Hourly employees make up over 50 percent of the total US employee population and a critical segment of the workforce at many organizations. While employee engagement efforts typically focus primarily on salaried employees who are perceived as having more of a long-term commitment to the organization, hourly employee engagement and loyalty are growing concerns for HR leaders in today’s tight labor markets. According to recent Gartner research, hourly workers are more engaged in their jobs when they are satisfied with their employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
In the past year, we’ve seen many large companies launch new initiatives to better engage and retain their hourly employees, whether through education benefits or opportunities to work with local nonprofit organizations. HR leaders have also seen improvement of hourly employee engagement when these employees have positive perceptions of their organization’s D&I activities, our research finds. In fact, when hourly employees are satisfied with D&I, they exhibit almost twice the discretionary effort and almost three times the intent to stay compared to those who are not satisfied. However, only about half of hourly employees are currently involved with D&I efforts and HR leaders are uncertain how to use D&I to engage this population.
Our D&I research team has uncovered three ways HR leaders can leverage hourly employee engagement in D&I to make a positive impact on the organization:
Integrate D&I in Current Processes
HR leaders should integrate D&I efforts into pre-existing engagement initiatives, such as team meetings, to ensure that cultural values and behaviors are articulated and implemented consistently throughout the organization. This approach addresses a key challenge hourly employees face when connecting to D&I at their organizations: They do not feel included on their teams. By building hourly employee inclusion into existing processes, organizations can improve team performance without creating additional structures for HR to manage.
Incentivize Participation with Employee Experiences
HR leaders should leverage career development and advancement opportunities as incentives for hourly employees to participate in D&I, rather than only emphasizing financial incentives. Gartner research shows that when hourly employees are offered monetary incentives to participate in D&I activities, they are actually less engaged with the organization because D&I feels forced and is perceived as a compliance issue rather than a cultural or personal value. In contrast, HR leaders see success when they provide hourly employees with opportunities for development and advancement instead of financial rewards, as a way to help their career growth.
Use D&I Efforts to Improve Productivity
Many HR leaders are worried that engaging hourly employees in D&I will detract from hourly employee performance. On the contrary, not only does hourly employees’ discretionary effort improve when they are satisfied with D&I, but furthermore, hourly employee satisfaction with D&I has twice as much impact on discretionary effort as their satisfaction with manager quality and almost three times as much impact as satisfaction with vacation. Organizations can leverage D&I opportunities in many different ways to generate productivity gains, but organizations see the most success with hourly employee engagement when they structure D&I activities effectively, equip managers with the right tools to support participation, and enable fair and equal access to D&I activities.
Gartner for HR Leaders and Corporate Leadership Council members who want to learn more can read our full research report on engaging hourly employees in D&I.