Table of Contents

In this era where employee engagement is so important, one of the best ways to engage a blue-collar team is to make them feel they matter. According to Randstad, the requirements of blue-collar employees are changing, given the economy and the evolving business style. This means the organization must adapt and revisit its engagement strategy to reconnect the blue-collar workers thoroughly. 

As reported by multiple surveys, the business and HR leaders are still decoding the mystery of the engagement strategy. While a lot is being said and done about improving engagement levels of white-collar employees, the other end of the spectrum, the blue-collar, is still waiting to see the change in engagement take place.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, blue-collar workers have repeatedly reported lower engagement across the team and lower job satisfaction than their white-collar counterparts, with only 55% sharing their overall job satisfaction. 

A Gallup poll in August 2013 found that only 23% of blue-collar workers were satisfied with their employer's retirement plans, which acts as a traditional engagement tool for this stratum of the workforce. Blue-collar workers were also unhappy with job stress and wages; only 30 and 33 % were satisfied with these two work issues.

This puts the HR team on the pedestal to rethink the engagement strategy that includes different types of workers in the organization. Therefore, this blog post shares ways to engage blue-collar employees and keep them engaged.

Who are Blue-collar employees and why are they important?

Blue-collar workers perform manual labor, categorized into unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled labor based on the nature of their operation.

India has long been identified as a nation with cheap labor, and MNCs have enjoyed this cost arbitrage, but this scenario is gradually changing.

90% of industries have stated acute labor shortage and observed that with access to education systems government schemes like MNERGA, it is becoming increasingly difficult to mobilize resources to join initiatives at the worker level, thus impacting production and revenues.

Besides these external factors, some internal ones aggravate the engagement issue for blue-collar employees. Factors like high wage disparity, very controlled or hazardous working conditions, monotonous and physically exhausting work with no focus on up-gradation or growth lead to low job satisfaction and high disengagement.

Disengagement of this layer is far more damaging. It is visible by the circumstantial evidence in the past where organizations like Honda, Nokia, Maruti had to face the adverse effects of labor unrest. But there are enough examples where organizations have gone ahead in defining engagement differently and reaped enormous benefits.

Thus companies need to change how they treat blue-collar workers and look for newer avenues or reform the old ones to drive meaningful engagement.

How to engage Blue collar employees and make them more productive?

One of the best ways to engage a blue-collar team is to make them feel that they matter. Here are the ways to throw light on how organizations can engage their blue-collar employees.

1. Understanding of this stratum’s engagement driver

It starts with a demographical study of this layer which throws a lot of information related to their lifestyle, expenses, family requirements, affiliations, social needs, and intrinsic motivations.

For example, research stated that this group places a high value on relationships with co-workers, with 72% of workers reporting this to be the most satisfying part of the job. This attribute can be used to design the job so that it provides more interfaces with others and helps them build camaraderie.

2. Rewards & recognition to be more inclusive and linked to direct monetization

Blue-collar workers are employees and are no different in their desires to be respected and valued. Organizations can build more inclusive R&R platforms, where they get evaluated and appreciated in the same league as managerial employees.

Introduce platforms that provide them with more visibility in the organization or give them the option to monetize the reward points and redeem them for various options. Not to forget that money acts as a strong motivator for them.

3. Upskilling of employees

Up-skilling and development is another pocket where engagement can be built. Many organizations are now investing in the higher education of high-performing employees and promoting them to the supervisory cadre.

HUL has launched the Step into One (SiO) pioneer program to motivate and prepare the high potential shop-floor employees and staff for the following role in Officer Cadre.

SiO places the responsibility for the career growth of shop-floor employees and staff on the line manager, HRBP, and the individual. There are programs where skilled labor is being turned into trainers and subject matter experts. These interventions give them a sense of self-worth, job security, and higher job satisfaction.

4. Taking care of their health & wellbeing

‍A survey by NCBI shows that this group reports a high level of stress and health ailments mostly due to working conditions, financial constraints, and lifestyle habits.

Some companies have run programs for up-skilling spouses of workers to enable them to have alternate sources of income to contribute to the family income and improve the standard of living.

While others have grappled with the issue of alcohol consumption by running counseling and rehab programs, thus countering chronic absenteeism indiscipline and loss of productivity.


Empuls a saas platform has understood these organizational challenges well. It offers solutions by gifting customized experiences, vouchers, rewards point mechanisms for blue-collar employees (and it can be linked to productivity points) and giving them more visibility in the organization.

I wish to reinstate the fact that it is near to impossible for companies to achieve growth and profitability they have envisaged for themselves by investing only in

40% of the employee population and it is about time that a different engagement platform is offered to blue-collar employees.
Unlock the Biggest Secret of Engagement to Retain your Top Performers.
Learn how

Malavika Mallya

Malavika Mallya LinkedIn

Malavika Mallya is a Marketing and Pre-Sales specialist from Bengaluru, Karnataka.