Balsam Hill opened its Dallas outlet store on September 1. After years of struggle, Balsam Hill was finally able to hire workers. The online retailer of high-end artificial holidays trees had to close the next day after four of its five employees quit.
Three of their main complaints? Working on weekends. They found work elsewhere that offered better hours.
Balsam Hill opened again with nine employees weeks later, increasing the hourly wage by $3 to $18 an hour. It also changed its approach. Instead of focusing solely on the business’ needs, it now works closely with employees to create their own schedules, based on what time they prefer to work.
Kendra Gould (senior retail strategist at Balsam Hill) stated that “we’re against people who have to choose where they want to work.” “Now it’s about what do employees need and how can they make them happy.
Hourly workers are demanding flexibility from companies on terms that were once non-negotiable. Hourly workers, like their white-collar colleagues who have restructured their workdays to fit their lives, are seeking flexibility in the way they do their jobs. This means reducing weekend, holiday and late-night shifts.
There are many job openings, so workers have the option to be selective. At the end of August, there were 10.4million job openings, compared to 11.1 million the month before. This is the highest number since December 2000, when government began recording this figure. The Labor Department also reported that August saw a jump in the number of people quitting work to 4.3 million, up from 4 million in July.
Rickey Haynes (62), a pastor at a local Baptist Church, was one of the new employees Balsam Hill hired. Although he retired in July, he still gives sermons in the area. He stated that he was seeking part-time retail work but wasn’t interested in working Sundays due to his preaching. Balsam Hill was open to working around his schedule.
He said, “They were accommodating.” “If I could, they could work with me until I am done.”
ManpowerGroup recently found that almost 40% of job applicants worldwide believe flexibility in scheduling is one of the top three factors in their career decisions.
Data from job sites platforms shows the shifting mindset.
SnagAJob.com is an online marketplace for hourly workers. It says that the word “flexibility”, which was 8% earlier this year, now accounts for approximately 11% of its more than 7,000,000 job listings. Overnight shifts in restaurants have increased dramatically since January.
Instawork, which connects local businesses and skilled hourly workers, reports that the rate atwhich employers were able fill weekend shifts has dropped dramatically from January to August, in comparison with weekday shifts.
These challenges arise as holiday workers are hard to find. Target Corp. announced this month that it will pay $2 per hour more to employees who work on peak holiday days, such as Saturday and Sunday, Christmas Eve, or the day after Christmas. This is on top of bonuses and loosening educational minimums and drug testing requirements that have prevented some people from entering the workforce.
Sumir Meghani is the co-founder, CEO, and founder of Instawork. She says that such perks do not solve the root problem.
Meghani stated that flexibility is what makes Instawork so popular. She noted that the number of available shifts has increased eightfold since August 2021, right before the pandemic. It’s about workers saying “I don’t want work weekends” or “I don’t have childcare or schools haven’t reopened” or “I’m worried about COVID.”
Meghani claims hourly workers want to know how they can achieve the same work-life balance with their remote colleagues.
He says, “The problem is that if you’re a bartender, you have to work until two a.m.”
Due to the nature of their business, employers of such jobs have limited options. Customers are used to receiving what they want when and where they want it.
Radial fills online orders for retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or PetSmart and says it is working to align its schedules with the needs of each location. It’s becoming more flexible with accommodating shifts like Saturday and Sunday only or Monday through Friday only.
Radial’s vice-president of human resources Sabrina Wnorowski says it is difficult to meet everyone’s needs due to the unpredictability of holiday spending.
The flip side is that the working poor have struggled for years with irregular work schedules, especially in the retail and food service sectors. Daniel Schneider, professor of policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, says that the Shift Project, which focuses on the inequality of low-income workers, has some good news.
Schneider said that “the problem isn’t new” and pointed out that job instability is directly linked to day-to-day work schedule instability. This results in high levels of worker turnover, which then imposes cost on both individuals and firms.
Hourly workers were particularly hard hit during the pandemic. Non-essential businesses such as department stores and restaurants had to close for a few weeks in spring 2020. Even those who were able to stay employed in essential businesses such as grocery stores became overwhelmed by the rush of shoppers buying basic products.
Businesses couldn’t find enough workers quickly when the demand for shopping and dining rebounded after more people were vaccinated. Many hourly workers found new jobs after redefining their priorities. This led to a labor shortage that forced employers to seek ways to make their jobs more appealing while also reducing the hours they work.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 68% of the 4000 operators polled by it in September’s survey, their restaurants have reduced the hours they are open from June through August. A survey found that 45% said that they close their restaurants on days it wouldn’t normally be open.
Donald Minerva owns Scottadito Osteria Toscana, a Brooklyn restaurant. Minerva claims that he used to have 16 workers working at his restaurant which was open six days per week, right before the pandemic. Minerva now has 14 employees, but many of them aren’t willing to work double shifts. The restaurant is now only open five days per week and offers limited hours.
Minerva claims that 70% of his employees are from pre-pandemic times and would like to work 40 hours per week. However, the new workers are looking for more flexibility.
Minerva has to be more focused on his schedule and less on prior priorities, such as coming up with new strategies for bringing in customers.
He said, “It’s an effort to find them and an effort to keep them.”