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The Holistic Approach to Decreasing Attrition Rates in Hourly Volume Hiring

Decrease attrition in hourly hiring

For too long extreme attrition rates for hourly volume hiring has been considered the cost of doing business at BPOs, retailers, QSRs, call centers, supermarkets etc. 

But just because your business relies on volume hiring to meet staffing needs, doesn’t mean you have to accept a higher than average employee turnover rate. 

In fact, making a few simple changes to your volume hiring process can be all it takes to decrease your attrition rate. 

Read on to find out how.

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Why you need a holistic approach

Unsurprisingly, hiring doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Everything in an organization is affected by the people you hire: from employee satisfaction, organizational productivity, employee engagement, even company culture. 

And while recruitment is just one part of the employee journey, if it goes badly, it can wreak havoc company wide. 

If job seekers have a bad experience, for example, you can expect that to influence their behavior if they’re hired. 

Statistics show that:

  • 60% of bad hires negatively impact the work environment
  • 80% of employee decisions to quit are due to the behavior of their colleagues

While the impact of a bad hire can be more obvious in corporate roles, a bad hire can be equally detrimental in hourly roles too, especially when they’re customer-facing. In fact, 39% of businesses report lost productivity due to a bad hire. 

But it’s not just the cost of a bad hire that can leave a sour taste long after they’ve quit. Because word of mouth is still the strongest form of marketing for volume hiring, the reputation of a brand can be destroyed overnight by a few bad hires who turn into unhappy leavers, leaving you struggling to hire.

So, what can you do to decrease attrition rates in your volume hiring organization?

The big picture strategy for decreasing attrition in hourly roles

Employee retention rate is one of the biggest challenges facing HR departments in volume hiring companies. 

The benefits of decreasing attrition can be felt organization wide:

  • Lower recruitment costs
  • Increased productivity levels 
  • Reduced operational costs 
  • Increased employee experience

But to get here, you need to adopt a holistic approach that analyzes your volume hiring process from end to end.  

1. Understand why people are leaving 

Before you can implement a strategy to decrease attrition in hourly roles, first off you need to understand why your people are leaving. 

We work with contact centers, BPOs, multi location restaurants and retailers around the world, and the most common cause of attrition that we see is misaligned expectations. 

Disappointment because a job doesn’t live up to their expectations can quickly lead to resentment, leaving employees feeling like they’ve been duped into the role. 

Other leading causes of attrition in hourly roles include: 

  • Misfit for the role and/or company culture – employees who can’t relate to the role or the company culture will feel out of alignment, and struggle to work well with colleagues. 
  • Poor relationship with line manager – people don’t leave roles, they leave people, and if there’s a strained relationship with the line manager, employees will leave. 
  • Lack of flexibility – today’s workforce values work/life balance and if there is no flexibility in the schedule, it doesn’t sit well with employees. 
  • Low remuneration and/or lack of benefits – employees expect remuneration to support their lifestyle, and benefits to help reduce financial burdens. If the job doesn’t do this, employees will find a new one that will. 
  • Lack of career advancement opportunities – people want to be able to see how their career progresses, even hourly workers want to envisage a future where they advance up the career ladder.
  • Boredom – every job has boring aspects to it, the key is to make sure that they’re not the entire job description. People need to be challenged and learn regularly, or they’ll move on. 
  • Overwhelm with the volume of work – if there aren’t enough people to take up the slack, too much work can cause stress and anxiety. 
  • Lack of recognition for a job well done – working hard for no recognition leaves employees feeling undervalued, invisible and unwanted. 
  • Poor onboarding – if you don’t set employees up for success, leaving them instead to fathom how to do the job by themselves, it won’t end well. 

Taking time to understand why your people are leaving allows you to connect the dots and then decide action plans to fix each cause of attrition individually. 

The 4 Leading Causes of Contact Center Attrition & How to Overcome Them

8 Causes of Employee Turnover in Hospitality

2. Connect the dots

It’s natural that people will leave, the goal here isn’t to eliminate employee turnover. You can’t prevent all employee turnover from happening – it’s a natural part of the employee life cycle after all. 

What you want to do is lengthen the tenure of your existing employees, while avoiding early employee attrition of the top talent, but allowing underperformers to leave. 

The problem is, the best talent are usually the ones who quit first when they don’t feel their needs are being met. They understand their value and know there are better options available elsewhere. 

The goal now that you’ve identified the reasons hourly employees quit is to see how (or if) these reasons influence each other, and how they’re interdependent. You’re looking to see if fixing one of these issues solves the others as well. 

For example, if you manage candidate expectations better during the application process, you can avoid hiring poor-fit candidates altogether.

3. Create an action plan

Once you understand and connect the dots you can create an action plan or a strategy to decrease attrition rates. While attrition is a multifaceted problem, the one common cause no matter your business, is that it all begins with recruitment.

So to start to decrease attrition rates, begin at the very start of the employee’s journey with you. 

For example, if your plan is to manage candidate expectations better and make sure you select candidates who are a good fit from the get-go, then you need to improve how you screen, assess, select, and handle candidates during recruitment (more on this in the next section).

By starting at the beginning, you can track the ripple effect of your efforts over time. If you find, say after a few months, the initial issue is still there, you can then look at the next stage of the employee journey after the recruitment process: onboarding, and so on. 

4. Better manage candidate expectations

When candidates don’t fully understand what they’re signing up for it results in misaligned expectations, which leads to high levels of early attrition. 

For entry level candidates applying for high volume low complexity roles, they’re rarely given the opportunity to fully evaluate the role they applied for, let alone learn whether they align with the company values or not. 

Too often in high volume hiring, information flows one way – from the candidate to the company. Candidates aren’t afforded the same level of transparency in return. 

And when industries like restaurants or retail rely on decentralized high volume hiring, it can make it even harder to deliver the same standardized candidate experience while setting realistic job expectations. 

To manage candidate expectations better, move away from a one-way selection process to a two way approach. Think of a two way approach as a way to share your employer value proposition with prospective employees. When your recruiters are only focused on taking information from candidates, you’re missing the opportunity to sell yourself. 

We help our clients sell themselves to candidates through a range of scientifically validated pre employment assessments. These tests are predictive of success, they enable automation, all the while providing an engaging and informative candidate experience at scale

Our clients deliver this two way matching process seamlessly to thousands, or hundreds of thousands of candidates through a realistic job preview, a situational judgment test, or by providing a day-in-the-life experience during the application process. 

5. Ensure candidates are a good fit

Pre-employment assessments allow companies to combine selection with selling. They showcase the job and company culture to all candidates, allowing them to make an informed decision about whether they think they’re a good fit for the role and the organization. 

You might wonder, in a tight labor market do you want to give applicants the opportunity to deselect themselves from your recruitment process? 

But think, would you rather spend six weeks and $7k training a new call center agent, for example, only for them to quit because of misaligned expectations?

Isn’t it better for both parties if you’re candid about the role before either of you invests time and effort in onboarding? It’s cheaper to lose an applicant than it is to lose a new employee. 

To make sure candidates are a good fit, you need to ditch out-of-the-box assessments and choose a sequence of assessments that are custom-made for your needs, by I/O psychologists. These tests need to be relevant to the role you’re hiring for, which is why we recommend leveraging a realistic job preview to deliver them. 

For example, if you run contact centers and BPOs use a live chat support simulation – a combination of situational judgment test and skills assessment. In retail, showcase critical scenarios through Situational Judgment Tests

Test candidates in the environment that mimics the role for real and give all candidates the valuable information they need to determine if the role is right for them, while giving recruiters the data they need to determine if the applicant is right for the role. 

Stop guessing,
Start data-driven hiring.

Learn how you implement a modern candidate selection process, that is: streamlined, experience-driven and backed by data.

6. Use a data-driven hiring process

Put in place a data driven recruitment strategy and ensure your recruiters have the right tools and processes to collect data, process it, and visualize the results in an easy and effective manner. 

Harver includes a business intelligence suite that our customers use to streamline data collection across job boards, social media platforms, CRM tools, ATS, assessments and interviews, and even employee performance data, creating one single source of truth. 

How will you know if your efforts are working? By collecting data as you go you can continually learn and iterate your volume hiring process. For example, measure the quality of hire before and after you make a change; and measure attrition rates before and after you make a change. 

Let the data guide you, and test and adjust as you go along until you decrease attrition rates. 

So that’s the theory, but what does adopting a holistic approach to decrease attrition look like in practice? 

Case study – Arvato Bertelsmann

Arvato Bertelsmann, a global provider of customer support services, was laboring under the misbelief that a high turnover rate was a necessary evil of operating in the customer service industry.

This BPO was coming up against high attrition rates in many of their locations – over 50% of all new hires were quitting within three months of being hired. 

However, after analyzing exit interview questionnaires, the recruitment team at Arvato learned that misaligned expectations were the root cause. Candidates thought the job would be one thing, when in reality it was completely different. 

The talent acquisition team at Arvato approached Harver to help them optimize their preselection process and create a realistic job preview for candidates that showcased both the role and the company culture accurately. 

At the same time, they also implemented scientifically validated pre-employment assessments specifically designed to ensure that only those candidates who matched Arvato’s benchmarks for skills, personality and culture progressed along the recruitment pipeline. 

The result – Arvato reduced early stage employee turnover by 63%. 

Sitel reduced employee attrition by 45% through digitizing recruitment


Albert Heijn empowered store managers to hire 40% faster


Next steps

Arvato isn’t the only organization we’ve helped reduce unwanted employee turnover. We’ve seen with our client base, companies experience a 35-70% decrease in attrition simply by taking a holistic approach to combating the range of attrition causes. 

Sitel, for example, a global leader in customer experience, reduced their attrition rate by 45% after implementing a range of measures to better manage candidate expectations, including a realistic job preview and scientifically validated matching technology. 

To find out more about how Harver can help you adopt a holistic approach to decreasing your attrition rates, book a product demo below. 

Ready to transform your hiring process?



Alexandra Johnson is a seasoned writer specializing in HR, recruitment and tech topics. When she isn’t at her desk writing, she’s researching tech developments.

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