Employee Engagement and the Casual Workforce


Jennie Drimmer

Head of Sales, UK & Europe

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Read more about Jennie

Jennie is a dynamic commercial leader with extensive experience working with HR and Finance teams to accelerate growth. She is passionate about transforming workforces’ engagement, productivity and profitability.


 
 
 

There have been numerous studies on the value that employee engagement has in creating a positive workforce culture and boosting staff retention. Engaged employees have also been shown to be more innovative, take less time off work and deliver better customer experiences.

Gallup recently found that engaged employees experience up to a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. Highly engaged businesses can also achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and 24% less staff turnover.

 
 

However, when we spoke to casual workers we found that only 42% of them feel engaged in their work. In the UK fully 22% of the workforce is engaged in casual employment – including temporary workers and those on zero hour contracts. Casual workers are the lifeblood of many key sectors, including hospitality and retail, and managing engagement can prove uniquely challenging here.

So how can HR leaders ensure they’re engaging their casual workforce? Just as businesses focus on creating great customer experiences, HR leaders need to also create exceptional employee experiences that extend beyond their permanent employees to their casual workers as well.

A differentiated employee experience begins with onboarding. When staff feel welcomed and valued from the get-go, they feel connected to an organisation’s culture and their team. When onboarding casual workers this is crucial as attrition is typically higher, with many not even showing up for their first shift.

Technology is too often underleveraged by HR here as well. Reducing and automating the amount of administration time required for onboarding casual staff is an immediate opportunity for most. With casual workers we know that one person may return to work multiple times for a business over an extended period, and with a digital record of staff in the system, they can more easily and quickly be restarted at any time.

Communication is another underleveraged feature for ensuring casual workers are consistently engaged. Being able to seamlessly use technology to communicate with casual staff creates real linkage to the business that otherwise proves elusive. Simple messages- from business news and development to personalised thanks for a job well done- are not reaching casual workers enough, leaving them disconnected from their roles and unlikely to pick up further shifts over time.

Communication also helps managers recognise and manage disengagement earlier and resolve issues more proactively. Without this, employers leave themselves open to the risk that unhappy or disengaged casual workers simply focus on taking shifts elsewhere, leading to an overreliance on agency workers and a higher wage bill.

 

Importantly, the UK also experiences some of the highest incorrect payment rates in the world, which impacts the foundational trust an employee feels for an employer. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that 44% of respondents to a recent SD Worx survey would consider looking for work elsewhere as a result of just one incorrect or late payment. Most HR systems struggle to accommodate casual workers who are paid differently, receive distinct benefits and operate under different regulations compared with full-time workers, creating overly manual processes for HR. For the sake of our employees and our own time spend in HR, we can’t approach the mobile and tech-native casual workers of the 21st century with outdated and manual 20th century approaches.

Engaging with your casual workers is not a bonus, it’s a requirement, particularly in an era of employee choice and record low unemployment. Employees who are not engaged will not hesitate to move on elsewhere, seeking out better engagement, while also spreading word that impacts your employment and consumer brand in market. More engaged employees, no matter their employment status, will be both happier and more productive, driving results for both HR and businesses overall.

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