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While it seems blue collar jobs are in decline, there’s a steep demand for blue collar workers in several sectors. These positions are difficult to fill—why? Because no one wants the jobs; the workforce is becoming older, and younger generations don’t have the needed skills and choose to work in newer sectors, including the tech industry. In addition, employee retention in lower-level jobs is becoming more difficult. What can you do to acquire and retain blue collar employees?
Why is Blue Collar Employee Retention Challenging?
Blue collar employees often feel like they’re dispensable, replaceable, and not respected for their skills and knowledge. Many workers also feel unheard and lost in a company that doesn’t value them. These workers want to support their families by making enough money to live comfortably. Yet they feel compensation doesn’t meet even their basic needs.
Dispensable and Replaceable
Some companies view blue collar workers as easily replaceable and dispensable, which makes it more difficult to hire and retain good employees. Employers also see these lower-level employees as semi-skilled or unskilled, and uninterested in their jobs.
Businesses are also looking to automation to solve the issue of not having enough workers. Automation can be more cost-effective and efficient, which in turn makes some jobs redundant and/or obsolete. So, the cycle continues with businesses perceiving their employees as dispensable and invaluable.
However, when you have jobs to fill, and no one to fill them, then you have a real problem.
Solve the Problem of Attracting and Retaining Blue Collar Workers
There are some steps your company can take to solve the problem of attracting and retaining blue collar workers. One of the first things your company can do is to change the way blue collar employees are treated and create better methods to help workers feel more engaged with their work and integrated into the company.
Here are some steps you can take to reach out to your lower-level workers:
1) Work environment: find ways to help your blue collar workers feel more respected and appreciated. You can do this by making sure working conditions are conducive and comfortable for your employees to work well. Provide the facilities, rest and schedules that benefit their safety and health.
2) Pay: fair wages and good benefit packages offer incentives for employees to work well. Plus, it makes a worker feel valued, giving them a reason to stay with the company, rather than seeking better compensation and work elsewhere.
3) Job security: give employees the chance to learn new jobs and skills. You might consider assigning current workers to learn new tasks. Not only does this help fill work gaps (from unexpected absences, employees quitting, etc.), but it gives workers a chance to learn and expand their knowledge, with the possibility of a future promotion. Your employees gain a sense of job security and see a way to move up and advance their careers, pay, etc.
4) Communication: is more than just talking to your employees, it also involves active listening. To get your employees engaged, it’s necessary to understand their perspective, how they feel about their work and treatment by the company. Begin by asking your employees what they need and what would engage them. Let them express their feelings and ideas, then actually listen and consider what they’re saying.
Don’t assume you have all the answers and know better than they do. This is a big mistake many businesses make. Start having authentic and consistent communications with your employees and make sure these are effective and produce the results you and your workers need and want.
Find the best ways to communicate with your employees—not all of them will respond to emails or text messages on their personal phones. Find what works and learn how to use it for effective, honest communications.
5) Be honest: part of creating a productive work environment and developing communication is honesty in all things. You want to instill trust in your employees. Honesty not only instills trust, but it also helps to show respect for your employees and their thoughts and concerns in the work environment.
6) Offer training and advancement opportunities: these types of opportunities not only help you to fill positions from within the company, but it gives your workers opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge, along with the possibility of future advancement. These are incentives will keep your employees engaged and active within the company, rather than searching for new opportunities with other businesses.
7) Offer flexibility: flexible working hours and schedules are benefits that give your employees a way to work around their family needs and responsibilities. If they have a sick spouse or child, flexible hours could help them meet both their work and family responsibilities. You’ll retain your employee and they’ll keep their job, while also taking care of their family.
These steps will help your company attract the right people for your positions, while retain the workers you already have. Not only this, but your company will experience new productivity and engagement from workers who feel valued and respected.
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