“Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration”Abraham Lincoln, in a speech before the Senate in 1861
A century and a half later, the state of blue-collar workers is still a hot topic of discussion.
Recent events following the outbreak of the pandemic brought the condition of India’s 40 million migrant workers into the limelight. The feeling of uncertainty and anxiety is much higher among this section of the workforce, given the contractual nature of their work. And, the stakes are higher too, as the work from home (WFH) model is not an option for them. From truck drivers to delivery boys, this segment has supported white-collar executives working safely from home amid the health crisis.
As the economy emerges from the pandemic-induced restrictions, blue-collar workers will return to factories and construction sites. Also, more companies will turn to contractual engagements, to relieve the immense pressure on their bottom-line. In fact, 41% of respondents in a World Economic Forum survey said they plan to use of contractual employees for certain tasks.
So, how can companies manage this highly distributed workforce? More importantly, what can be done to offer them a better life in this crisis? Here’s a look at 5 things CXOs and HR executives can consider to meet the needs of the migrant workforce.
#1 – Hiring and Onboarding
Positioning the right talent in the right job is the first step to increase the satisfaction and success of your blue-collar workforce. This is possible only if you’re able to quickly reach out to a larger pool of talent. Using personalised messages in different languages helps workers feel more comfortable and connected. A person may be a brilliant carpenter and shouldn’t lose the opportunity to put his abilities to the best use just because he can’t speak English. Communicating with a worker in the language of his choice can ease anxiety and reduce the chances of miscommunication.
Companies rarely have onboarding for blue-collar workers. Doing so can make them feel welcomed and instill a sense of belonging. The process is also important to ensure the proper understanding of safety guidelines and other procedures. A mobile-based process can make it easier to onboard a distributed team.
#2 – Power in the Hands of the Migrant Workforce
Thanks to technological advancements, we can bid adieu to paper-based communication. Paper-based communication is impersonal, difficult to update, and impacts employee morale. When companies shift to using a mobile-based process, they need to keep in mind that not everyone will be equally comfortable with the process. So, while the app should be powerful enough to integrate a widely distributed workforce, its UI needs to be incredibly simple. Technologies like facial recognition, smart notifications and chatbots can make the process easier.
Having all the information in one place, with details of attendance, jobs undertaken, hours worked, and money earned, eases the lives of the blue-collar workforce. They don’t need to approach anyone with questions around how much and when they will be paid. In case they have any queries related to work schedules, payment disbursals and other important matters, these can be promptly addressed by chatbots. Transparency can put their minds at ease and help them focus better on their work.
Such an app can also be used to provide personalised training to blue-collar workers. This not only enhances their income generating capacity, but also makes them feel that the organisation cares about their growth.
#3 – Easy Access to Finances
Digitalisation makes it super easy to open a zero balance bank account for every blue-collar worker. Since it’s linked to their profile, salary calculations and disbursals can be automated. Ensuring accurate and on-time disbursals is so important for dignified living.
Financial support, like access to unsecured short-term loans, can be provided to help your blue-collar workforce in times of uncertainties. It’s also possible to integrate Aadhar-based transfers to their families back home.
#4 – Opportunities for Upskilling
Giving your blue-collar staff an opportunity to enhance their skills can increase their efficiency and improve their quality of work. A simple chatbot-based learning tool can help them learn new things at their own pace.
This enables workers to complete a larger number of tasks faster and undertake more complex tasks, adding to their income and improving their quality of life.
#5 – Health Benefits
The importance of prompt medical advice is important during the covid era. Facilities like 24/7 doctor on call and health and life insurance can offer dignified living for blue collar workers and their families. This is an invaluable offering during the pandemic. Companies that extend such support will likely see an increase in productivity, as workers can focus on their jobs rather than worrying about the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. Companies may also enjoy enhanced employee loyalty when they offer such benefits to workers.
Technology can be a great equaliser, making it cost-effective for companies to better manage their blue-collar workforce and provide them a more dignified life. Blue collar employees work in a highly dynamic environment, the adoption of solutions designed specially for this workforce can make the processes smoother, save time for the management and blue collar employees, enhance productivity and make compliance more seamless. Such solutions are the need of the hour, as there is an urgent need to provide blue collar workers a support system, protect them from diseases and give them an environment where they can work safely and efficiently.