Tim Sackett

8 min read

Recruiting Tactics

7 Recruiting Strategies for Hourly Workers

If you clicked on this link it’s safe to assume you probably are feeling some pressure right now to hire more employees. This information is purposely designed to focus on hourly workers, but some of these ideas and strategies work across all levels of worker. Unlike, our salaried workforce, though, hourly workers tend to actually be more difficult to find. They most likely don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, or a resume on a job board database.

Hourly workers usually fill out applications and as of 2022, no one in the HR tech space has really figured out the secret sauce of building an hourly recruiting technology that attracts the massive workforce that is hourly that is similar to what we’ve been able to do around the salaried workforce. 

So, I’ll just come out and say that one thing that we all feel, but we sound silly if we say it out loud – “Hiring Hourly Workers Is More Difficult Than Hiring Salaried Workers!” at least when we get into ultra-low unemployment environments like we have right now. 

TL;DR, Blah, Blah, Blah, just give me the silver bullets! 

That’s what it’s all about. We need to hire and we need to do it fast, please don’t give us some kind of mathematical formula to solve! Not to worry, like you I rip open the Oreo cookie and just get to the good stuff right away! 

My Top 7 Hourly Recruiting Strategies! 

Don’t let your current workers leave! 

Okay, we are not saying to lock them into your place of business! That’s illegal, don’t do that! The best hire you’ll ever make is the one you don’t have to! Yes, we need to desperately need to hire more workers, but simultaneously we need to stop the out flow of workers leaving us. You will not be able to stop everyone from leaving. Hourly workforces are transit by nature, but if you can reduce your turnover by 10-20% it has a giant impact on your ability to hire. 

We tend to discount feedback of workers that leave. It’s a very normal psychological response to do this. We feel like if this person has decided to leave then they are no longer part of the “family” and we basically give up on them. But, if we start to really gather this data/feedback and look at it all together we will begin to see trends and common issues that we can work to change and make better. 

I love to ask location managers this one question: “If I gave you $100 per employee, what would you do to increase their experience and retain them longer?” What we know as HR and Talent Acquisition professionals is $100 to keep an employee is literally nothing in the greater business scheme. We pay way more than $100 to hire the replacement of each worker that leaves us on average. The actual average cost of an application in the hourly world right now runs anywhere from $30-60 per application, not hire, just getting an application! 

When we work on this question of what would a manager do, it’s never “Oh, just give each worker the $100.” Because we all know that would have limited impact in retaining a worker. What we find is managers come up with all kinds of low-cost and no-cost ideas to show workers they are appreciated throughout the year. Sending them handwritten thank you notes to their homes, sending or giving them small gifts of appreciation, posting pictures of them with words of thanks on social media, etc. All of which adds up over time of letting our hourly workers know that you care about them more than someone else will, and you should never underestimate the power of that feeling in retaining your workforce! 

Turns out, Marketing works!  

On average right now, organizations are spending 5-10X the amount on job advertising that they were pre-pandemic. Meaning, if you spent $500 a month running job ads to attract workers, you will need to spend $2500 to $5000 just to get the same amount of applicants! Still, this is the primary applicant attraction strategy that organizations still use to hire hourly workers. We post our jobs on job boards, social media, etc. and we hope someone will apply. For those who are spending about the same amount as we did two years ago, that is basically all you have is hope! 

Many organizations are beginning to use Programmatic Job Advertising tools. Programmatic Job Advertising is a sophisticated way to say we are letting the robots run our job ads, we aren’t making the decisions anymore! Turns out, the robots actually do a wonderful job at running job ads! Actually, programmatic technology has been around for decades but we’ve just recently started using it for job advertising. 

You know how you got to Nordstrom’s and look at a pair of shoes, but you’re not ready to buy. So, you then go to another site, like Facebook or something, and there’s an ad for those exact same shoes you just looked at! That’s programmatic, and it’s very powerful at getting you to buy. It works the same way for candidates. Programmatic puts your job posting in front of them where they are on the internet, not just at job sites, so your job posting gets viewed by many more possible candidates. On average we see organizations saving around 30% on their job advertising by using programmatic job advertising technology. 

Communicate with Hourly Candidates Their Way! 

We tend to build hiring processes around the way we work. If I’m a corporate recruiter, I’m sitting in front of my laptop or desktop all day. I’m comfortable working in that “environment”. 90% of our hourly workforce only access the internet, thus your jobs, from a mobile device, their phone. Yet almost all hourly application processes are built around desktop apply, not mobile. 

I ask recruiters, HR pros, etc. to constantly do one thing for me. Go over to the nearest McDonalds and just park in the lot. Logon to their free WIFI and then go apply to one of your jobs. What the vast majority find, is that is sucks! It’s difficult to navigate and takes to long to load, etc. This is exactly how your potential applicants feel as well. And they give up. On average, organizations lose about 60% of applicants to give up on trying to apply to you because the process takes too long or is confusing on mobile. 

I recently was working with a large manufacturing facility where the General Manager was forcing applicants to come in and fill out an application. This person had their organization’s best interest at heart, he really did! His feeling was, we have them walk-in, fill out the application, and we’ll immediately talk to them and offer them a job if they’re good. But, what many of us know who have GenZ or young Millennial kids know, almost none of them would ever walk into that building to apply. 

But, if you put a sign out front that said something like “Text – Hire Me to #897654” all of them wanting to work there would do that! In fact, we were able to show this GM just that when they went from having about 1 application a day to having 15-20 by just giving people an opportunity to communicate the way they want to through text messaging. 

I commonly tell groups I speak with that if you are not currently using text messaging to recruit candidates, you should be fired from your job. Across the board, not just with hourly, text messaging gets exponentially more response rate at every level of employee. You can tell me any kind of employee you try and hire, and I can show you that the response rate from email to text messaging is 7-10 times more for text messaging. From $15/hr hourly workers to $250,000 executives! 

Let Your Great Employees Hire for You!

Sure, we all know that employee referrals are the best! When we take a look at source of hire statistics, and cost of hire statistics, employee referrals will always be in the top 3 of all companies. Employee referrals, on average, make better hires and are cheaper to hire then almost every other kind of hire. 

Now, the challenge is how do we do more of this? Yeah, we all have an employee referral program and for the most part we all think our employee referral programs suck. They are stale and boring, and no one really pays attention. 

Here are two recruiting strategies on how to make them better:

  • Employer Brand Advocates – instead of having all of your employees be a part of employee referrals, create an exclusive team of employees who will help you get more hires. We find that most organizations can start really small, just a handful of employees who you would say “love” working at your company. You then feed them messaging they can share on their social feeds, and with friends and family. 
  • Instead of rewarding the final outcome of a referral, reward the behavior that leads to referrals. If an employee gives you contact of someone who might want to work for you, pay them $20 or a gas card. If that person shows up for an interview, pay the referring person $100. Etc. What I find is paying the behavior leads to far more employee referrals and your employees love the immediacy of the reward, which sparks other employees to get involved. 

Focus on Local! 

80%+ of hourly hires live within five miles of their place of employment. This means we have to focus our recruiting efforts hyper-local! Billboards, yard signs, canvasing local schools and places of worship, etc. A best practice is to start in one-mile circumferences from where you need to hire someone and keep going out by one mile, looking for every possible place you might find a worker. Then figure out how do we let the people know we want them? 

Your success of hiring and keeping hourly workers has as direct correlation to how far and how long it takes for them to commute to your place of business. I recently spoke with a head of HR for a manufacturing company that paid to have a billboard put up directly across the street from a newly built Amazon warehouse. They knew Amazon was attracting so many people to come to work for them and spending a lot of money to get that traffic. They also knew Amazon can go through a lot of employees, so why don’t we let folks know they have other options. 

Hiring hourly workers is very hard, but we also sometimes over think it. Hiring someone that has to walk across the street to come to work for you versus someone who has to take three buses and a train, well, we all know who is probably going to be more consistent in making it into work! 

Let recruiting technology work for you. 

Make sure you are experimenting with conversational A.I./chatbots. At best, you might have someone focusing on recruiting 40 – 50 hours a week. When an hourly worker comes to apply to your website and has a question or a problem, there’s a great chance no one will be there to help them, and they’ll just go apply somewhere else. Having an always on chatbot on your website will increase your apply rates and capture contact data that will allow your recruiters to text these candidates the next day they are in the office. 

What I find is that most organizations actually don’t need more applicants. They just need to actually engage every applicant they have without bias. When we do testing where every applicant gets a full engagement and interview, we find that most organizations need about 50% of the applicants they have to fill their roles. 

One of the most valuable sources of applicants is the same database we ignore in our ATSs. Your ATS database might be the most underutilized resource for hiring that you have! We done a bunch of testing with organizations where we’ll take a list of one hundred previous applicants that applied but didn’t get hired and send out a nurture campaign using text messaging. From these campaigns we consistently see people coming back who are still interested and it creates high quality hires. The first step is to dig back into our databases and give some of these applicants a second chance! 

Start Swimming in some Different Pools! 

We all have some conscious and unconscious biases. When I dig into hiring data with an organization, we often see some common applicant pools we’ve just given up on. Sometimes it’s older people, sometimes it’s a minority or females in male dominated fields, we almost always see people with a prior record being ignored, even well after they paid their debt to society. 

It never works for force a manager to hire someone they don’t want to, but also we are often dealing with an “unconscious” bias. The manager doesn’t even know they are not selecting certain people. It can be difficult having these individual conversations, but it’s something we need to do. I find if we are not accusatory but use data to show that we have a gap in hiring, we can often to get managers to see the world in a different light and begin to open up their hiring pools, and most are pleasantly surprised by the talent they find. 

What we know is that doing the same thing we’ve been doing for the last decade, or longer, is not working. Every market, every industry will have continued challengers over the next few years to try and figure out how to fill their hourly roles. The organizations that continue to try new recruiting strategies and test out new and evolving technologies will have a foot up on the rest in this hyper-competitive talent world. 

About Emissary

Emissary is a candidate engagement platform built to empower recruiters with efficient, modern communication tools that work in harmony with other recruiting solutions.

Book a Demo

Stay in the loop!

Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and keep up to date with the latest Recruiting and HR tips and trends.

By clicking send you’ll receive occasional emails from us.

Ready to speed up your hiring process?

Start texting candidates and get better results today.
Book a Demo