Ninety-six percent of hourly employees say schedule flexibility is the number-one benefit that would motivate them to take a new job.
Legion Technologies, an innovator in workforce management (WFM), today released its annual State of the Hourly Workforce Report. The report, which surveyed more than 1,500 hourly employees and 600 managers, details the biggest challenges and opportunities influencing the employment experience, such as the demand for schedule flexibility, access to wages, economic uncertainty and workplace technology.
This year’s report reveals that schedule flexibility has become a critical issue for both employees and managers even more so than competitive pay with 96% of hourly employees saying it is the number-one benefit motivating them to take a new job, and 48% of managers saying it is the most challenging part of retaining their current hourly workers. With so many employers still relying on manual processes to create employee schedules, it comes as no surprise that employee scheduling is the number one thing that managers want to have intelligently automated, to help them easily create optimized schedules that balance employee preferences and availability with the needs of the business.
“Hourly employees form the backbone of the American workforce, and when our data shows that nearly two-thirds of them plan to quit their jobs in the next year, it’s clear that employers cannot afford to neglect their employees’ needs around flexibility and pay,” said Sanish Mondkar, CEO and founder of Legion Technologies. “The pandemic forced countless businesses to evolve their processes, but this era of change is far from over, and the power shift in favor of employees is here to stay. As the labor shortage continues, companies will need to evaluate how outdated labor processes and technology may be holding them back from giving their employees the experience they deserve. If they have not already, now is the time to embrace intelligent automation and optimize their labor strategy to enable that flexibility workers demand.”
Since COVID-19 hit in 2020, the hourly workforce lauded as “essential” at the peak of the pandemic has undergone wave after wave of dramatic change. After three tumultuous years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported an unemployment rate close to pre-pandemic lows. However, a significant labor shortage persists in certain sectors, such as retail and food service, which rely heavily on hourly frontline labor to function. Legion’s data indicates 62% of hourly employees plan to leave in the next 12 months. Among them, 64% of these employees plan to leave their current industry altogether. To prevent a mass exodus of talent, employers must modernize the employee experience for the 76 million hourly workers and managers that power their businesses.
In addition, Legion’s research found that employees demand flexibility in their schedules above all other benefits, including increased wages. In fact, 48% of managers stated that “not providing the schedule flexibility employees want” was the most challenging part of retaining hourly employees in the past six months, as opposed to 44% who said not offering competitive pay. This flexibility allows employees to have more control over their lives and in turn, feel more fulfilled at work. It can also help them accommodate multiple jobs, which 20% of respondents reported having.
The survey also identified pay flexibility not just schedule flexibility as a key motivator for hourly employees: 43% of hourly workers stated they would consider a new job if it meant they had early wage access (EWA). 62% of hourly employees also stated they prefer to be paid every week. In fact, the demand for the ability to get paid early has grown 20x over the past three years, a sign that instant pay is becoming a must-have benefit.
Additional findings from this year’s survey of 1,513 hourly employees include:
- 78% of hourly employees said their work environment has been impacted by economic uncertainty
- The top factors that make hourly jobs undesirable are: not enough benefits 48%, undesirable working conditions 45%, and not enough schedule flexibility 44%
- Of the 20% of hourly employees who have more than one job, 63% say it’s because they don’t make enough money at one job to cover rent and food
- When asked what type of scheduling flexibility was most important, employees rated the following factors the highest:
- The ability to choose the number of hours they want to work per week (42%)
- More scheduling options (30%)
- The ability to seamlessly pick up extra shifts (28%).
Managers also face unique difficulties in their roles, ones that the aftershocks of the pandemic and an ongoing labor shortage have only exacerbated. According to the 628 managers surveyed, the most difficult part of managing hourly employee schedules is matching employee preferences and availability with the needs of the business. Further complicating this challenge is the fact that too many companies are relying on outdated scheduling methods: 20% of managers still use paper-based processes to create schedules and 27% rely on Google Docs or similar software, both of which are time-consuming and prone to error. This underscores a serious need for automated scheduling, such as Legion’s WFM solution, which creates an optimized schedule to meet both business and employee needs in seconds.
Additional manager findings from the survey include:
- If employers were able to remove administrative burdens, managers would spend more time coaching and developing their teams (62%) and interacting with customers (30%).
- 52% of managers in the hospitality industry said they had trouble finding candidates who weren’t underqualified. Meanwhile, in the retail sector, nearly 30% of managers reported an influx of overqualified candidates.
- 28% of managers said managing call-outs and no-shows is the most time-consuming part of managing employee schedules.
- The top two things managers said employers could do to help them were to provide tools to make it easier to communicate with their teams and reduce time on administrative tasks, such as creating schedules.