For hourly, industrial workers meeting the demands of both work and home can be a bigger challenge than for the workforce at-large.  They are the least likely to have the flexibility to get children to school/childcare, take the car to the shop or even go to the doctor.  However,  hourly workers do need some solutions in order to effectively meet their responsibilities at both work and home.

This does not mean that you have to offer your stock clerks, order fillers or shipping clerks the ability to work from home one day a week.  That goes against the nature of their jobs.  They must be at a certain worksite for a defined number of hours in order to ensure that the lines keep running and schedules are maintained.

There has been much talk about the most commonly-known flexible work solutions  – flex time, job share, telecommuting –  but hourly, industrial workers are less likely than other workers to have access to most/any of these solutions.  This is not possible due to the dynamics of many businesses.

Flexibility is not narrowly defined and means different things to different workers in different industries with different needs.   Hourly, industrial workers face distinct scheduling challenges….challenges that may not be faced by professional/managerial workers.

These include:

1)      Rigidity – the lack of control the worker has over the scheduling of his/her work hours – including overtime, start/end times and even break times.

2)      Unpredictability – having schedules assigned with little/no advance notice – including overtime

3)      Instability – fluctuations in work hours by week, time of day, and length of shift – including involuntary work hour reductions and involuntary part-time work.

Providing “flexibility” to hourly, industrial workers requires the employers to simply rethink conventional scheduling practices and address the needs of the workers who work a wide range of schedules.  Some workers may desire

  • To have some level of meaningful input into their work schedules without the fear of losing their jobs.  This includes the ability to have schedule preferences taken into account (i.e. alter start/end times, take breaks at certain times, etc.).
  • To be provided their work schedules (including overtime schedules) in advance and not have to continuously face changes to those previously assigned schedules.
  • To be given notice on how many hours of work will be assigned and guarantees for a certain proportion of hours or shifts.

The conventional understanding of workplace flexibility needs to be expanded to fit these unique scheduling challenges of hourly workers.  Some actual solutions may include shift-swapping, team scheduling, self-scheduling, honoring worker preferences to work certain shifts or certain days and seeking volunteers first for overtime.

For employers, having a stable and effective hourly workforce requires providing employees with the flexibility that they need to get the job done.  Flexibility – in all its incarnations – can improve performance.  It reduces turnover and absenteeism and improves employee engagement and productivity.

This is where the utilization of a contingent workforce is critical.  Providing stability, flexibility and manageability to your workforce is crucial for the business.  However, things do happen.  People get sick.  Family emergencies occur.  Vehicles break down.  This is why having a strong and stable partnership with a firm that can provide quality temporary workers, such as Snelling, is crucial.  It allows you to provide for your workforce, while at the same time, ensure that your business continues to prosper.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available. 

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