Beyond basic training: Three tips for getting the most out of hourly workers.

When it comes to salaried employees, training and on-boarding receive your full attention. You conduct research, come up with snazzy slogans and meaningful acronyms, hire experts, measure retention…and repeat.

But what about your hourly employees? Do you make the same commitment? Or is it trial by (deep) fryer?

Just because the typical hourly employee is likely to change jobs more than once a year, your 100% turnover rate isn’t an excuse not to “waste” money on strategically training these employees. Rather, it’s an opportunity to improve retention with a little training science and a lot of common sense reinforced.

Here are three training tidbits to keep in mind for countering your hourly workforce turnover:

1. Make lists.
There’s no better ammunition to shoot down assumptions than a list. You might hope or even truly believe new hires will have uniforms, welcome kits and a job buddy on Day 1. But unless these conditions are committed to a consistent list of what should greet hourly workers on their first day of work, it’s not likely to go flawlessly. It’s easy to assume a new employee knows where to park, but when her Honda Civic is being towed right before closing time, it’s going to be awkward for everyone. Remember to make similar checklists when workers have completed their first week, month and other milestones.

2. Spend more to get more.
Do you know how much of your overall budget is dedicated to training? You may not, but the Best Companies to Work for in America certainly do. And they set an ambitious standard. According to the Great Place to Work Institute, the Top 25 small companies allocate 4% of their total budget toward training on average, while medium companies spend 3%. This translates to an average of 51 and 49 hours of training per employee, respectively. You may not have a training toolbox, but at least now you have a measuring stick.

3. Lay the groundwork for longevity.
In “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job,” author Patrick Lencioni names three things to avoid from the first day workers punch the clock: Anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurability (admittedly not a word). This means you need to show a genuine interest in employees’ lives, demonstrate how their role makes a real (positive) difference, and give them a means of tracking their performance.

None of these findings are earth-shattering…when it comes to training your salaried positions. But your frontline workers need an on-boarding plan, too. And just think: The more you focus on hourly training, the less frequently you’ll have to actually perform it.

• Read more about training hourly workers here.
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