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Hiring in a Recovering Economy

For the past couple of years, it's certainly been a buyers' market for hourly hiring managers in terms of the quantity and quality of applicants they've received. In addition to talented hourly workers, many laid-off, salaried workers have turned to hourly employment for income. This surplus of job candidates has provided hiring managers with a plethora of over-qualified candidates eager to work a variety of hourly positions.

In the year ahead, however, these "A-level" candidates may be leaving in mass quantities to return to their salaried positions, as optimism in the rebounding economy increases. According to a recent survey my company,, commissioned -- a telephone study of more than 1,000 hourly and salaried workers conducted in December -- 56 percent said they foresee a rebound in the U.S. job market in the year ahead, and 38 percent of hourly workers said they plan to look for a new job in 2010.

This indicates that employers should be concerned that their turnover rate for even career hourly employees will increase as the job market improves. Proactive hourly hiring managers will want to prepare for this change in job market conditions so that they remain properly staffed with the best possible employees.

To start, I suggest focusing on your relationships with current staff members, especially those "A-level" employees that you would like to retain. It costs much less to hold on to current staff members than to recruit and train new ones.

Some non-monetary incentives you can offer to help keep good workers include:

-- Schedule flexibility. Try to create a schedule that meets the needs of those who have families or are going to school part-time. Conversely, some of your part-time employees may be looking to work more hours and can easily be made into full-time employees.

-- Avoid boredom/restlessness. Be more proactive about having conversations with employees about career paths, and offer feedback and training to help them get to the next level. If workers feel like they are continually growing and being offered new opportunities within your company, they're more likely to be motivated and feel an incentive to stay.

-- It's the little things that count. Simple praise and a "thank you" for a job well done can go a long way. Also, offering small rewards for reaching milestones or important achievements provides a big return in terms of employee morale. Employees who feel needed and appreciated are generally happier at work and tend to be more dedicated.

All that being said, it's still inevitable that some staff members are going to leave. So, here are some ways you can prepare for turnover, and stay ahead of staffing needs:

-- Have a constant pipeline of job candidates to quickly fill hiring needs. Relying on online job sites can really help to filter applications and screen for the candidates that best fit your needs ahead of time. That way, there will always be a qualified pool of candidates for you to choose from at any time.

-- Keep in touch with those "A-level" candidates you might not have room for now. Fifteen million Americans are still out of work and actively looking for a job, so you may still have a chance to hire people who previously impressed you. When you have an opening, go back to that "hot lead" pile first and find out if that stand-out person is still available.

-- Develop a system for employee referrals. Offer small incentives to those employees who bring in quality job candidates. If your current employees are happy, it should be an easy sell to employ their friends and/or family members who may be similarly qualified. Additionally, there’s a more likely chance for a close cultural fit if you hire from among your employees' circles.

-- Be more selective during this round of hiring. Given the excess of over-qualified candidates the recession has brought, you may have hired them as an opportunity to quickly and easily fill hiring needs. This time around, ask interviewees about their purpose and intent for a job. Evaluate whether or not a job seeker seems likely to leave quickly, and whether or not you want to make the investment in them or try another candidate.

While it's not certain exactly when this shift in the job market is going to occur, it certainly will help to be prepared for the change when it comes. Evaluating your current staff to get an idea of who may be staying or leaving, and identifying what strategies you can employ to make the transition as easy as possible, will help to allay the stresses of a big turnover.

Read other columns by Shawn Boyer:

Help Your Bottom Line by Retaining Hourly Workers

Shawn Boyer is CEO of, America's largest hourly job Web site. Since 2000, he has helped hourly employers find qualified candidates within the retail, restaurant, hospitality and service industries, among others.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect the views of
Convenience Store News.
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