The Ultimate Guide to Employee Retention Strategies for Blue Collar Industries

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Retention Strategies for Blue Collar Industries

Are you looking for ways to keep employees engaged and committed to your organization? In a massive labor shortage, employee retention is one of your best tools for hedging against the uncertainty. That's why we've compiled all of our best resources on retention in one place to make it easier for you to access the information you need. 

Here, you'll find articles, tips, and best practices to help you improve employee retention in manufacturing, the home services, construction, and other skilled trades industries.

This ultimate guide will outline:

  • The 4 essential components of employee retention
  • The right approach for leaders and management to see success from their retention efforts
  • Retention tactics and trends catered to blue collar industries
  • Tools and techniques to track and improve retention progress
  • And much more!

After reading this guide, you'll have the knowledge and resources to create a retention strategy that works for you.


4 Components of Employee Retention


To build a dedicated team, lower costs, and minimize the interruption of recruiting new employees, you must create retention strategies that are tailored to fit your company's individual objectives. But there are 4 core retention elements that should be part of any retention plan:

4 Core Elements EVERY  Retention Plan Should Have

1. Culture


Creating a positive and rewarding workplace culture is key to employee retention. The culture in many blue-collar industries can be particularly challenging, with long hours, grueling tasks, and even dangerous situations. So it takes a dedicated effort to improve company culture to keep employees engaged and loyal.

Business owners and HR teams should consider changes to the work environment that will make employees feel valued. This includes:

Building a great workplace culture is essential for creating an environment where people feel appreciated and inspired.

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2. Pay, Perks, Benefits and Incentives


There are endless ways to improve employee retention. Staying competitive with pay and benefits is the most obvious way, but most of your competitors are likely offering similar packages… 

That’s why it’s important to look at your total rewards and find opportunities for innovative retention strategies like:

  • Workplace flexibility (e.g. ability to dispatch from home, ability to leave during work for errands or doctors appointments, scheduling to accommodate childcare, etc.)
  • Employee referral incentive programs
  • Reimbursements for PPE and other work gear
  • Company sponsored breakfasts or lunches
  • Performance-based bonuses, raises, or formal employee appreciation programs
  • Wellness programs
  • Employee stock options and profit-sharing plans
  • Unique perks like experiential rewards (e.g. paid vacations, tickets to sports games, group outings, training sessions that focus on career growth, etc.)
  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Mental health benefits

By going above and beyond the standard wages and benefits, you’ll eliminate the competition and become the obvious choice for both candidates and current employees.

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3. Professional Development


Skilled trades workers are retiring fast and the available workforce is not prepared to fill their shoes. To keep retention rates high, employers should give access to development opportunities that allow employees to grow from within, better their skills, and stay up-to-date on industry trends:

  • Each department should have a defined path for advancement
  • Each employee should have a personalized career development plan based on their goals (e.g. management track vs. specialization)
  • Employees should be provided with optional training, both work related (e.g. communication) and non-work related (e.g unskilled workers meal planning or financial literacy)
  • Apprenticeship programs should be created in-house to help unskilled labor move up the ladder

Even small and medium sized companies can offer employee growth opportunities to show that you are invested in your team's success, which is key for increasing retention rates.

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4. Engagement


Retention in blue collar industries is about giving individuals incentives to stay. This starts by shifting their focus from merely working a job to developing a lifelong profession. 

To accomplish this, blue collar companies should strive to create an engaging work environment. This happens by fostering meaningful relationships between management and employees through:

  • Establishing an employee journey that is just as well-developed as your customer journey
  • Keeping new hires engaged with retention activities (e.g. team building activities, surveys, onboarding programs, mentorship opportunities, etc.)
  • Making sure employees have open channels for voicing their concerns and offering feedback to management at regular intervals (e.g. one-on-ones, team meetings, regular reviews, text message surveys, etc.)
  • Establishing an atmosphere of transparency from leadership in order to maintain the trust of employees and keep them informed about updates and changes
  • Communicating effectively and regularly to reduce misunderstandings and provide clarity
  • Investing in training for managers to minimize retention issues related to poor management (e.g. micro-managing or a lack of communication)
  • Adapting to the needs of employees in minority groups
  • Motivating and adequately challenging employees to reach their best potential without overwhelming them or creating unsafe working conditions
  • Holding individuals accountable to their responsibilities

Engaging employees in deskless roles comes with unique challenges that other industries don’t have to face… 

By investing in healthy, long term relationships with each unique employee, you're sure to see retention rates on the rise.

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Leadership & Managing for Retention


In the skilled trades, home services, construction, and manufacturing, knowing how to raise your retention rate can feel like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks — especially if leadership isn't on board...

But if leaders are actively involved in retention strategies, and take it upon themselves to ensure that employees remain engaged and satisfied, retention will never be an issue.

There are tons of employee retention shortcuts and strategies to keep employees from leaving, but long term retention strategies that actually work require more than surface level activities. 

It requires sustained investment in employees, both from an operational and a financial point of view. Leadership at all levels need to foster trust and loyalty by making retention a priority.

investment required for successful retention

As previously mentioned in the sections above, management should:

  • Be supportive and provide clear direction for employees
  • Recognize employee efforts with rewards and incentives
  • Encourage collaboration between departments
  • Provide consistent feedback on performance
  • Model behaviors that reflect your core values
  • Be open to feedback
  • Encourage personal and professional growth opportunities

It should be noted that your long term employee retention strategy needs to be different from how you retain seasonal employees, and that should even vary from how you bring seasonal workers back year after year. Not realizing the differences in retention strategies can lead to a rise in turnover, which is why it’s important to understand the nuances.

But one of the biggest leadership mistakes when it comes to employee retention is inconsistency. Without clear and consistent retention efforts, turnover will continue to rise.

If you want to dramatically reduce turnover, your retention tactics for new hires and veteran team members should be consistent, long-term and (most importantly) focused on building relationships.

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More Resources for Employee Retention


Contractors, manufacturers, and service professionals know retention isn't an easy task. Long hours, dangerous environments, and an ever-changing landscape of customer demands can drain your team... 

By considering retention in all stages of the employee lifecycle, you can keep employees engaged and motivated for the long haul.

We've rounded up a few more retention resources to help you get started on the right track:


Each of these resources offers unique perspectives from industry experts on how to recruit, hire, and retain the best blue-collar talent.

At Team Engine, we understand retention is an ongoing process. Let us help make that process as easy as possible with automated retention solutions.

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