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How to understand, engage and retain hard-to-reach hourly workers

Written by Alida

Published July 21, 2022

Seasonal and hourly workers are notoriously hard-to-reach and harder still to retain. Learn how you can increase engagement, get more survey completes, and instill more loyalty.


If you’ve ever worked in a coffee shop, a burger joint, or manning the counter at a department store, you are aware of the fluidity of hourly retail employees. Faces you’ve grown accustomed to are gone the next day without as much as a “see you later.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise: seasonal and hourly employees don’t feel as much loyalty towards the brand/employer, which results in higher turnover, a costly occurrence that also impacts the customer’s experience. In addition, because they’re so scattered throughout the organization, not always reachable and are often employed part-time or short-term, it’s hard to ensure a consistent company culture.

This phenomenon became more pronounced during the COVID pandemic so-called “great resignation”. Burnout and with little to lose, hourly workers left in droves. Currently, more than 90% of retailers are facing talent shortages and many are facing workforce unionization talk.

And yet, hourly employees remain key to the business and the customer experience: They’re the workers on the ground and have more direct, face-to-face contact with customers than anyone else in the company.

Consider this: 42% of customers said unhelpful staff was high on the list of what causes a bad experience. Your product or service may be aces, but gaining, retaining, or losing a customer may come down to that employee working one five-hour shift a week. 

Most employers are aware of the correlation between employee and customer satisfaction score, as well as employee turnover and customer churn.

In the best case scenario, however, hourly employees may feel empowered to address customer questions and share their insights up the chain. 90% of customer facing employees said they understood the needs of customers.


Solving the reachability challenge is key

In the gig economy, retailers hiring hourly workers are competing against anyone offering flexible work, including rideshare providers (Uber, Lyft), delivery services (Capsul, Grubhub), and personal shoppers (Instacart, Shipt) to name a few of the new employers joining the market in the last decade.

To woo hourly workers, top retailers are increasing wages, investing in perks such as education and health benefits, and investing in tech that makes workers more efficient. In fact, 83% of retailers are most heavily investing in recruitment and retention above other priorities.

Since employees hold most of the cards, employers need to know what efforts will have the most impact in order to allocate their resources more efficiently. Rather than trying several approaches in the hope that one sticks, the intelligent way to go about it is to uncover what hourly workers want and act accordingly.


Increase employee engagement and retention

Alida’s comprehensive and customizable Employee Experience (EX) solution helps businesses uncover what matters the most to their employees, identify likely churners, and determine where to prioritize efforts to improve engagement and retention. A focused effort may inspire them to stay longer, work harder, become your biggest advocates and recommend others.

Through the Alida platform, you can…

  • …get more survey completes from hard-to-reach hourly and seasonal workers by offering simple, two-question surveys via QR codes, SMSs, on-location kiosks, and more.
  • …identify churn propensity and trigger follow-up surveys for those workers most at risk.
  • …recognize negative sentiment in voice and text feedback and take quick action.
  • …automate surveys and communications based on employee milestones or the addition of new employees.

Alida allows for segmentation and granular analysis by sub-brand, geography, franchise owner, job type, longevity full-time vs part-time, and other hourly workforce traits. In addition, we help retailers engage and get feedback from hard-to-reach hourly employees, some of whom may not have a company email address or known mobile number.


Employees are any organization’s greatest asset. With record-high turnover rates among seasonal and hourly employees, how do you measure and respond to the needs of your workforce? Learn from industry experts and thought leaders on the best practices for successful and impactful VoE and DE&I programming, and hear how Alida and our partners are leading with employees top of mind.