Part-Time Workers: A “New Normal” in Hospitality, Retail


NPRAfter years of being battered by a slow economy, retailers and the hospitality industry are beginning to see a “new normal”—relying more on part-time workers to help keep costs in check. These groups of employees are asked to be extremely flexible—available to cover various shifts, often at a moment’s notice.

This new aspect of temporary workers, interns, contract labor and other part-time staff are changing the way many look at the concept of “work.” Increasingly, employees have to make due with variable and unpredictable schedules, making the most of every hour worked.

There are some challenges working within the new standard of employment labor. If an employee is not available when the boss calls, he or she can expect to work fewer hours in the following week. Other times an employee will be called in for a shift, only to find they are not needed—and not be paid for their time.

As the company sees it, this increased flexibility represents significant savings in the mort controllable cost of a company—payroll. For employees, it widens the scope of what is available in the marketplace—especially for unemployed workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Both sides of the equation—employers and staff—are being assisted by technological advances, where HR management software can schedule employees more efficiently—according to metrics such as customer traffic patterns, time of day and other business factors.

Software can also be engaged to match a scheduled opening with the employee’s skill level, seniority and preferences. This helps fill the needs of the employer, by always having the right person on the clock when they are most effective.

The NPR program Talk of the Nation examined the convergence of human resources and technology in the retail and hospitality industry.

You can listen to the program at NPR.org

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