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Creating Flexible Work Environments for Hourly Industrial Workers

Work-life balance has been an issue for American workers for decades. More than anything, individuals want some flexibility in their jobs so they can tend to all the other important details in their lives—taking kids get to school and picking them up, being home in time to prepare dinner, going to the doctor, getting the car repaired, caring for an elderly parent—and a million other things on their daily to-do lists.

While many employers have responded with employee-centric solutions (flextime, job sharing and telecommuting are a few), there’s still a large segment of the workforce that doesn’t have access to such perks—especially hourly industrial workers who have to be at a certain worksite at certain time for a defined number of hours in order to keep production lines running according to strict schedules.

There are several reasons it’s particularly difficult to build flexibility into the scope of their work, including:

  • Rigid scheduling practices Nearly half of all hourly industrial workers have no control over their work schedule (including required overtime), start and stop times and work breaks.
  • Unpredictable nature of work hours About 20 to 30 percent of hourly industrial workers are regularly required to work overtime with little or no notice.
  • Unstable work schedules. More than 25 percent of part-time hourly industrial workers have their hours unexpectedly cut or are laid off when work is slow.

In an economic climate where millions of people are still unemployed and people who do have jobs often live in fear of losing them, hourly workers aren’t likely to make demands when employers seem to have the upper hand. Despite the uneven balance of power, individuals aren’t hesitant to actively look for better opportunities. The Department of Labor reports that, on average, U.S. workers change jobs every 1.5 years. As you know, there are real costs associated with frequent employee turnover—including hiring and training.

Employers are well-served when they make an effort to accommodate their workers in meaningful ways. Here are ways you can implementing flexible workplace solutions that your hourly industrial employees will appreciate.

  • Significant income fluctuations
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Access and ability to get to medical care

Flexible Work Solutions for Hourly Industrial Workers
Some of the flexible workplace solutions that would help alleviate these scheduling issues include:

  • Give workers input about their work schedules—including schedule preferences, start and end times, break times and overtime.
  • Provide work schedules (including overtime) in advance and keep schedule changes to a minimum.
  • Offer workers a consistent number of hours and let them know in advance how many hours they’ll be assigned each week and which shifts.

Flexible measures like these not only help reduce turnover, they reduce absenteeism while improving engagement and productivity. Studies show that employees who enjoy some flexibility in their jobs are 30 percent more likely to stay with their employers for two years or longer. Just as important, their commitment to their job is 63 percent higher than employees who don’t have flexibility.

Managing hourly workers in a manner that ensures maximum productivity is important, but it’s also important to be compassionate. Unexpected things happen—people become ill, there are family emergencies, vehicles break down. Finding flexible ways to handle these contingencies not only reduces stress for employers and employees, it shows employees you value their contributions—and that is just good business.

If you need help managing your contingent or temporary workforce, put Snelling’s expertise to work for you. We’ve been providing companies with custom workforce solutions for more than six decades. Connect with a Snelling staffing expert today to see how we can help you.