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How to Find and Keep the Best Hourly Employees

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As a small business owner, it can be tough to find and keep hourly employees. A recent report from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics says that around 78.7 million workers in the U.S. are paid by the hour, making up over half of all workers.

The challenge is that big companies might be offering higher pay and better benefits, making it hard for small businesses to attract good, qualified employees. This competition can make it difficult for you to hire and keep the right hourly workers for your business.

How to Find Hourly Employees

Job boards like LinkedIn may not be best for recruiting hourly employees like they are for salaried employees. 

Here are some ideas for recruiting:


Create an employee referral program within your company. Getting recommendations from your current employees can be a great system to bring in more workers. 

First, tell your team about the program in a way that’s easy to understand. You can use posters or emails to explain what the program is, why it’s good, and how it works.

Ask your employees to recommend people they know for any job openings. Furthermore, make it easy for them by having a simple online form or a person they can talk to about their recommendations. To make it exciting, you can give rewards like bonuses or a shout-out for successful referrals.

Keep everyone updated on how well the program is doing and share success stories to keep the enthusiasm going. Also, make sure everyone feels welcome to join in, no matter their job. Furthermore, when someone makes a successful referral, reward them. By making the program easy, inclusive, and rewarding, you can use your team’s connections to find great new talent.

If your employees are not referring anyone, you should find out why. You may have a problem in your business that you need to address. 

On-Site Job Fairs

Hosting career fairs is a helpful way for managers to find good hourly employees. At these events, different companies and job seekers come together to talk about jobs. It is like meeting lots of potential workers all in one place. You get to share information about your company and the hourly jobs available. Also, it’s a chance for job seekers to learn about your company and for you to learn about their skills. This face-to-face meeting helps build a connection, making it easier to find the right fit for your hourly positions. 

Advertise in your local paper, website, social media, trade magazines, career centers, and the chamber of commerce that you are holding an annual (or more) job fair event. Also, this event could also be fun like grilling hot dogs and offering some entertainment while people are completing job applications or waiting for interviews. Once you hold your first on-site job fair, you will know the turnout you will get in the future to budget and plan.

Online Job Portals

Sure thing! When you’re looking for hourly workers, use job websites that focus on your industry. Make sure your job postings are clear and interesting. Start with a job title that really describes the job. Introduce your company briefly and share its values to give candidates an idea of the work environment.

Keep the job responsibilities simple with bullet points for easy reading. List the skills and qualifications needed, avoiding confusing jargon. Talk about the perks of the job, like flexible hours or chances for growth, to attract interested candidates.

There are good job boards to find hourly workers. But remember, don’t rely on just one method. Some affordable or free options are SnagajobIndeedZip Recruiter, and USA Jobs. Also, Upward (formerly Proven) is another tool that posts your job to many boards for better visibility. Also, look for a job board that fits your industry. For instance, if you have construction jobs, check out ConstructionJobs.com to find potential candidates.

Local Chapters or Organizations

Many positions have local chapters or groups that meet regularly. They may have job boards available for you to post. Network with others to find some ideas, especially when you have exhausted your resources. Also, don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone. If you have a large Hispanic population in your area, work with a translator to create job boards for your positions. Just be sure you hire legally and can meet all I-9 requirements.

Community Engagement

As a small business owner, hiring hourly employees through community engagement is a friendly and effective way. Start by getting involved in local activities or events like sponsoring sports teams, supporting charity events, or participating in community festivals. Furthermore, this helps people in your community get to know your business.

You can also set up a booth or a small presence at local gatherings to share information about job opportunities at your business. This direct interaction lets you connect with potential employees and gives them a chance to learn about your company. Word of mouth is powerful in communities, so engaging with people helps spread the word about job openings.

Social Media Recruitment

If you don’t have an online presence, create one now. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great ways to reach hourly workers. You can ask all your friends, colleagues, and employees to share your job postings. You can hire a talented, low-cost graphic designer on Fiverr or Upwork to create a catchy job ad. Make sure you choose one that guarantees their work based on your approval and has good reviews.

Company Website

Ensure your website has a job board so that applicants can easily apply online. Also, offer an alternative way for them to apply in case they don’t have a computer at home. For example, offer abilities and hours for them to apply on-site. Offer clear and easy directions about your hiring process to help aid those who may have anxiety or are entering the job market for the first time.

Job Hotline

Some businesses have been including job hotlines to post on their websites, billboards, and job ads. Try to create a phone number that is easy to remember so that it is easy to share. Post your jobs there and include information of how to apply.

College and Vocational Schools

As a small business owner, you can make the most of college and vocational schools to find excellent hourly employees. Reach out to these schools to build partnerships or attend job fairs they organize. This allows you to connect with students who are learning the skills your business needs. Consider offering internships or part-time opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience. By doing this, you not only help students learn but also identify potential future full-time employees for your business. Building a relationship with these schools is like tapping into a source of motivated and skilled individuals who are eager to kick-start their careers. It’s a win-win – they gain practical knowledge, and you get access to a pool of talented candidates.

Other fun and creative ways

Research other fun, creative styles. Post photos and videos of your current employees too. Ask them to record why they like working there and make a video compiling all responses. Also, think about having a food truck event or happy hour event. If you run out of ideas, don’t forget to ask others for help. Additionally, ask local stores around your area if you could put a recruiting card by the register or a flyer in their window. You could even get magnets placed on your company vehicles. Look beyond your regular methods for hiringand also research new ways to recruit.

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How to Keep Hourly Employees

Once you have hired your employees, you need to keep them. If your business suffers from high turnover, now is the time to implement some best practices and make some strategic decisions to retain your best talent. 

Hire Great Leaders

One of the biggest reasons employees leave their employer is because of their manager. Hire great managers for your company and know what leadership skills they need. Ensure you are watching turnover and find out why people are leaving certain departments. Talk to employees in those high-turnover departments. Bad managers will blame others for high turnover. Don’t allow excuses and replace bad managers. Make sure your employees are treated well and enjoy coming to work. They spend too much time there to dread coming in the next day.

Follow Good Business Practices

If your managers are not the problem with turnover, then find out what is causing it. Take an honest look at your own business practices and policies. Listen to your peers and employees. If you keep hearing the same problem over and over again, change your methods. Also, lose the “well we have always done it this way” philosophy. Sometimes changes are needed with a growing company.

Flexible scheduling

Find a scheduling software that helps with scheduling and communicating schedule changes.  Employees become frustrated when they don’t know when to work so manually making and changing schedules can be difficult. A scheduling software can make it painless and helps with communicating with employees, so they always can look up their hours. Make sure you are flexible about changes and can help with unexpected life events when they happen. 

Offer A Career Path

During an employee’s performance review or at least once a year, meet with your employees to discuss their desired career path. Many employees leave because they don’t know when the next promotion is available. Talk to them about their interests. If they are interested in going down a different direction in your company, offer some suggestions to help them achieve their goals. Communicating with your employees often helps them know you care and want to help them.

Competitive Pay & Benefits

Try to make your pay and benefits competitive in the market. Many times, people leave because they just get the same 3% increases every year. Also, conduct a review of all your company’s job descriptions and conduct salary surveys every couple of years to ensure your pay is competitive within the market. 

Offer Fun Perks

You may not be able to pay competitively yet in your small business or offer health benefits. However, you should look for some fun perks that will help motivate your employees.  

Final Thoughts On Hourly Employees

Find out what is causing your high turnover by conducting exit interviews, employee surveys, stay interviews, and small group meetings. 

Also, during interviews, candidates may bring up issues they have heard throughout the community. Furthermore, your best recruiters can’t hire for you if you have a bad reputation. Also, review Glassdoor frequently to see what former employees are saying. It is hurtful to hear what they say, especially if they weren’t good workers. However, if there are some things that you hear multiple times from different people, then you need to make some changes. Try not to take it personally and deny responsibility. Just fix it and make your company the best place to work.


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.