Why Your Shift Hours Are Reducing Your Candidate Pool

We spend a lot of time helping our clients understand the labor market, what temporary employees want, and how to build an employee value proposition that will help them succeed in a competitive marketplace. We start each year with an employee preferences survey to gain insight into what potential employees generally want, knowing that each employee may be looking for something specific (we capture these insights in one-on-one interviews). 

This year, we went a bit deeper on shift preferences, knowing that after pay rate, this is the dominant factor in accepting or refusing an assignment. We provided the person taking the survey with choices of shifts and pay rates to see how much a higher pay rate would increase an employee’s willingness to accept an assignment. 

We offered these shifts and pay rates: 

1. 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM (Monday through Friday) at $11.00 per hour. 

2. 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Some weekdays with rotating weekends) at $12.00 per hour. 

The traditional shift was selected by 79.2% of all respondents, with just 20.8% preferring the 12-hour shift with rotating weekends.

Our survey shows that the more traditional the shift, the higher the acceptance rate. That said, there are some shifts that perform better than others. Let’s look at two choices from second shift. 

1. 3:30 PM to Midnight (Monday through Friday) at $11.00 per hour. 

2. 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM (Some weekdays with rotating weekends) at $12.00 per hour. 

Just over 78% of respondents selected number 1, the traditional shift. 

1. 3:30 to Midnight (Monday through Friday) at $11.00 per hour. 

2. 4:00 PM to 2:30 AM (Sunday to Wednesday) at $12.00 per hour. 

This question resulted in 59.1% selecting the traditional shift with 40.9% preferring the Sunday through Wednesday shift. When we changed the second choice to Wednesday to Saturday, that choice fell to 23.3%, cutting the number almost in half. 

The outcome of all the questions we asked and the choices we offered points to two primary insights. First, traditional shifts attract more candidates, and we believe that they provide a competitive advantage to those who offer them. Second, we believe that offering a dollar more for an nontraditional shift isn’t going to radically change the numbers of people willing to accept your shift.

In a labor market that hasn’t seen unemployment claims this low since 1969 (when Nixon was President, as a point of reference), we believe one of the primary imperatives is to improve your employee value proposition.