Trouble Hiring? Here's How to Solve Your Shortage of Hourly Workers

Rob Snyder
June 12, 2019

It’s no secret: For businesses that employ hourly workers, it’s harder to hire now than at any time in recent memory. The unemployment rate is at a 49-year low, at 3.6%. But businesses are hiring - the job openings rate is 4.7%.

In fact, finding quality workers is the number one challenge business owners face today. Read the news and you’ll see article after article about the labor shortage.

But in hourly work, there actually isn’t a labor shortage: The labor shortage is a myth.

How do we know this? Nearly 80% of hourly workers are willing to work additional jobs to get more hours, and the “involuntary part-time rate” is 40% higher than it should be.

So there isn’t a labor shortage. Instead, there’s a shortage of the kinds of jobs hourly workers can work: Jobs where they determine their own schedules. This is why “on-demand” and freelance jobs are growing at 3x the pace of regular employment - they offer the flexibility today’s hourly workers need.

Think about it: A worker with a part-time job usually gets his or her work schedule less than one week in advance, which means it’s really hard to predict when she’ll be available for another job. So instead of getting another part-time job, she drives for Uber. Or works for another on-demand platform that allows her to volunteer to work when she wants, and not be forced to work when she doesn’t want to or isn’t able to.

But employers are slow to realize this and make the needed changes to their hiring and staffing processes. Unfortunately, if they keep trying to hire for part-time workers who have no say in when they work, they’ll continue to wind up short-staffed. And they’ll keep turning to external “on-demand” worker platforms and temp agencies to fill in the gaps… but these are band-aids over the underlying problem.

The solution is for employers to hire for a new kind of job: A flexible job where workers can pick their own schedules, and aren’t forced to work shifts they don’t want to work. They’re offered shifts, not scheduled for shifts.

And of course, this new type of worker requires a new kind of system to manage: A system like “Uber” that lets you send shift requests to your big bench of workers quickly and easily.

We’ve worked with employers to build this kind of system and worker (which we call a "SYRG worker"), and they’ve experienced:

  • Fewer unfilled shifts (90%+ coverage, even for last-minute openings)
  • Happier regular employees, lower turnover (they’re not forced to work last-minute shifts they don’t want to work)
  • Happier SYRG Workers who have the flexibility they want, plus the
  • Improved recruiting efforts (no longer a labor shortage now that they’re hiring for the right kind of job)
  • A pool of employees for quick up-staffing, so any big events can be easily staffed

SYRG Work makes sense for the worker, and it makes sense for business. This is an inevitable change in the labor market, and it’s critical for employers to start hiring and staffing a more flexible workforce if they hope to escape today’s so-called “labor shortage.”

Want a free job description for a flexible worker? See our post here.

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