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Looking at turnover in your local hourly jobs market

With key jobs reports being released this week, including Friday’s Employment Situation data which sets the national unemployment rate, you can’t go wrong with another hiring or careers story.

Hotel staff making the bed

Photo: Intercontinental Hotels

One fresh approach might be to take a look at employers whose main challenge is battling turnover and keeping jobs filled.  Last week I interviewed the head of firm that run an electronic job application and screening service used by more  than 1,000 businesses nationwide; he said the top two traits the screening seeks to uncover in prospective workers are a good customer service attitude and the inclination to stay on the job.  Those characteristics trump experience and many other metrics in the hunt to fill hourly jobs.

And even so, he said, some of their fast food customers still are seeing 100 percent annual turnover among non-management employees.  Another client of that firm, one that operates truck stops and fuel centers across the country, told me he is on the hunt for 10,000 workers a year and that he’s working to refine the electronic screening even further to winnow out those who want a job there only as a short-term stopgap.

Now granted, employers in this situation tend to be offering low-wage positions in difficult industries like food service.  Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’  job openings and labor turnover report report makes it clear that those are the most volatile industries.   This JOLTs report, as it is called, is a little treasure trove of monthly data about job postings, hirings and churn in the national employment picture.

According to Table 8, “quits levels” in the accommodation and food service areas are the highest among all industries, followed closely by health care.   A  a new monthly update is due out June amo7 – and you could generate an interesting workplace, careers or jobs story by talking with hiring managers in the various categories to compare how your region’s turnover patterns track those of the rest of the nation.

A chart or other alternative story-telling method highlighting some of the most frequently posted jobs in your region, how to get hired (reflecting tips from hiring managers) and the pros and cons of each (from present or past employees), could become quite a talker as well as a clip-and-save resource for readers.

Other good story fodder I gleaned from those interviews:  Candidates are increasingly screened for honesty, integrity, attitude and other traits using questions designed by industrial or labor psychologists; it seems to be quite a burgeoning aspect of the placement industry and would be interesting to find some local practitioners or experts to explain the process.  Also, background checking – criminal, motor vehicle, citizenship, credit, education and more – is becoming more extensive and candidates are being asked to give blanket permission for myriad searches.  From a workplace standpoint you could develop some interesting ethics and workers’ rights angles, and the companies that provide these services by tapping into public or proprietary databases would make great small-business or technology features as well.

About the Author

Veteran financial writer Melissa Preddy served as a business writer, editor and columnist for The Detroit News from 1995 to 2008, is a Michigan-based freelance journalist. She now works as a writer and editor for a medical research unit of the University of Michigan Medical School. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Melissa Preddy

Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Great look at the issues that Employers face with high staff turnover in certain industries and the opportunities that it presents for so many people looking for work. At our site, Hourly (www.hour.ly) we have heard from Employers and Job Seekers that the systems for finding hourly work & workers has to be much more efficient, which is our goal with dynamic matching.

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