Talent mobility: Are you finding the changemakers in your hourly workforce?

Hourly employee working at cafe standing masked behind counter

When most think about talent mobility, the process of shifting current employees to different positions where they can bring more value, salaried employees tend to get thought of first. Yet according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hourly employees make up more than half (55.5%) of the total national workforce. Overlooking people in hourly roles when it comes to talent mobility can only hurt organizations, especially these days when we are experiencing both a shift in the workforce’s desire to acquire new skills and pursue meaningful work and an unprecedented number of open positions waiting to be filled.

Organizations that put just as much effort into identifying and developing high performing hourly employees will only benefit from increased performance, lower turnover, and the ability to better attract and retain top talent. So how does HR go about doing that, and how is it different than developing salaried team members?

What does an hourly changemaker look like?

Assuming that people will proactively approach their managers when they're looking for growth will likely result in a lost opportunity to retain and develop promising talent. If you don’t want to miss out, you and your managers need to be proactive and look for patterns of high performance. For example, are there employees that are reliable, always on time, and don’t call out last minute? How about employees who ambitiously pick up extra shifts or cover other employee’s shifts? What about those who are constantly helping colleagues or receive positive feedback from colleagues or even customers? These are some promising indicators that warrant a closer look.

Wondering how you can capture these insights? Well, the right HCM technology can be a powerful asset in not only helping you gain powerful insights like the ones mentioned above, but automate and reduce administrative burden around tracking those performance indicators and, more importantly, proactively provide you with those insights. These insights are especially powerful when you're identifying high performing hourly employees — all that shift data you collect and the patterns that come out of it can be useful in assessing reliability, tracking engagement, and even predicting when someone is likely to leave or fatigued.

Alright, so now that we have an idea of what we're looking for, how do we actually build up and develop our hourly changemakers? Here are three ideas:

Recognize them

Once you’ve identified top performers, recognize them — this is a win for both your people and your organization. As a matter of fact, a recent study by the Workforce Institute found that companies are 88 percent more likely to perform well financially when their employees feel heard, are engaged, and have a sense of belonging. How you recognize your employees can be as simple or creative as you choose. It could be an informal shout out from a manager at the start of a shift or, if you wanted to add a little friendly competition to motivate others, you could also use your HR technology to set up a leaderboard and have it automatically update based on points awarded when certain actions are taken (think the high performance indicators discussed above). Whichever route you take, just ensure that your approach is consistent and your employees feel appreciated.

Ask them what they want

Reach out to top performers and ask them about their ambitions and career goals — get a sense if those align with any opportunities available within your organization. If there is an opportunity for additional development, ask if they would like to take on additional responsibility and be transparent as to what that would look like in both the short and longer term. Remember to frame this conversation in terms of what your people value, giving them a clear idea of what the added responsibility could lead to for them, why they're getting recognized as a good candidate for the opportunity, and what benefits they will get out of the process, whether those come in the form of recognition, a pay increase, or other value currencies.

Create a development plan

When you identify people in your organization who want to grow, provide them with the opportunity to do so with a clear development plan. This plan should be personalized and outline practical steps for how the employee can get from point A to point B — whether that's through training, onsite shadowing, or even participating in a mentoring program. However, it’s not enough to simply provide a roadmap, you need to check in often to provide feedback as well as encouragement and ensure that they are feeling energized by their progress.

If you've got the right HR system in place, you should be able to use the same frameworks you use for onboarding to automatically lay this plan out for your people. You should even consider some kind of reboarding plan that helps them adjust to the expectations of their new expanded role, especially if they'll be shifting where they work, becoming more of an in-person or remote employee, and other similar considerations.

Conclusion: Don't miss out on top hourly performers

Don’t overlook your hourly workforce when it comes to talent mobility, this could be a missed opportunity to increase performance, lower turnover, and attract and retain top talent. Don’t wait for employees to ask for development opportunities but rather use technology to proactively track indicators of high performance within your hourly workforce and surface those employees. Recognize them in a group setting but also reach out to then individually and get a better understanding of what their career goals are. If their goals sync up to available development opportunities, offer those up to them. Ensure that a clear development plan is discussed that shows how they can reach the goals you set. Lastly, keep the lines of communications open and check in with your employees often to ensure they are feeling good about where they are in their development.

And remember, throughout this journey your HR technology can be a major advantage in terms of getting repeatable processes in place. If you need help finding the right solution, we're here for you. Check out our HCM Buyer's Guide to see all the key questions you need to ask.

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