Being CEO of a company with an 18,000-strong facilities management workforce, the employee engagement process has been intense and rewarding. But it is complex to manage their expectations and gain trust.
But I have had some life-learning experiences that helped me to align my organizational priorities with those who work for it. This provided me with a sneak preview into their issues and hardships. Being more than two-third of our workforce made them the centre of our human resources strategy.
In general, there is a vast lacuna in this particular employee engagement, with limited employer outreach and requires a major fix. Their relationship with employers are mostly transactional, confined to conventional engagements of employee wellbeing and work-related aspects. Most organizations do little to realize their full potential, with no solid measures for their inclusion into the organizational mainstream.
Especially in labour-centric industries like manufacturing, services, logistics and construction, with more than 50 per cent representation for blue-collar workers, not much is factored about their holistic needs beyond basic wellbeing.
Their development is vital to the overall welfare, and yet often overlooked. Even employee wellbeing is mostly done based on conventional staff-centric measures with limited motivational impact and not a 360-degree engagement.
Right sort of engagement
However, to correct this long-term anomaly, it is time for company stakeholders to first understand their mindsets and their world. These people have inhibitions, ethos, and a trust deficit with the social system itself. They have deeply embedded grudges derived from life-long hardships. Business leaders have to make conscious efforts to push for reforming their organizations.
Not just businesses, but governments have to contemplate action plans to elevate their standards as they represent almost 50 per cent of the global workforce.
A blue-collar workforce development primarily requires strong management support for its desired impact. For seamless integration of these workers into the mainstream organization, the stakeholders have to make conscious efforts to tweak company culture.
Success stories of some of the most exceptional organizations like Unilever, P&G and Ford foretell the success of such strategies. It is no brainer that higher progression for the blue-collar workforce is a definitive business booster as it improves employee morale with substantial financial benefits. However, it is complex, and needs strong execution with a learning and development strategy, especially with a focus on reskilling/upskilling.
A successful progression of the workforce is needed to uplift them as well help address their woes. It serves as a genuinely sustainable business advantage. To make it work, a positive executive engagement is required and not just for compassionate postures.
Organizations need to build a culture with motivated executives and managers to achieve an ideal engagement with this section of the workforce. Building trust with them requires an understanding of their needs and behaviours that are deeply rooted to their ecosystem.
To reach them, we have got to build a bridge that connects to their minds and hearts. Organizations need to realign their mission with this group in mind, and not just of executives and managers.
- Tariq Chauhan is Group CEO at EFS Facilities Services Group.