Why don't hourly employees like going to work?

Two themes have become prominent in the employment marketplace: employers have a high need for workers, yet workers are slow to accept open positions.

That mismatch points to an urgent need to adapt recruitment practices and the candidate experience. Beyond that, it's an ideal time for a re-evaluation of the entire employment lifecycle.

We must explore why there is widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo for hourly workers, and what can be done to change the narrative.

When are high-volume workers happier? 16% At work. 37% Away from work. - The Happiness Report by Traitify

Traitify's Happiness Report found that it's rare for workers to get a psychological boost from arriving at work, with considerably more indicating they felt better away from work (37.3%) than those who said being at work improved their mood (16.2%). Is this just the pandemic talking?

Perhaps work was uniquely stressful during its most acute months. While that effect can't be dismissed, the high quit rates of 2019 indicate that the problem is about more than virus-related stress. So the question is a simple one: why don't hourly workers like their jobs? There are likely several answers to this question, but here we discuss three important factors.

Unhappy customers = unhappy employees. A recent discussion on LinkedIn among retail workers revealed that uncooperative or demanding customers are a recurrent source of low morale among employees. "A thick skin can only do so much when you're being verbally abused by customers…" wrote one poster. The risk mitigation efforts of the pandemic represented a difficult new frontier for customer-worker interactions. Another worker commented, "The additional cleaning procedures added to an already overflowing workload...all while being yelled at by customers…"

Undoubtedly, the pandemic took a widespread toll on mental health. As restrictions are rolled back nationwide, some of those sources of friction at the worker-customer interface will likely improve. But here again, it's worthwhile to consider the long-term lessons learned.

Employers across industries would be wise to re-evaluate the customer experiences they create, with an eye toward the impact on employees. Understaffing a location, for example, undermines customer satisfaction while also increasing the employee's workload and stress. Bait and switch sales techniques, low inventory, reduced hours, and under-training staffers are additional realities that hit customers — and by extension, make life harder for employees.

Hourly workers show less buy-in on company culture. A 2017 report by CultureIQ found that hourly workers rated their company's culture less favorably than did salaried workers on several key parameters including Collaboration, Innovation, and Performance Focus.

Culture-building initiatives are missing from many high-volume workforces, such as mobile-first engagement tools, multi-faceted onboarding, and mentoring programs.

As these analysts discuss, hourly workers at many organizations have more in common with temporary workers than salaried ones. In fact, with short average tenures at many organizations that hire in high volume, there really is little difference in practice between everyday hires and "temporary" ones. Entry-level employees at or near minimum wages may effectively see themselves as temporary workers -- and there's little evidence that their employers take a different view. Culture-building initiatives are missing from many high-volume workforces, such as mobile-first engagement tools, multi-faceted onboarding, and mentoring programs.

It's time for better fits. Traitify's Happiness Report found that when looking for jobs, workers tend to prioritize the convenience of a location. Indeed, commute times matter to many individuals. However, selecting a "job of convenience" poses its own set of challenges. Chronic mismatches between workers' personalities and the positions they hold is a potent recipe for job dissatisfaction, yet this receives little attention in recruiting and hiring practices.

Top Factors Influencing the Unemployed Accepting a job: 49% location, 45% Covid-19 safety, 36% flexible schedule, 30% benefits, 26% pay, 26% job duties

With hiring needs high and candidates expecting streamlined apply processes, insights into job-fit that require little investment of time are uniquely poised to meet the demands of the moment. Quick capture of personality data is essential in these times to anticipate mismatches before they happen. It's a win-win-win for job seekers, hiring managers, and employers.

Big problems require big solutions

The challenges of the pandemic were considerable, and those effects won't be wiped away immediately. There are important takeaways that can change operations for the better, long-term. Taking a holistic view of the employee's daily life by improving the customer experience, extending culture outreach to include hourly employees, and bringing in a workforce that is well-suited to the demands of their roles are three important steps to cultivating happiness at work.

What else impacts workplace happiness?