Web Articles   Digital Editions
Digital Edition Archives

Idea Box: R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Could It Be the Key to Retaining Your Blue-Collar Workforce?
blue-collar workforce, employee retention, employee satisfaction, Conference Board, labor statistics, manual labor, small business advice

By Staff
Date Posted: 3/7/2019

For the first time in decades, blue-collar workers are more in demand that white-collar workers. That’s according to a report released last December by the Conference Board. Based on that fact, it’s more important than ever to retain your labor workforce.

Not only are jobs left by retiring workers remaining unfilled or difficult to fill, but the supply of lower-skilled workers is further limited due to increasing numbers of Americans claiming disability benefits and dropping out of the labor force altogether, as well as the loss of workers due to the opioid epidemic, the Conference Board reports.

Government statistics indicate that those who hold manufacturing jobs are leaving jobs at a much higher rate than their white-collar counterparts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2015, the percentage of workers in manufacturing who left their jobs rose from 1.1% to 1.6%, while the rate for all workers remained almost the same, increasing by only a tenth of a percent from 2 to 2.1%.


The Question Worth Answering

Chances are if you’re in management or leadership at a pallet company, you’ve already had to deal with the problem of worker turnover, as it’s a major source of frustration in the industry right now. But when workers leave, do you know the reasons why? If not, this is a question worth exploring, as it may hold the key to helping you make necessary changes to retain more workers.

In some cases, you may not care when a worker leaves, because they didn’t perform well or caused problems. But when a good worker leaves, unless you know exactly why they left, you might assume that it’s because they found a position that pays more or offers better benefits. While that may be the case sometimes, research seems to indicate that there’s a good chance it may be something else entirely. A study released by Randstad USA late last summer concluded that workers’ personal experiences seem to be more important to them than practical things like pay, the distance to and from work, and the amount of paid vacation they get.

The report found that workers, regardless of whether they’re blue collar or white collar, do often look for work elsewhere when they don’t get certain practical things like enough pay or good benefits. But when it comes to actually quitting their jobs, negative personal experiences are just as likely to be the reason for leaving.

Randstad USA summarized this by saying, “Relationships and respect are what cause employees to walk out the door.” For example, 60% of workers said they’d quit a job over a difficult supervisor, and 53% had quit or considered quitting because they didn’t feel that “their employers recruit or retain high-performing individuals.” In addition, 59% said they thought that their employers valued profits and revenues more than the way they treated their employees.

Among other “personal experience” reasons why workers said they wanted to leave their current jobs were:

• Toxic work culture, 38%

• Negative office politics, 58%

• Understaffing by their employer, 46%

Jim Link, a human resources officer with Randstad North America, was quoted on the organization’s website: “While salary and PTO will always be factors in attraction, engagement and retention, the intangible benefits and day-to-day experiences may carry more weight than you may think: For instance, 58% of workers say that they’d stay at jobs with lower salaries if that meant working for a great boss.”

This one statistic is very telling because it shows that most workers value their treatment by their manager or supervisor even more than the tangible benefit of higher pay. That doesn’t mean to say that they wouldn’t like higher pay or great benefits, but that a lot of workers are willing to work for less if they are happy and feel respected by those who they interact with every day, especially their direct managers and supervisors.

While these statistics are about workers, in general, it’s possible that this point is even more important to blue-collar workers, who already have to deal with the stigma of doing manual labor, and the punishment their bodies take from doing physical work day in and day out.

In our next Idea Box, we’ll explore some things that you can do to make your employees, especially your blue-collar workers, feel more valued and respected.

Do you want reprints or a copyright license for this article?   Click here

Research and connect with suppliers mentioned in this article using our FREE ZIP Online service.