Top 3 Actions Blue-Collar Employers Should Take ASAP

Are you a blue-collar employer experiencing a shrinking workforce or lack of interest in your industry? Here are 3 ways to attract and retain workers.



What do you do when your workforce is shrinking or disinterested in your industry? While this has become a common problem among many blue-collar trades, here are three defenses to keep your company relevant in the job market.

1. Increase job interest

For so long, the employment landscape has put an emphasis on white-collar careers, from early education to on-the-job training. While this may work for many industries, this doesn’t bode well for skilled trades.

To attract new members of the workforce, develop an apprenticeship program that allows workers to learn new skills. There’s an intrinsic sense of accomplishment from creating something with your own hands, and providing opportunities for workers to experience skilled trades will help remove the stigma associated with manual labor.

Perceived lower incomes may also deter workers from pursing a skilled trade. However, many blue-collar jobs offer comparable salaries to white-collar jobs with just a fraction of the investment. Remarket your positions by comparing the salaries relative to the costs of education and training.

Finally, show a definite career track. Workers will be more interested in skilled trade if they know entry-level jobs have potential to evolve into larger roles.

2. Enhance employee engagement

Skilled trade often takes a physical toll on employees, causing stress and exhaustion. Employees may also face very real dangers in their line of work. For many people, punching the clock can feel tedious, with a paycheck as their only end-goal.

For blue-collar trades especially, the first step to employee engagement is having an effective workplace safety program. Employees must feel safe at work to be productive. Hold regular safety meetings and trainings to ensure safe procedures are ingrained in your company’s culture. Make safety a regular topic of conversation and provide rewards to reinforce appropriate behaviors.

The next step to engage your workers is to have effective 1-on-1 stay interviews. Listen to what your employees have to say and be proactive with suggestions they recommend. Find out how they view their job. Discover what skills they’d like to learn. Ask them for ideas of what to change, then follow-up to show your efforts in implementing their suggested changes.

Any effort to boost employee morale will also enhance employee engagement. It feels good to be recognized by managers and peers, which translates to productivity. Train your managers to create an environment where this practice is encouraged and easy to do.

3. Decrease employee turnover

While finding and hiring qualified employees is a big hurdle for many blue-collar companies, retaining them is just as critical. In order to curb high turnover, you need to first diagnose the source of the problem. Is it a compensation issue? A manager or personality conflict? A training concern? Implement software to provide HR metrics and then track the effectiveness of any initiatives you implement.

While identifying the source of turnover is the first step to decreasing employee turnover, you also need a solid retention strategy. This should be part of your company’s overall financial plan. As you safeguard finances through liens and contracts, the same careful consideration should be put into programs and strategies involved in keeping employees engaged.

Some HR issues can be deeply rooted and difficult to address, but every effort to reduce the expensive cycle of costly turnover will have a high ROI in terms of retention.

For more information or help with your situation, please contact our HR experts at

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