In this era where employee engagement is so essential, one of the best ways to engage the blue-collar workforce is to make them feel valued. This blog will throw light on how organisations can engage and motivate their blue-collar employees.
The business and HR leaders are still decoding the engagement strategy mystery, as reported by multiple surveys. While a lot is being said and done about improving engagement levels of white-collar employees, the other end of the spectrum, the blue-collar is still waiting to see the light of the day.
Who Are Blue-Collar Employees, And Why Are They Significant?
The term ‘blue-collar workers’ refer to people who perform manual labour, categorised into unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled labour based on the nature of the operation they perform.
They not only form the backbone of labour-intensive industries such as construction, manufacturing, oil, and gas, auto & auto ancillaries, warehousing, and pharmaceuticals but also of our economy.
India has long been identified as a nation with cheap labour and MNCs have enjoyed this cost arbitrage, but this scenario is gradually changing.
90% of industries have stated acute labour shortage and observed that with access to education systems, government schemes like MNERGA it is becoming increasingly difficult to mobilise resources to join industries at worker level thus impacting production and revenues.
Besides these external factors, there are some internal ones as well, which are aggravating the engagement issue for blue-collar employees. Factors like high wage disparity, controlled or hazardous working conditions, monotonous and physically exhausting work with no focus on growth, leads to low job satisfaction and high disengagement.
Disengagement of this layer is far more damaging and is visible by the circumstantial evidence in the past where organisations like Honda, Nokia, Maruti had to face the adverse effects of labour unrest. But there are enough examples where organisations have gone ahead in defining engagement differently and reaped huge benefits.
It is crucial for companies to change the way they treat blue-collar workers and look for newer avenues or reform the old ones to drive meaningful engagement.
How To Engage Blue Collar Employees And Make Them More Productive?
Understanding Of This Stratum’s Engagement Driver
It starts with a demographical study of this layer which throws a lot of information related to their lifestyle, expenses, family requirements, affiliations, social needs, and intrinsic motivations.
For example, research stated that this group places a high value on relationships with co-workers, with 72% of workers reporting this to be the most satisfying part of the job. This attribute can be used to design the job in such a way that it provides more interfaces with others and helps them build camaraderie.
Rewards & Recognition To Be More Inclusive And Linked Directly To Monetisation
Blue-collar workers are employees and are no different in their desires to be respected and valued. Organisations can build more inclusive R&R platforms, where they get evaluated and appreciated in the same league as the other white-collar employees.
Introduce platforms that provide them with more visibility in the organisation or give them the option to monetise the reward points and redeem them for a variety of options. Not to forget that money acts as a strong motivator for them.
Upskilling Of Employees
Up-skilling and development is another pocket where engagement can be built. Many organisations are now investing in the higher education of the high performing employees and promoting them to the supervisory cadre.
HUL, for example, runs a program called Step into One (SiO) to motivate and prepare the high potential shop-floor employees and staff for the next role in Officer Cadre. Through the program, skilled labour is being turned into trainers and subject matter experts – giving them a sense of self-worth, job security, and higher job satisfaction.
Taking Care Of Their Health & Wellbeing
The blue-collar workforce is often prone to high levels of stress and health ailments, mostly due to working conditions, financial constraints, and lifestyle habits.
Organisations can focus on introducing health and well-being programs beyond annual medical check-up or on-campus doctor facilities.
Incorporating such a platform provides a wide range of health and wellness benefits including – yoga, wellness products, doctor appointments, medicines etc. Not only does this enable employees to access to affordable health and wellness services and suppliers, but also ensures reduced absenteeism by building a healthy workforce.
It is next to impossible for companies to achieve growth and profitability they have envisaged for themselves by investing only in 40% of the employee population and that is why it is about time that a different engagement platform is offered to blue-collar employees.