Got Staffing Issues? Staff Empowerment Might Be the Answer

Empower hourly workers with digital tools that improve communication, scheduling flexibility.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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In Joblist’s Q3 2021 U.S. Job Market Report, the job search platform announced that one-third of current hospitality workers report being “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their jobs – and 58% say they are planning to quit before the end of 2021. This is highly unwelcome news for the myriads of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses who already are desperately understaffed. The worker shortage is so apparent, that content creators across the internet are poking fun at the situation. (One of my favorites is by @johnsonfiles on TikTok. You can find it here.)

The good news is that many businesses are trying their best to help hotels and restaurants attract and keep talent. WorkJam is one such business that emphasizes the use of a digital workplace platform that encourages communication and flexibility. To learn more about why it thinks this type of technology will improve staff retention, HT spoke with CEO Steven Kramer.


As vaccines drive the reopening of businesses across the U.S., companies are struggling to keep up with consumer demand. How can employers in desperate need of labor stand out and attract talented employees?

With businesses struggling to fill frontline staff positions, it’s crucial to both keep your current employees engaged and attract new talent. Showing employees you care about their well-being might seem like a given, but positioning yourself as an empathetic employer can make or break a potential employee’s decision to work at your establishment. One way you can accomplish this is by opening up top-down and bottom-up communication through a frontline digital workplace platform. Clear and consistent workplace communication is essential in eliminating confusion, which is especially important after a year of uncertainty — and only possible if employees have a voice. For example, you can implement a company-wide communication channel for workers to ask questions in real time, allowing leadership to communicate directly with employees. This not only opens up communication between management, leaders, and employees, but compliant and secure communication between employees as well.

With a digital workplace platform you can also share resources like training videos, employee surveys, and task assignments. If you start using a two-way communication channel now, you can help maintain engagement among your current employees. And maintaining employee engagement contributes to employer branding (i.e., a business’ reputation among its employees). According to research by LinkedIn, a great employer brand can decrease turnover rates by up to 28%. Not to mention, nearly 75% of recruiters agree that employer branding plays a significant role in the hiring process.


How can employers prioritize employee safety as the pandemic persists?

Health and well-being are top of mind for everyone right now, especially frontline workers. There are several ways to demonstrate how you prioritize employee safety. Using a digital workplace platform, you can provide resources on COVID-19 protocols, including quizzes about in-store operations and videos on workplace sanitation protocols. You can also set up a health screening for employees to complete before each shift to make sure they aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19.

To help employees make informed decisions, you can provide third-party resources on COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC or WHO. You may not be in a position to force employees to get vaccinated, but educating them through unbiased resources is one of the most effective ways you can encourage vaccinations. You can take this a step further by compiling information on nearby vaccination sites they can go to on their way to or from work. Additionally, reassure employees that they can stay home if they’re sick or need to take care of a sick relative, and not feel pressured to show up under these conditions. By implementing initiatives that improve flexibility, you can show current and potential employees that their well-being is a priority.


Since you can’t provide a “flexible workplace” — also known as a hybrid work environment — to frontline workers, how can you offer flexibility to your hourly employees?

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of flexibility and adaptability in every aspect of our lives, from personal relationships to workplace matters. While many people were fortunate enough to work from home, frontline workers were required to be on-site throughout the worst of the pandemic. For this reason, it’s crucial to offer flexibility in other ways. We’re still in a period of economic uncertainty and many are stressed about finances. So, you can support hourly employees by giving them early access to earned wages. With a platform that offers functionalities like early wage access, your hourly workers can get a percentage of their earnings with zero fees.

Another way you can empower hourly workers is through flexible scheduling. Scheduling is one of the biggest stressors for hourly workers due to irregular shifts, last-minute changes to scheduling and the fact that many companies still communicate scheduling with physical charts. With a digital workplace platform, employees and managers can access schedules in real time from wherever they are. This allows employees to swap shifts, post shifts they can no longer fulfill or take on more shifts for extra cash. If you provide on-demand training materials through your digital platform, employees can access them if they want to learn new skills or roles. And if training is standardized across all locations of your business, workers can pick up shifts at neighboring locations or continue working with the company in a different location if they move. This training setup can help reduce turnover and it’s a selling point when interviewing potential employees. The business benefit to cross-location labor sharing is massive as it leads to better labor utilization within fixed labor pools.

Positioning yourself as an empathetic, flexible employer that gives employees a voice will help you stand out from the competition, maintain employee engagement and eventually allow you to achieve full frontline workforce orchestration. Much of your organization’s success depends on your frontline workers’ well-being, so show them you care by giving them a voice in the workplace and addressing their concerns accordingly.




Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam, is a technology entrepreneur with over 20 years of executive leadership experience in founding and scaling companies developing disruptive, enterprise-class technologies. In 1999, Steven co-founded iCongo, a leading global software provider for omni-channel retail and B2B commerce solutions, which merged with hybris Software in 2011 and became the largest independent provider of e-commerce solutions with 27 offices worldwide, 1000+ employees and more than 600 customers.