October 5, 2018

5 strategies to retain your young hourly workers

By Ryan Ashton

Categories: Retention

By Ryan Ashton


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The cost of losing workers just keeps climbing, and for businesses in the service industry, maintaining healthy employee retention is especially challenging.

Fast food restaurants in particular suffer one of the highest turnover rates at nearly 150%. That means a restaurant loses all of its employees in a year, along with half of its new employees. 

In a previous post, we outlined what it takes to attract today’s young workers. Once you’ve brought these workers on board, you want to minimize turnover and get the most out of your investment in these hires.

Here are five ways your business can lessen the likelihood of young workers heading for the door.

1. Keep them engaged and motivated

Many young workers have an entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of worrying about them running off to start their own business, tap into their ambition.

An easy way is to welcome your employees’ suggestions and give them the freedom to run with promising new ideas. When you notice workers taking initiative, tell them that you appreciate their efforts. A few words of encouragement can go a long way.

Another idea is to reward their curiosity by giving them the chance to try new things. It could be through simply taking on a new task or going so far as to try a different role. If the change isn’t working, position it as a learning moment. But if workers connect with a new role or activity, let them run with it.

2. Give them instant feedback

Millennials and Gen Z workers are used to communicating in real time, whether through texting, Tweeting, Snapchatting or countless other apps. At the same time, they aren’t big fans of hierarchies. They bring these preferences to the workplace, expecting their managers to tell them frequently and in the moment how they’re doing on the job.

Wondering how often you should give that feedback? Randstad’s Gen Z and Millennials Collide @ Work study shows that Gen Z and Millennials are receiving work performance reviews either daily (19%), weekly (24%) or regularly (23%) instead of annually (3%). So make it a habit to regularly recognize their accomplishments on the job and give them on-the-spot ideas for ways they can improve.

3. Show them a career path

The good news is that young workers are motivated to pursue their career ambitions. Support their aspirations – such as by giving them a hand with a development plan – and you give them a great reason to stick around. According to research by FSG and Hart Research Associates, young people are more than twice as likely to stay at their job for more than a year if they see their job as a career (or a stepping stone to one).

Looking for inspiration? Chipotle clearly outlines the career path for its entry-level employees. By highlighting promotion possibilities and what workers can expect in terms of pay and benefits at each stage of their progression, Chipotle’s gives its workers reasons to stay from day one. It’s no coincidence that 90% of the restaurant chain’s managers are promoted from within.

4. Provide them with a greater purpose

Today’s younger generation wants to know that their employer is doing its part to make the world a better place. In particular, Gen Z ranks a “boss they can respect” as a top priority. You can earn this respect by connecting your business to a greater purpose.

Here are a few ways you can help workers understand the link between how the business is run and its contribution to the world beyond your doors:

  • Underscore the impact of your recycling efforts.
  • Highlight your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Spell out how you contribute to your employees’ higher education – ultimately laying the foundation for them to further develop into professionals who contribute to society.
  • Put a spotlight on your contributions to a charity.

Promote any and all of these initiatives in your onboarding and remind workers continually through workplace communications.   

5. Pay them for each day’s work

All these retention ideas are well-intentioned. But even the best work environment won’t make up for employees who find it hard to pay their bills. Sixty-one percent of the young workers surveyed by FSG and Hart Research Associates said they’ve struggled at work because they had a hard time making ends meet.

No wonder many shift workers and hourly wage earners often feel forced to pay bills with a credit card or by borrowing money from friends or family. Some even resort to getting a payday loan.

You can ease that stress by offering a real-time pay option. Our own research shows that many workers prefer getting paid on the same day they work as long as there are no associated fees; forty percent of young workers even say they would stay longer at the job if offered a no-fee instant pay option.

Of course, this does not substitute a fair wage for the work your employees put in, but a real-time pay option is a simple way to inspire your workers to feel good about you as an employer as you give them an instant financial boost.

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