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How companies are making their semi-skilled workforce feel valued

For most of us, getting fairly compensated as well as getting valued for our work goes hand in hand while taking up any position at an organisation. And while this should be true for any job role, unfortunately, those employed in the semi-skilled sector often don’t get the latter, given our country’s socio-economics. Whether it’s drivers, delivery executives, security guards or housekeeping staff – the bottom line is that their work is extremely critical to facilitate ours. And even though the blue-collar workforce is as integral to any industry as their white-collar counterparts, it’s not uncommon to come across them struggling with lack of dignity of labour across various roles.

But looking at the brighter side, various companies are now making a conscious effort to make them feel invaluable to the company. We also got a glimpse of the same at our recent SkillConnect launch event, where the industry leaders who employ the semi-skilled workforce in some major brands brought up the issue of dignity of labour and shared with us what they are doing to instill a sense of belongingness and self-esteem in their employees.

Welfare initiatives, benefits and more

Athira Menon, who is the Lead, Public Policy, Uber for South India and Sri Lanka, shared with us, “We can pump more money into the market to reduce the attrition, but how long can we do that? So, we came up with driver welfare schemes for our driver partners so that they feel belonged and valued. We introduced accident schemes, health insurance schemes, scholarships to their children and even training their family members to make them employable.” She also added that they had introduced a campaign where they asked the passengers to sit on the front seat as opposed to back seat for making the driver partners feel equal.

Sandeep Kumar, Head HR Operations, Employee Relations & Compliance at Sodexo, said, “We have our golden rules that we stand by to make this workforce feel valued. We train them and motivate them to a certain level. We publish their success stories in our internal newsletter. This might sound like a small thing, but we make sure to pay their salaries by the 1st of every month for the past 20 years without fail. Small things like this can make a huge difference.”

A sense of belongingness and acknowledgment

Publishing success stories is also becoming increasingly common in many organisations. This not only helps boost the workers’ self-esteem but also helps inculcate a sense of belongingness in the company. One of the leading app-based cab aggregators, Ola, started sharing the stories where their driver partners go above and beyond the call of duty, calling them ‘Heroes of Ola.’ They upload the videos showing how drivers go out of the way and display extraordinary courage and initiative in case of an emergency. Their acknowledgment is a step to appreciate the often-unsung stories of the driver partners.

Lack of respect a huge challenge in the blue-collar industry

The blue-collar segment makes up for the foundation of most businesses and is extremely critical for a day-to-day functioning, yet they often struggle to get their share of dignity and respect in their profession, hence affecting their quality of life. At the SkillConnect launch, Vivek Mehrotra, head of learning and development at Zomato, also addressed this issue, saying, “Some of the blue-collar employees we have are today earning as much as the white-collar employees. Some of the delivery executives are earning higher than some of the employees with an MBA. So, it’s just the matter of getting dignity in whatever task they are doing. That’s something really important.”

The industry leaders from the ecosystem generally agreed that the semi-skilled segment needs to get their due in terms of respect and dignity of labour, irrespective of the job role.

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