While the world needs all types of industries to keep society moving, blue-collar workers do most of our important work. If you employ blue-collar workers within your business, you need to go out of your way to show them your appreciation for this important work. If you’re not sure how to engage with blue-collar workers, that’s OK. We’ve listed some practical ways to do so to help you get started.
Recognize and Reward Them
Blue-collar work often goes unseen at the end of the day. For example, if you manage a construction company, you probably focus on what the house will look like at the end of the project. Inside that house, though, is plumbing and electrical work that blue-collar employees did to help the house function. Make sure you recognize this hard work by verbally and publicly showing your appreciation for their services.
You can also go beyond recognition. Create a rewards program for high-quality, efficient work. Each workplace has different reward systems, such as bonuses based on high-quality work or getting to leave the jobsite early if they finish ahead of schedule. Poll your employees to find out what rewards they would most appreciate.
Provide Growth Opportunities
There’s a stigma around most blue-collar work in that it’s a career dead-end. In some companies, this is true, but it doesn’t have to be. While some people enjoy learning a skill and then sticking with it throughout their careers, others want to continue to learn and grow. Some may want to expand their hard skills, such as learning more detailed woodworking procedures, while others may want to expand soft skills, such as communication and leadership.
Provide these growth opportunities as much as possible and reward employees for their growth. If an employee learns a new skill, share that accomplishment with others and consider providing a financial raise. Take note of employees who go above and beyond and try to fit them within your leadership team. Knowing that they can grow within your company and in their skill set will make employees feel appreciated and encouraged.
Protect Their Workplace Environment
Blue-collar work often comes with more hazards than traditional desk jobs. Recognizing their hard work and helping them grow their skills despite the hazardous environment is important, but keeping them safe should be your top priority. Provide the safest, best working environment that you can. Protect employees with a clean working environment, knowledgeable supervisors, extra personal protective equipment, and appropriate training.
For example, don’t ask employees to perform an industrial tank cleaning. There are multiple reasons why you should schedule annual tank cleaning services with professionals, but one of the biggest reasons is that it keeps your employees safe. Trained professionals can do a better job than your untrained employees, as they know safe procedures for the cleaning process.
Engaging with blue-collar workers can help them feel appreciated, encouraged, and safe. These practical ways of creating reward systems, growth opportunities, and secure working environments will create a better relationship between upper management and blue-collar employees and help you retain these important workers.