With low unemployment, a steady decline in sales, and high turnover rates, restaurants face immense difficulty attracting and retaining workers. 

While there has been a growth in restaurant jobs, according to TDn2K’s People Report, the industry’s hourly turnover figures have not been this high since the recession. 

Confronting pressure to appeal to applicants and retain staff, employers must consider how to deliver on the priorities of workers and job seekers, from application to pay day.

Snagajob recently released its State of the Hourly Worker report for 2016, revealing that hourly workers aspire for more—more hours, more communication, and more compensation for their efforts.

The state of the economy itself is helping propel these demands, as demand for hourly workers is on the rise. Yet with low unemployment rates, the limited pool of candidates cannot alleviate the vast need for talent. 

According to the Snagajob report, when considering a job, workers are prioritizing if the position offers enough hours, then assessing the pay, followed by opportunity for growth, and lastly, the location.

In terms of pay, the disruptive policies on federal, state, and local levels are further driving the dissatisfaction with hourly wages and the sweeping advocacy efforts for change. With the rapid success of the Fight for $15 campaign, including upping the minimum wage to $15 in New York, California, and Seattle, and the Overtime Work Rule enacted by the Obama administration in May, new legislation is pushing the momentum for higher hourly pay across the country.

The most preferred wage suggestion, by about a third of the Snagajob respondents, was $10 per hour. 

As a result of the Overtime Work Rule, which the Department of Labor says extends overtime pay protections to more than 4 million workers within the first year of implementation, Snagajob predicts that hourly employers will hire more workers and provide them with fewer shifts to avoid paying overtime. 

About 45 percent of respondents say they are living paycheck to paycheck but are able to pay bills on time, while almost a third of respondents are making less than they spend, growing in debt each month. However, in order to boost their total earnings, workers are willing to split their time between jobs, with 88 percent of respondents expressing that they are open to working multiple jobs to get their desired amount of hours.

For most respondents, their hourly work is either simply a way to pay the bills while pursuing another interest or a start to a career path within the organization. For nearly nine out of 10 respondents, they felt they were able to pursue other interests while holding an hourly position. 

Of the respondents to the Snagajob report, 52.6 percent were unemployed, and 15.9 percent were looking for their first job. But in looking to pursue outside interests, almost half of the respondents expect to be at their next job for fewer than three years. 

Other important considerations the job seekers expressed included the workplace environment, flexibility of hours, the position itself, and the people they would work for. In highlighting these aspects, employers may draw in applicants by accommodating desired flexible schedules and connecting skillsets gained from the position to their potential long-term goals.

In the job hunt, the most common frustration surveyed workers voiced was the lack of communication from potential employers, never hearing back after their applications vanish into the “black hole.”

The job seekers also suggest that offering specific perks can sway them toward a certain company, as more than 35 percent of respondents desire a monthly stipend to purchase items from the workplace. Almost a third of workers most preferred having the freedom to wear whatever they want, within reason.

Employers are also missing an opportunity to attract applicants, especially younger generations, through mobile platforms. While 72 percent reported using a mobile phone to look for or apply for positions—and 90 percent of Millennials—only 54 percent of employers post jobs with mobile-friendly applications.

Shifting the demographic makeup of the U.S., Millennials will soon claim the largest portion of the workforce, not only shifting digital expectations for the application process but also bringing a new set of technological skills and values to the job. The Brookings Institute estimates that in the next 10 years, Millennials will account for 75 percent of the nation’s workforce. 

The U.S. has 78 million total hourly workers, who account for 60 percent of the nation’s workforce, and 80 percent of all hires made in the U.S. each year, according to Snagajob.

Despite frustrations both as applicants and as employees, hourly workers are optimistic about their futures. Of the respondents, 68 percent feel optimistic about their career path—a 6 percent increase since 2014.

In finding ways to adapt to hourly workers’ expectations and fuel this optimistic outlook, employers can recruit qualified talent, boost productivity, and ultimately raise the company’s bottom line.

By Jenn Morrison

Industry News, Labor & Employees