Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the best of humanity has really shown through. Doctors, nurses, and other medical workers have dedicated so much time and effort to helping the sick, knowing that they are risking their lives in each moment. These past few weeks, people all over the world have commended these individuals for their hard work and bravery. However, I had a thought when seeing these commendations, that I hope that people also acknowledge the hourly employees – the workers of the hour – who also put their lives on the front line each and every day.
The probability of hourly employees contracting the COVID-19 is immense, as, unlike those in the medical field, many workers in hourly industries are not provided with protective equipment, like a face mask and gloves. If you’re a cashier, there’s not much that can separate each customer you serve, besides the register. You also don’t know if any customers could be carrying the virus and just not showing symptoms. All in all, not the best situation to be in. Other hourly workers, like waiters and retail associates, face similar issues. What are some ways people can support them?
As I’ve mentioned above, hourly workers should also be acknowledged for their contributions to customers. People could post appreciation notes to them on various social media platforms, like Twitter and Instagram. We could even get a hashtag trending! My idea would be #WorkeroftheHour, after the saying “man of the hour”, but, I think that anything would be a great effort. Another thought is to have a day dedicated to just hourly employees. Employers could them and give a bonus, or special event. Don’t just let this be a one-time thing either. Even before this pandemic, hourly workers have really gone above and beyond when it comes to customer service.
Coincidentally enough, as I was writing this article, Kroger decided to boost the wages of frontline hourly workers by $2. The best part is, they called it a “hero bonus.” Hopefully, with the second-largest general retailer having made the decision to increase the wages of hourly workers a bit, other conglomerates will quickly follow suit. The sooner, the better, as hourly workers have been struggling to pay their bills even before the virus struck. Now that it’s arrived, hourly workers are only in even more need of monetary assistance. If these hourly workers get sick, they are far less likely to be able to support their families than doctors and nurses.
While it is difficult to set up barriers for hourly workers in industries like foodservice, those in other industries would definitely benefit from these aids. Employers should be implementing barriers to minimize contact between them and their customers. Many essential companies have begun to do this, but we must advocate for all to do so. Essential employees should have access to gloves and face masks while working. The health and safety of workers should be a company’s number one priority.
There is a trend going around where every time you have a drink or meal, you sent a tip (via Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp) to a bartender or food server that you know. This is a great way to show appreciation, to let the world know that you are advocating for your hourly workers. Do you live with a worker of the hour? If so, make sure to support them during this difficult time, in whatever way you can.
There are definitely more ways one can help hourly workers, such as creating petitions for their needs. Feel free to brainstorm some ideas and take action however you can. Be there for them when they were there for you. Every small step you take during the pandemic to advocate for your worker of the hour is benefitting them.
Bentley University 2022