As recently as a few months ago most Americans deemed the term “essential worker” as encompassing medical professionals, fire and police personnel, or teams dispatched to restore gas and electricity following a natural disaster. COVID-19 has fundamentally expanded the definition of an essential worker to now include everything from cleaning crews to hourly employees who pick, pack, and ship fresh food from distribution centers.
Clearly the pandemic highlights the critical role hourly positions play in our economy and day-to-day lives, but it’s something MyWorkChoice has understood from our inception. In fact, taking care of them and supporting the businesses they work for was the fuel that sparked our birth.
Develop a Strategy Now
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29% of today’s workforce has the luxury of a flexible work schedule, yet, it is sought by the majority of American workers. In the midst of COVID-19, essential workers not only struggle to find workplace flexibility— meeting the needs of educating children at home and potentially caring for sick family members—but they also have the added personal health risk of working outside the home. Most experts agree that now is the time to proactively develop strategies to meet the urgent demands of America’s new essential workers.
Hope is Not a Strategy
Of course, one approach is to do nothing—hoping that displaced and unemployed workers will naturally flock to advertised openings. This strategy may work in the short-term, but as the economy rebounds, unemployment numbers stabilize, and today’s contingent workers contend with the fallout of shuttered schools and increased family demands, we predict employee absenteeism will creep back towards pre-pandemic levels of 25 – 31%. This means at least 1 of every 4 workers will not show up for their shift resulting in lost productivity and missed order fulfilment for businesses.
Win-Win Models Work
A superior strategy is to acknowledge today’s circumstances and create a win-win scenario introducing flexibility for today’s hourly workforce. How might that look in your organization? To begin, enable workers the ability to pick their own weekly schedules from a mobile app on their smartphones. Although it sounds radical, it’s simply utilizing technology to do what you’re already doing with your best, most loyal hourly employees. This approach is the way some of America’s most innovative companies are executing their operations. Businesses who embrace this model are experiencing contingent workforce attendance rates exceeding 95%, ZERO overtime costs, and improved retention rates.
There’s Opportunity in Every Difficulty
To quote Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” By using this time to carefully evaluate your business’ human resource management practices as it relates to hourly and contingent employees, you can position your organization for fast ramp-up and competitive growth following the COVID-19 crisis – while retaining your workforce for the long-term.