Earners of minimum wage have unglamorous jobs and are mostly doing whatever they can to make ends meet. This can often leave them feeling undervalued and unappreciated. If you have a company that employs these types of blue collar workers it’s important to address the enthusiasm and motivation. Here we offer important steps you can take to simultaneously improve their attitudes and your company’s performance.

Learn who they are and come to appreciate them

Like any salaried employee, each person who works for you is a person with hopes, dreams and needs. It is your responsibility to value this by getting to know each of these employees as people. When people feel valued it helps them feel important and they give more of themselves to their work. An upside of having these conversations is that it assists leadership stay in touch with what the work is like for the lower wage worker. This can often ladder up to understanding what can be done to improve things which ultimately helps retain this demographic within your business. It is so important to express your company’s gratitude for the ongoing critical contribution they do daily. 

Provide effective training

It isn’t true that minimum wage workers are generally unskilled. Any job can be done efficiently and often this requires training. In fact, without the right training, your workforce will ultimately fail. This will inevitably result in disgruntled employees and you will lose good staff. If a worker is being reprimanded for doing poor work but hasn’t actually been trained to do that work in the first place, this is a recipe for resignation. 

Offer flexibility and offer benefits

Life is tough and unpredictable. Everyone needs time, flexibility and space to attend to life’s surprises. If you create a claustrophobic work environment that forces your worker to choose between work and family, work will probably land up losing. So make sure you offer realistic flexibility and an open door policy. 

This often requires encouraging collaboration and systems to allow for swapping shifts, extending healthcare, and other benefits that salaried employees enjoy. 

Encourage growth

Just because a person is working in a low-paying position, doesn’t mean they can’t grow and become more. In fact, it may well be that they understand your company’s inner workings and have a lot to offer. In cases like these it’s important to provide a clear path to advancement in the company. In fact it’s often much more cost effective to upskill existing employees than to hire new ones. 

Create a healthy work environment

Often lower wage employees work away from the head office in warehouses or separate buildings. This kind of physical separation can cause them to feel alienated when it comes to working on company culture. So it is critical to ensure that the values and high standards you have set filters right the way through your business, all the way to the workshop. 

Another important way to create a warm working environment is to attend to the unique needs of each department. Whether it is improving tea times with refreshments or increasing pay beyond minimum wage, a little effort goes a long way. 

Communicate effectively

When a worker feels like they don’t know what’s going on in their workplace, they tend to feel less important. So ensure that you include minimum wage workers in regular meetings to explain the company’s bigger picture and how everyone is contributing to that. Help them see how they are a valuable part of the end game. 

Recognize the contributions of your employees

Don’t underestimate the importance of a thoughtful certificate or a gift of appreciation. All employees, no matter how small the job, want to feel like their contribution’s matter. When done publicly this is even better and can substantially improve staff morale.

The bottom line

Minimum-wage employees should not receive minimum attention. In fact, the nature and dynamics of their work often means they need more time and effort to ensure they are happy working in the business. This comes down to good communication, helping them feel valued, training them well and offering benefits. When you think about them as people (and not ‘low pay cheques’) it’s not hard to understand. And when armed with this realisation your business will enjoy and army of brand ambassadors, meaning it is you who will really reap the benefits.

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