Highly engaged teams exhibit higher productivity, better retention rates, greater attention to detail, better customer service, and more creativity. Companies recognise this. Afterall, employee engagement impacts every aspect of a business and can boost profitability by 21%, according to a Gallup report. So, many companies found ways of improving employee engagement even during the pandemic. From setting up team meetings and training sessions by video conferencing to virtual themed parties, yoga, karaoke sessions, and fun quizzes were organised. The internet is flooded with ideas.
Surprisingly, very few are talking about improving engagement among blue-collar employees. This deserves equal (if not more) attention. That’s because this segment of the workforce forms the backbone for the future success of many companies. Moreover, it is this segment that has been braving infection risks to ensure business continuity, whether at factories, construction sites, driving cabs, or making deliveries.
So, let’s take a step further than simply ensuring they wear masks and take a renewed look at blue collar workforce engagement.
Make Them Feel Appreciated
This does not require huge budget approvals or even a great deal of effort. If you have effective communication channels already in place, even little things can make a big difference in making blue-collar workers feel valued.
*Proper onboarding procedures can make blue-collar employees feel visible.
*Send a Thank You image on WhatsApp on behalf of the company.
*Sending out reminders to wash their hands before eating can be an expression that you care about their well-being.
*Give them clear instructions of their roles and tasks. Most blue-collar workers feel much lower anxiety when they have clearly defined tasks.
*Allow some days of leave with pay.
Employees who have high trust in the companies feel less stress, have lower burnout and higher retention.
*On time salary disbursals, transparency in payment calculations, and UTR (unique transaction reference) confirmations can build trust and confidence among blue collar employees.
*Provide prompt responses to queries related to work schedules, shifts, overtime and benefits.
*Be transparent in marking attendance and recording leaves.
*Using tools like geofencing, attendance tracking, payroll management, and AI-driven chatbots can provide greater peace of mind and improve the contribution and productivity of your blue-collar workforce.
Health and wellness have become even more critical after the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. Thanks to connectivity across the country, companies can identify channels to ensure continuous monitoring of employees and for blue collar workers to indicate the status of their health.
*Consider ways for blue collar employees to quickly and easily update their status, which may include covid-19 positive / negative, temperature readings, symptoms, vaccination status, quarantine status, hospitalisation, or comorbidities.
*Set up a process to take action quickly if someone has symptoms or tests positive.
*Set up alerts if an employee needs urgent attention.
*Improve communication and provide support Get insurance that covers the cost of covid-19 treatment.
Companies can conduct vaccination drives for their frontline staff and give a paid leave on the day of the vaccine shot. Taking prompt action can help employees receive medical attention faster and prevent infection from spreading to other team members. Investing in the health of your frontline staff bodes well for business continuity and increased output.
Also, recognise that the work done by blue-collar employees can become monotonous and often come with harsh work conditions and odd working hours. This segment of your workforce is more prone to health problems, both mental and physical.
*Train their supervisors to have empathy towards blue collar workers.
*Organise pre-emptive medical check-ups.
*Offer insurance cover, with benefits like cashless hospitalisation, loss of income cover, lab tests included, and term life and accident cover.
*Offer virtual doctor on call facility.
Taking care of the mental and physical well-being of your blue collar workforce can help reduce absenteeism and improve productivity.
Improve Financial Well-Being
Your blue collar employees work for lower wages and are often stressed about their financials.
*Open a proper salary account and contribute to their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or Employee State Insurance (ESI) schemes.
*Track overtime work and ensure appropriate compensation is provided.
*Offer access to reliable sources of loans and insurance cover.
*Provide instant salary advance facility.
*Ensure they have access to easy EMI schemes linked to their pay.
Providing financial security can build loyalty and trust among the blue collar workers.
Most employees care deeply about how they are perceived by their co-workers. It’s important to them that their achievements are celebrated by their peers. Streamlined employee reward programs help establish a culture of positivity and growth.
Investing in training and imparting additional skills to your frontline staff can spell huge benefits for companies in terms of improved productivity and better customer service. Companies can train their blue-collar workforce to improve their soft skills, especially when interacting with customers, and use the latest technologies to perform their tasks better.
Upskilling not only fosters a sense of belonging, it can also improve worker prospects, allowing them to earn higher wages and increase employee engagement, loyalty, and retention. Using chatbots, companies can provide upskilling opportunities to their blue collar employees, enabling them to learn at their own pace. Also, companies can also consider incentivizing training to keep employees more engaged.
The corporate world is waking up to the many advantages of engaging and retaining blue-collar employees. Technology will remain the key enabler in meeting this objective with ease and low operational costs.