What can HR do when blue-collar turnover spikes? - Preventive strategies for a stable physical workforce

Increasing turnover among blue-collar workers is a typical HR red light. It's pointless to wait, you need to act now or you could be putting operations at risk. In a short time, a situation can unfold where productivity stalls, employee morale plummets, and costs skyrocket as workers need to be quickly replaced. 

Wage problems? Be up-to-date and competitive!

One of the main causes of staff turnover is usually one of the most difficult to manage: pay and benefits. In the hope of a better salary, a blue-collar worker may start looking around the labor market and a better offer may prompt them to leave. Workers seek stability and are reluctant to change jobs if there is a minimal wage differential. However, if their pay is significantly lower than competitors' offers and there is no prospect of an increase, more and more workers may leave the company.

It is important that employers regularly monitor industry standards, inflation, and other market indicators. As far as possible, try to remain competitive in the sector through wage adjustments and other benefits. 

Bad working conditions? Take care of safety and training!

If the working conditions are not right, if the workplace is badly designed - especially if it is unsafe - the worker will naturally look for a better place to work. Physical work is often demanding anyway, and if the working conditions make life difficult, the worker will soon become overworked, burn out - and quit.

Safety is a basic principle, but it is also the employer's responsibility to ensure that blue-collar workers are properly trained in occupational safety and accident prevention. Regularly inspect working conditions and try to improve what you can. Ensure a safe, even comfortable, and ergonomic working environment and that workers regularly update their knowledge through training and exercises. 

Digression - a difficult topic, the toxic workplace climate

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for physical workers to seek a way out of a toxic, discriminatory, or otherwise harmful environment by resigning. This is another issue that needs to be addressed. The legal framework is already in place because of the Whistleblowing Directive, but it is also the employer's moral duty to identify - and prevent - harassing, hurtful, discriminatory incidents! 

Creating inclusive and respectful workplaces is the only way forward. Lots of dialogue, team building, workshops!

Work-life chaos? More flexibility and more questions!

Maintaining a balanced personal life around blue-collar workers' working schedules is often more challenging than the classic "office hours". Unpredictable schedules, frequent travel, early morning shifts and other circumstances put workers under extreme pressure. Among the causes of high turnover of blue-collar workers, work-life imbalance is high on the list.

As there are generally fewer opportunities for more flexible working hours in manual jobs, every opportunity should be taken. By offering variable shifts, job rotation, rest periods, and more attention to personal considerations, you can do a lot to make physical workers more balanced and satisfied. From time to time, ask what solutions are needed, and consider the feasibility. 

Lack of career/development, little recognition? Give opportunity and feedback!

Physical workers who are looking for promotion or training opportunities are quick to look for another job if they feel their employer does not give them enough scope. If their careers stall and they don't have the opportunity to develop and try out new roles, they will leave. Closely related to this is when recognition for performance is lacking. 

Employers now need to consciously design strategies to train employees, develop talent, and properly assess individual and team performance. Regular feedback, constructive criticism, recognition, rewards, and learning and development programs need to become part of the corporate culture.  

Poor communication and leadership? Strive for transparency, encourage dialogue!

An important prerequisite for engagement is that the employee is clear about their responsibilities, and how the organization works, receives clear instructions from the manager, can settle disagreements in a calming way, etc. If communication is ineffective, and requests or feedback from managers are not clear, confusion is bound to be brewing - as is likely to be the case with many employees leaving.

Communicating transparently and clearly, especially using digital tools, is not a big effort, but it does require awareness. Reaching blue-collar workers immediately can be more difficult, which is why effective, transparent communication is essential - two-way communication in particular. 

Allow physical workers to ask questions and respond, either in person or on your company's digital platform. Through leadership training, you can also do a lot to ensure that this communication becomes a core value, even an expectation, at all levels of the organization in the long term.

Opinions and numbers are your friends! Collect them, interpret them, and make a difference!

The dense departure of physical workers can put the organization in a very difficult situation. Strategies to reduce turnover are worth thinking about, and of course, there are a few trump cards that should not be missing from your HR toolbox. Here's a quick list!

  • The exit interview is a good opportunity for the employee to talk about his/her experiences and reasons for leaving. From these interviews, the employer can get important indications about the points that could be changed to reduce turnover.
  • Periodic employee satisfaction surveys are also a good way to identify problems, general well-being, and morale. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to prevent disengagement is for employers to address concerns through constructive dialogue and practical solutions.
  • To see exactly how much of a trend blue-collar workers are leaving a company, it is essential to monitor and analyze turnover rates. Data, figures, trends - with good software, you can now get valuable summaries in a matter of seconds.
  • HR's adaptable approach and need for improvement means that the methods themselves need to be reviewed regularly. It is therefore also worth continuously improving your strategies to reduce turnover.

If you would like to know more about how Blue Colibri App can help you with decreasing your turnover rate, book a free demo about our software!