But with nearly 60 percent of the workforce being paid by the hour, how can managers develop relationships that will foster a sense of loyalty and commitment to the company?
“For some managers, it can be difficult to develop relationships with hourly employees, and there can be a bit of an unwritten two-tier system between [full-time] managers and hourly employees,” said Louie Shapiro, director of human resources at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, where Shapiro works with 350 employees. “Among the reasons this happens are that these two work groups may have different things in common and be at different places in life—for some hourly employees, their work is a job and for some managers, their work is a career. These can be two very different perspectives.”
And that can spell trouble for employers and HR managers as well as for hourly workers, specialists say. If management doesn’t develop an environment where hourly workers feel part of the team—even if they are not on the same compensation level as salaried employees—“the employee has to look for another job, and the employer has to do more recruiting,” said Joshua Ostrega, the chief operating officer and founder of WorkJam, a Montreal-based employee relationship management firm. Not only do companies face increased costs from hiring and training replacement workers, but “If the employer is constantly dealing with turnover and retention issues, the customer experience suffers,” he said.
The key to avoiding this is engagement, said Marc Husain, the vice president of Raleigh, N.C.-based VMS PeopleFluent, a human capital management technology company. It’s important to make hourly workers feel connected to the company. That means using e-mail, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to stay in touch with employees, especially seasonal workers the company hopes will return when needed. “If you don’t have the pieces in place to value that workforce, you will be starting all over again,” Husain said.
HR experts offered the following advice:
And remember that fostering loyalty among hourly employees can help managers build successful careers as well. Last year, workers at supermarket chain Market Basket in Massachusetts walked off the job to demand the return of fired executive Arthur T. Demoulas because they said he had always put his employees and customers first. Demoulas got his post back, Saba noted.
Susan Milligan is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
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