Blue-Collar Blues: You Keep Talking to White-Collar Workers

June 17, 2022

News flash: Talent exists at every level of your organization.

From C-suite executives to construction workers, every team member has the potential to become a leader in your organization (or at least move to the next level). They bring competency and raw talent to the workplace, and they’re motivated to grow with your company. 

At the end of the day, your people are your #1 asset. They’re the tools you need to guide your organization to success. So, it’s time to stop leaving blue-collar workers out of the mix.

Why? When you treat employees differently, they’re going to feel undervalued. And with so many organizations fighting for top talent, there’s no reason for employees to stick it out with your company if they can find respect elsewhere.

How will you attract and retain top talent? How will you stand out from all the other organizations fighting the talent shortage? It’s easier than you might think—and it all starts with giving your blue-collar workers the same treatment you give to white-collar workers. Here’s how to give your people the respect they deserve.



What Do Blue-Collar Workers Want?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, blue-collar workers have spoken up. They want to be heard, respected, and valued. They’ll actively seek out organizations that treat them as equals, even if that means leaving your company to work with the competition.

What happens if you don’t treat blue-collar workers with the same respect as your white-collar workers? Well, you’ll probably need to replace them. That means you’ll have to pour valuable resources into recruiting, hiring, and onboarding—only to flush those resources down the drain when your new hires leave for the next best thing. 

The cost of losing workers adds up quickly, especially if you’re losing employees left and right. Even worse, high turnover rates can take a toll on your employer brand, making it even harder to fill your talent pipeline with qualified candidates. There’s no getting around it—you need to respect your blue-collar workers to attract and retain top talent.



How Can You Attract Blue-Collar Workers?

It’s becoming harder and harder to find qualified candidates for blue-collar jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recent economic trends have made all types of jobs harder to fill. Between 2018 and 2028, Deloitte estimates that up to 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will remain unfilled.

So, what are you waiting for? To win top talent, you need to step up your recruitment game. Here’s how to give your blue-collar workers what they want so you can beat the talent shortage and turn new hires into your biggest advocates.


1. Audit Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy

When it comes to blue-collar recruitment, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The labor market is tightening: Jobs are abundant, but it’s getting harder to find the right people. If you’ve accepted long hiring times and lost productivity as the norm, it’s time to audit your recruitment marketing strategy.

Why do I need to audit my recruitment strategy?, you’re thinking. Because blue-collar recruitment isn’t the same thing as white-collar recruitment. Instead of following the same cookie-cutter strategy for every candidate, you need to adapt. You can’t just post to Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn and wait for applications to come rolling in.

You need to recruit manufacturing, transportation, and automotive workers where they already are: on social media. Not only that, but you need to spark their curiosity with an amazing employer brand. Blue-collar workers can afford to be picky, so you need to stand out with a knockout recruitment marketing strategy to reel in your top picks.

And remember: You can’t target blue-collar workers with the same messaging you’re using for white-collar workers. Your blue-collar workers have different career goals, interests, and aspirations—and you need to show them how your company aligns with those values. If you’re not sure where to start, create a candidate persona and tailor your messaging accordingly.


2. Rethink Your Blue-Collar Hiring Process

Just like you can’t recruit blue-collar workers the same way you’re recruiting white-collar workers, you’ll also need to tweak your hiring process. 

Complex evaluations are disrupting the application process in every role, at every level of an organization. That’s why so many job seekers abandon applications. But for organizations facing talent shortages, it’s more important than ever to streamline candidate evaluations.

What does that mean for your organization? First, think about your current evaluation process. Most blue-collar jobs don’t require college degrees, so most candidates will skip traditional tests with complex exercises and time-consuming questions, especially if they’re from older generations. In other words, you’re probably losing top candidates before the hiring process even takes off.

The solution? Experiment with new evaluation methods (think: video interviews and gamification). You need to provide a positive candidate experience right off the bat to keep candidates interested in your position—and gamification can be your secret weapon to analyze learning speed, accuracy, and analytical thinking skills without a boring application.


3. Invest in New Hire Onboarding

Onboarding matters. Think about your blue-collar and white-collar onboarding processes. Maybe your white-collar workers are still working from home, but they’re getting all the training they need with Zoom calls, Slack channels, and video tutorials. Are your blue-collar workers getting comparable treatment?

If the answer is “no,” it’s time to rethink your strategy. And yes, onboarding is 100 percent worth the investment: effective onboarding processes attract and retain talent—all while minimizing churn and maximizing engagement.

Remember: Onboarding doesn’t end with outreach and orientation. Your organization should have a go-to routine that quickly welcomes new hires to their roles. At the same time, your onboarding routine should help them integrate into the organization and reduce the frustration of having to figure things out on their own.

So, what should your onboarding process look like? To start, HR should implement a formal onboarding process to introduce new hires to the job. From vetting to paperwork, you should follow a new hire checklist—complete with timelines and onboarding goals—to set every single hire up for success.

During the training process, be sure to communicate clear expectations to your new hires. If you offer opportunities for upskilling, let them know. Tell them where to find their schedule, how to switch shifts, and who to report to. Never leave them hanging without the information they need to succeed.


4. Don’t Forget About Your Existing Employees

It’s no secret that blue-collar workers have different needs from their white-collar counterparts. To bridge the gap and create a level playing field, organizations need to make reasonable investments in their hourly workforce.

After all, mental clarity is paramount to the safety of employees operating machinery, equipment, and vehicles. Over time, disengaged blue-collar workers can take a major toll on your bottom line. The average undervalued workforce is plagued by tardiness, absenteeism, high stress levels, and lost productivity—all of which impact workforce performance and stability.

How can you meet the needs of your existing workforce? Start by analyzing your average blue-collar worker. Do your employees rely on public assistance programs—or do your current wages and benefits cover their basic living expenses? What kind of challenges do your blue-collar workers face? Are they meeting their performance goals?

If your average blue-collar worker doesn’t have the financial security that comes with white-collar jobs, search for potential areas of improvement. Higher hourly rates can help solve their financial challenges. It’s also been proven to boost profit—and it might just be your secret weapon to stand out from the competition.

Along with pay rates, you can create an employee-centered workforce by offering benefits that align with your workers’ needs, such as:

  • Scheduling flexibility: Last-minute shift changes can be hard to accommodate, especially for employees who carpool, use public transportation, or have child care arrangements. Whenever possible, offer flexible scheduling options by making it easy for employees to switch shifts and pick up overtime.
  • Insurance benefits: Countless blue-collar workers have inadequate or nonexistent health benefits, leading to absenteeism, lower productivity, and an increased vulnerability to illness. By offering affordable insurance benefits, you’ll set your employees up for success and show them how much you care.
  • Paid time off: When every dollar counts toward basic life needs, whether it’s paying rent or buying food, missing just a few hours of work can be incredibly stressful. Paid time off and sick days make life easier for your workers, helping them cope with the unexpected without sacrificing their basic needs.



Banish the Blue-Collar Blues

In such a competitive recruitment landscape, you can’t afford to undervalue your blue-collar workers. From recruiting top talent to retaining your current workforce, it’s time to start treating your blue-collar workers with the white-collar respect they deserve.

The clock is ticking—it’s time to banish the blue-collar blues and show your workers how much they mean to you. When you’re ready to shake up your recruitment strategy, we’re here to help.

Download our self-audit checklist and schedule a discovery call with our team to find your weapons in the war for tale

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