October 24, 2019

By Brian Devine, EmployBridge Senior Vice President, Brand Strategies

With U.S. unemployment remaining at historic lows, the struggle for hourly workers will intensify to an epic battle this holiday season as companies seek to add temporary help for the year-end rush in the manufacturing, logistics and light-industrial sectors, according to EmployBridge.

Old Tactics Won’t Work

It will take far more aggressive and innovative recruiting and retention methods to meet this peak season demand than in past years. The labor market is tighter than ever with record low employment and more job openings than available workers. Employers are experiencing challenges like never before in trying to hire seasonal talent in the fourth quarter and dusting off last year’s peak season plan won’t work. They will need to pay competitively and be creative in providing a rewarding culture to keep employees engaged.

EmployBridge, America’s largest industrial staffing firm, continuously monitors labor trends based on big data, sophisticated analytics, surveys, and other feedback from thousands of client companies and contingent workers in logistics, manufacturing, transportation and other industries.

During 2018’s peak season, EmployBridge’s ProLogistix division saw a 28 percent increase in associate workers on assignment between September and early December. Based on current market trends, EmployBridge is preparing for an even larger surge in logistics labor demand this year. Retailers are also driving fresh labor demand, with department store Kohl’s alone expected to add 90,000 seasonal positions.

It Will Only Go Up From Here

employbridge peak interest
Peak impact projections on logistics staffing.

Anticipated increases in headcount and pay rates for the peak season. EmployBridge is anticipating a 28% increase in headcount demand (compared to the average number of associated deployed in September), and a 9% increase in pay rate (compared to the average pay rate for the rest of the year)

Who You Need To Win Over (And How To Do It)

To meet peak season labor demands, the most successful employers will start early and offer pay rate premiums along with flexible work schedules and shorter shifts to attract people who aren’t currently working and those who want to supplement their income with additional part-time shifts.

About 100 million people in the US over age 16 are not working right now, with roughly half of these being over 65. For peak season, employers have a large opportunity to appeal to students, stay-at-home parents, seniors and others who could be brought into the workforce with part-time roles and flexible schedules. With so many jobs available, companies must find new ways to reduce turnover and attract second-shift workers who already have jobs – this may be the tipping point in meeting demand.

During year-end peak, EmployBridge’s specialty brands work with clients to develop aggressive but workable plans, add incremental recruiting resources, deploy effective technology tools, and leverage social media and other available means to spread the word about job openings.

With nearly 10,000 clients, we have the breadth and depth of data and analytics to understand current trends and anticipate where they’re headed. And we’re not just crunching numbers. We’re continuously talking with both client companies and job seekers to understand their outlooks.

What The Employees Are Telling Us

In July, EmployBridge released the “Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker,” a study based on the views of more than 18,500 hourly workers in 45 states. The company believes this is the largest such survey of blue-collar workers ever conducted.

According to the study, 26 percent of employed hourly workers are actively looking for new jobs while another 30 percent are passively interested in new roles. Initial pay rates, job security and benefits are hourly workers’ top priorities when evaluating new jobs.

Too many employers have traditionally taken hourly workers for granted, wrongly viewing them as replaceable. But good workers know they are valuable, particularly in this labor market. Ultimately, employers who do not value their people and treat them with respect are going to lose them.

In addition, 95 percent of hourly workers surveyed by EmployBridge said they would be willing to invest personal time to gain new skills. Nearly a third said they would invest at least five hours of their own time per week. This means hourly employees are looking for a value add beyond their hourly wage. Even seasonal employees want to feel like their company is investing in them. In the competitive market we’re living in, investing in your hourly employees growth will set you apart from the competition.

In two years, more than 25,000 EmployBridge associates have enrolled in the Better WorkLife Academy, which recently expanded to offer new life skills classes, recognition badges for reaching milestones in long-term training courses, and a high school diploma program.

“Hourly workers want to gain new skills, and we’re helping our associates expand their career horizons with free skills classes through our Better WorkLife Academy,” says EmployBridge VP of Associate Experience and Advancement Cathi Canfield.

Win Great Workers

In order to attract top talent, you need to provide your hourly and seasonal employees with something worth their while. Competitive wages, an enjoyable company culture, and value add-ons like investing in the personal development of your employees will set you apart from the pack and help you win great workers this holiday season.

brian devine employbridge
Brian Devine

Brian Devine, Senior Vice President, EmployBridge:
Since 1999 Brian has led ProLogistix, establishing it as one of EmployBridge’s most successful businesses. During his tenure with EmployBridge, he has held positions including Area Vice President and Division VP of ResourceMFG prior to his current position.