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5 Keys to Attract and Retain Blue-Collar Workers

As we’ve pointed out before, blue-collar jobs are becoming the hardest positions to fill. Much of the current workforce for these positions is reaching retirement age, and the next generation doesn’t have the necessary skills and often opts for “new collar” tech jobs instead. Now more than ever, retaining employees takes center stage.

So what keeps the welders, the forklift operators, the warehouse employees happy? It turns out, white-collar and blue collar-workers want similar things. Certainly, a competitive salary and benefits package are the top priorities for blue collar (or any) workers, but there are other ways for employers to attract and keep talent.

1. Flexibility

Yes, it is possible. In an interview with SHRM, one HR manager noted that anticipated bottlenecks from offering staggered start times never materialized, and unexpected absences were reduced. She also found that even though most employees stuck with the same schedule, morale was boosted by having the option to choose. They key to success seems to be ensuring that employees are allowed to make use of the policy freely, instead of having to ask for flexibility.

2. A sense of mission

Branding affects all levels of a company: If employees, particularly millennials, believe in their work, they are more likely to stay. Badger Balm, a B Corporation, found their strong commitment to mission resulted in more qualified candidates and an attrition rate of 7.2%.

3. Clear communication

From recognition for a job well done to posting weekly schedules well in advance, clear communication makes employees feel valued and contributes to a positive work environment. And be sure to convey messages using an appropriate medium. After finding that mobile phones and email were not effective, one company founder added important messages to the iPad employees used to clock in.

4. Training opportunities

This doesn’t mean simply funding a degree—it’s a chance to develop the employee and fill talent gaps. Management training in particular can provide a pathway to promote from within, and employees being aware of these opportunities will keep them engaged.

5. Hire the right people

Of course, one contributor to high retention is hiring the right people in the first place—something The HT Group can help with. Recruiters in both our Beaumont and Austin offices have experience staffing for light or specialized industrial work. Check out our case studies to see how we helped a rising jewelry designer find over 20 motivated warehouse employees during their busy season.

Blue-collar positions may not seem glamorous, but fostering a pleasant work environment and creating opportunities for growth will go a long way in attracting talent. One of our clients, who has worked with the same company for years, recently shared that he could make more money elsewhere, but the combination of summer Fridays, rewards, and opportunity for growth have kept him loyal to his company. At The HT Group, we make a commitment to live with integrity—which means  treating every placement with respect, from forklift operators to CEOs. Contact us today for assistance finding hard-to-get talent.


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Photo credit: 123rf/HONGQI ZHANG