By Jason Lamonica, COO — Spec On The Job
It may be a new year, but within blue-collar sectors, the situation remains much the same. There is a significant need for more workers, but companies struggle to recruit — and, more importantly, keep — quality employees in their organization. As such, employers in blue-collar sectors, such as transportation, construction, and industrial operations must be willing to adapt to the unique needs of the modern-day blue-collar worker.
Keeping employees happy
One of the main focuses of employers in 2023 should be talent retention. It is well known that in the current job market, the ball is in the employee’s court. Last year, there were more open positions than people to fill them — a problem only accentuated further within the blue-collar workforce — and that will be the case well into the new year. If an employee is unsatisfied with their job, they can often find a new position at another company more quickly than they can collaborate with their employer to alleviate their concerns in their current workplace.
These days, employees are looking for flexibility in their workplace. While blue-collar jobs tend to be less flexible than white-collar jobs — a remote or hybrid work environment typically isn’t practical in these lines of work, for example — employees still expect to have some level of flexibility and autonomy within their careers. A generic, “one-size-fits-all” approach to the workforce will result in unhappy employees.
Employers will also likely see demands for higher wages continue to increase. Due to the extensive staffing shortages across every industry, both skilled and unskilled blue-collar laborers are in extreme demand. As such, the negotiation power rests with the employee. If an employer is unwilling to meet their expectations regarding wages, laborers can turn to another company that will meet their needs.
However, it isn’t just in their paycheck that laborers want to be valued — they expect better benefits. Extensive PTO packages, 401k options, and healthcare coverage are becoming more commonplace in workplaces employing high numbers of blue-collar workers.
Employees want to feel valued at the company where they work, not like disposable cogs in the business’s machine. Ensuring employees feel valued through these legitimately valuable benefits is a fantastic way to boost employee morale and create an environment more conducive to retention.
Adapting to external challenges hindering the workforce
Several external factors could affect the success of the blue-collar workforce, one of the most prominent being supply chain disruptions. The labor shortage has had a ripple effect. For example, a lack of drivers in the transportation industry causes delays in shipment that then impact the manufacturing and retail sectors. Employers must strive to address these employment needs before they wreak havoc on the entire supply chain.
Employee health is a continued concern heading into 2023 as well. Although the height of the pandemic has passed, cases of COVID-19 still present a challenge for many employers in addition to a worse-than-average flu and RSV season. Employers must be sure to be accommodating to employees when they get sick, lest they risk introducing the illness into their workplace and creating an even bigger issue.
Although job vacancies and employee turnover are nearing record highs, focusing on employee retention can help businesses achieve their blue-collar staffing needs. With measures like increased pay, better benefits, and showing employees appreciation for their value in the workplace, many of the struggles that employers frequently face today can be overcome.