How to attract more work from your existing workforce

Employers are filling positions at a slower rate than expected, US Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed in December. But that doesn’t mean someone does not take over. In that same data set, the increase in total hours worked was equivalent to the economy creating more than 630,000 new jobs, says economist Dean Baker in an analysis for the Center for Economic and Political Research.

So how exactly do companies persuade workers to take longer hours, and can they do so ethically and fairly?

All comes down to compensation, broadly defined, says Columbia Business School Professor Adam Galinsky. “They have the responsibility of providing two types of benefits for individuals,” he says. “The first is a feeling of status and gratitude. The second is compensation, like a bonus.” But it’s not as easy as just asking your employees to do extra work. There are ways to increase the productivity of your existing team fairly.

Be respectful

When workload expectations are already well established, moving the goal posts is a mistake. Instead, a simple request (along with additional compensation) can go a long way, especially for experienced employees. See this as a litmus test of your corporate culture. “It all depends on a person’s current relationship with the business. If they identify with the business and are faced with an emergency, they will be more likely to intervene during that emergency.” , said Galinsky. said.

You need to communicate your strategy and maintain a high level of transparency: explain why additional help is needed, how long you expect to need the additional work, and what steps you are taking to reduce the need in the future (such as if you “have to. reassess your job requirements or actively recruit new talent.) “People like to know the plan and the contingencies that are created,” adds Galinsky.

Pay, but creatively

When he couldn’t find enough workers to fill the shifts, Jason Day, owner-manager of 12 Penn Station East Coast Submarines Nashville area restaurants, hourly wage increase in all areas of $ 2 and instituted a new tiered compensation structure that rewards employees for additional workloads. Hourly employees who work less than 25 hours per week now earn $ 11 per hour, while those who work an average of more than 25 hours per week earn $ 13 per hour. But those who log more than 30 hours per week are increased to $ 15 per week. Since franchise stores specifically struggled for worker retention, Day saw the change in pay as an opportunity to improve operations. “There is a reward in being invited to do more,” he says. “We’ve been doing this for the past six months, and it has definitely helped with retention and even recruiting.”

Zachary Smith, Founder of the Bay Area Company Zachary Smith arboriculture, also launched a new financial incentive for its shift workers last summer. While permanent increases weren’t in the long-term budget, he launched an “overtime plus” benefit: for overtime worked, employees save time and a half and get five dollars more per hour. Many (but not all) have started to undertake additional work, which has enabled the company to meet the growing demand for its services. Smith sees the cost of the extra labor as a worthwhile investment: “All owners are afraid to raise wages faster than their competitors, for fear of becoming too expensive. But we do sell work and customers in this market are eager to spend ”.

Surprise bonuses and other perks like extra vacation days can also help employees feel appreciated, Galinsky adds. But when it comes to improving financial benefits, clarity is key: If a bonus is a one-time thing, make sure employees are in the know, lest you set a precedent that leads to a disappointment across the board. “There is so much research that shows that if you add some type of financial benefit to people and then take that away, it’s much worse than ever to add it in the first place,” he says.

Provide flexibility

Flexible working arrangements have grown in popularity during the pandemic, and not just for salaried employees. Providing easy-to-reschedule schedules for shiftworkers may also improve their flexibility, according to Little spoon founders Ben Lewis and Lisa Barnett. The baby food company’s customer service employees are largely part-time hourly workers, many of whom are parents. Little Spoon didn’t push this team to take on more hours, but found that flexible scheduling has greatly benefited productivity and retention.

Good planning is needed to provide this type of flexibility, however, to keep your bases covered. “At this point, with our scale, we can generally predict what our influx of customer inquiries is on any given day,” says Lewis. “There have been some unexpected increases, but these are quite rare – and we have already had senior managers and other team members to respond to clients as needed.” In addition to retaining part-time customer service employees, Little Spoon has also seen a high rate of these employees moving to full-time.

With all of these incentives, business leaders can improve productivity to compensate for labor shortages, but a strong corporate culture is essential above all. “If you don’t provide a great place to work that people love to come to, you’ll be left there on your own,” Day says.

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