Respondents were considered to be clerical/light industrial workers if they identified themselves as working within the following categories:

  • Construction
  • General Labor
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Industrial/Light Industrial

Why workers choose (or don’t choose) a firm

Talent pools remain tight in the light industrial space, and the need for quick placement makes it more important than ever to keep high-quality workers engaged and active in a firm’s database — especially since 59% of these workers report they hope to leave the contingent workforce for a permanent/full-time job in the next two years, if they are able.

Past positive experience brings in workers - pie chart

Access to the right jobs and positive past experience are most important

It isn’t surprising that well over one-quarter of workers listed access to the right jobs as their top reason for choosing a staffing firm — fast and accurate job matching will always need to be a focus for firms that want to remain competitive in the light industrial market. But it is worth noting that past experiences with the firm are just as influential, highlighting how important it is for firms to focus on worker experience and reputation management.

Speed and simplicity are the key to keeping workers - bar chart

Two-thirds of workers who left a firm did so because the process was too slow

Once a worker is lost, it can be very difficult to get them back in the pool. When asked about what made them stop working with a firm, two-thirds of respondents reported it was because the process was taking too long or they found another position before the firm was able to place them. In particular, Gen X workers left firms because the process was taking too long, whereas Gen Z workers were the most likely to want more recruiter communication.

What really drives worker loyalty?

71% of light industrial workers surveyed said they would work with the same staffing firm again. But 21% said they were unsure — what can be done to sway these workers and secure their loyalty? Many factors are important, but clear, timely communication and frictionless time capture and payment top the list.

Worker experience makes a huge difference in loyalty - bar chart

Responsive recruiters and clear job requirements keep workers coming back

A positive experience increases loyalty by up to 86%
The two biggest drivers of increased worker loyalty are recruiter responsiveness and clear job expectations, resulting in an 86% and 79% increase in worker loyalty respectively. Automated onboarding paperwork is also especially important to light industrial workers compared to those in other areas.

Mobile is top choice for time submission

Paperwork automation results in a bigger increase in loyalty within light industrial than any other vertical. Overall, 55% of these workers want to submit their time via a mobile device, and relatively few want to use web- or desktop-based submission tools.

Tailor options by generation chart

How do you prefer to submit your time?

Mobile is by far the top preference for all light industrial workers when it comes to submitting their time each pay period. But there are some interesting generational differences. Fully one-third of Millennials would submit their time on the web, whereas GenX workers overwhelmingly prefer mobile submission. The key is to offer multiple, user-friendly options so workers of all ages can have the experience they prefer.

Direct deposit is top choice for getting paid — especially for Millennials

The good news is that 89% of LI workers report that they were paid on time in their most recent contingent work experience, an important accomplishment given that 74% of light industrial workers who were paid on time would continue working with their current firm — a figure that falls to 50% among respondents who report not being paid on time. There are also some interesting generational differences that staffing firms will want to pay attention to.

Pay preferences differ by generation - bar chart

How do you prefer to receive your pay?

Compared to workers in other verticals, light industrial workers are more likely to want to be paid by direct deposit rather than by check (84% vs. 77%). 15% of other verticals like to receive a check, but that is only 10% for light industrial workers, a 33% difference. The direct deposit preference is especially strong among Millennials, and Gen Z are more likely to want pay cards — a trend to watch for the future.

Over half of light industrial workers want communication once a week or more, while searching for a job or on assignment

It was shown above that an attentive and responsive recruiter results in a huge increase in worker loyalty. But what does it mean to be attentive? For most it means at least weekly communication by email.

Workers want as much communication as possible from recruiters

Across the board, light industrial workers want recruiters to reach out to them more frequently with job opportunities and to stay in close contact with them at all times.

1/4 want communication more then once a week - bar chart

How often do you want the recruiter to reach out with opportunities?

Recruiters are doing pretty well in terms of communication, but they are falling a little short of worker preferences. Most want outreach once a week or more — something most easily accomplished through automation.

97% of workers who hear from recruiters more than once a week while on assignment would remain loyal to their firm

Worker loyalty increases steadily in relation to communication frequency, whether during the job search or while the worker is on assignment. By and large, the only cost-effective way to meet these rising expectations is to invest in automation.

communication drives loyalty - bar chart

Communication while on assignment is just as important as during the job search

As communication frequency increases, so does worker loyalty. And that effect is particularly marked when workers were asked how often they wanted their recruiter to reach out while they were on assignment, both with new opportunities and simply to check in or resolve any issues or concerns.

Half of workers still prefer emails from recruiters

Although other messaging channels may be increasing in popularity, email is still the method of choice for nearly half of all light industrial workers, even more so than in other industries. The data suggest that an omni-channel approach, powered by automation, is the best way to let workers set individual communication preferences and engage on their own terms.

Email is the most popular, but phone and text are important - pie chart

What is your top preference for how recruiters reach out to you with opportunities?

Light industrial workers, like those overall, prefer recruiters to communicate with them by email — likely because it allows them to check messages at their own convenience without interrupting their workday. And light industrial workers have a lower interest in LinkedIn than other recruits. For the most part, talent reported that recruiters are getting the communication methods right, although there is a slight overreliance on the phone.

Satisfaction at each stage of the recruitment cycle leads to 25%+ increase in worker loyalty

Most light industrial respondents are satisfied with their experience, but there are some stages of the recruitment cycle — like job search — that remain pain points for a lot of light industrial workers. And there are a lot of workers for whom the experience of working with a staffing firm was neutral, putting them at risk of being poached by another firm. Overall, the data suggest that all stages of the recruitment cycle matter and increased automation and worker engagement are crucial to retaining talent.

Finding the right jobs remains the biggest challenge for light industrial workers

When asked what part of the recruitment process presented the biggest challenge, workers overwhelmingly cited job fit and job search, signifying that the biggest hurdle for light industrial workers is finding the right job for their needs.

Job search is the biggest problem for light industrial workers - chart

Which parts of the recruitment process were the most challenging?

Clearly, the most challenging areas of the recruitment process for light industrial workers are job search and job fit. More than 40% of respondents cite these as challenging areas. Although filling out forms and logging/submitting time are also important and might offer low-hanging fruit for automation solutions.

Older workers are more satisfied than younger ones

Breaking down the responses by generation shows that Gen X workers tended to be more satisfied with the recruitment experience than their younger counterparts, a trend that could signal trouble as Millennials and Gen Z come to make up more and more of the contingent workforce.

Millennials and Gen Z are less satisfied chart

Generational differences in satisfaction

Gen X are much more likely to be satisfied with their recruitment experience. In fact, 45% more Gen X respondents are satisfied with the job search process than Gen Z workers. Around 15% of Millennial and Gen Z recruits aren’t satisfied with the job search process.

Automation of forms, time-tracking, and payment improve worker loyalty by up to 50%

Crafting a positive worker experience throughout the recruitment lifecycle remains crucial to retaining top light industrial workers — at certain stages it can result in as much as a 49% improvement in worker loyalty.

Worker loyalty is impacted by every stage of the process - bar chart

How satisfied were you with each stage of the recruitment process?

Every stage of the recruitment experience is important, with positive experiences resulting in a more than 25% improvement in worker loyalty at every stage.


Getting communication right — both frequency and method — is crucial to worker engagement in the light industrial market. An automated, omni-channel approach and the ability to tailor communication by worker will allow firms to enhance the worker experience and retain top talent.

And it turns out that every stage of the recruitment experience matters when it comes to maintaining worker loyalty. If firms want to keep the best workers in their database, they need to create a consistently user-friendly, frictionless process at all points in the recruitment cycle. For this market, it is especially important to make onboarding, time-tracking, and payment simple, painless, and available whenever and wherever the workers are.