Canadian Manufacturing

Workers fed up with nights, weekends seek flexible schedules

A recent study from ManpowerGroup Solutions revealed that nearly 40 per cent of job candidates worldwide said schedule flexibility is one of their top three factors in career decisions.

October 20, 2021  by Associated Press

After struggling to hire workers for its outlet store in Dallas, Balsam Hill finally opened on Sept. 1. But the very next day, the online purveyor of high-end artificial holiday trees was forced to close after four of its five workers quit.

The main gripe for three of them? Working on weekends. So they found jobs elsewhere with better hours.

Balsam Hill reopened weeks later with nine workers, hiking the hourly pay by $3 to $18 per hour. But more importantly, it changed its approach: Instead of only focusing on the needs of the business, it’s now closely working with each employee to tailor their schedules based on when they want to work.

“We’re working against people who have the choice of wherever they want to work,” said Kendra Gould, senior retail strategist at Balsam Hill. “Now, it’s more about what do you need as an employee and how can we make you happy?”

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Companies are confronting demands by hourly workers on terms that often used to be non-negotiable: scheduling. Taking a page from their white-collar peers who are restructuring their workdays to accommodate their lifestyles, hourly workers are similarly seeking flexibility in how — and when — they do their jobs. That means pushing back on weekend, late night or holiday shifts.

Job openings are plentiful, so workers can afford to be picky. There were 10.4 million job openings at the end of August and 11.1 million openings the month before, the highest on record since at least December 2000, when the government started recording that figure. At the same time, the Labor Department said that the number of people quitting their jobs jumped to 4.3 million in August from 4 million in July.

A recent study from ManpowerGroup Solutions revealed that nearly 40% of job candidates worldwide said schedule flexibility is one of their top three factors in career decisions.

The shifting mindset is showing up in data from job site platforms.

SnagAJob.com, an online marketplace for hourly workers, says the word “flexibility” now accounts for roughly 11% of the more than 7 million job postings on its site compared with 8% earlier in the year. But overnight shifts at restaurants have also increased significantly since January.

Instawork, a staffing marketplace that connects local businesses with skilled hourly workers, says the rate at which employers were able to fill weekend shifts dropped significantly from January through August compared with weekday shifts.

Such challenges are happening as companies struggle to hire holiday workers. Target Corp. said this month it will pay $2 an hour more to employees who pick up shifts during peak days of the holiday season, including Saturday and Sunday, as well as on Christmas Eve or on the day after Christmas. That’s on top of companies already dangling bonuses and loosening requirements for drug testing and educational minimums that have kept some people out of the workforce.