How can leaders best manage exhausted team members in blue-collar professions?
Busy times always seem to bring out the best (or worst) in people, and that’s especially true when it comes to blue-collar workers. When the hours start to pile up and the job starts to feel like a never-ending cycle of paperwork, grunt work, and long hours, team members can quickly start to lose steam.
We asked CEOs and HR leaders for their best tips on managing exhausted team members in blue-collar professions. From trying our a 4-day work week to allowing flexible schedules, here are a few tips on how to manage an exhausted blue-collar team member in a way that doesn’t drive them away.
Here are 12 ways to manage exhausted team members:
- Give Laborers 3 Day Weekends
- Make Them Feel Valued
- Encourage and Reward “Unplugging”
- Adjust PTO Policies
- Provide Advanced Tools and Equipment
- Encourage Breaks and Downtime
- Lead With Empathy
- Remind Them Tomorrow Exists
- Make Sure They Feel a Sense of Purpose
- Encourage Taking Time Off
- Design a Rewards and Recognition Program Specifically For Blue Collar Workers
- Allow Flexible Work Schedules
Give Laborers 3 Day Weekends
We recently switched to a 4-day work week. Our warehouse laborers can enjoy 3-day weekends, while still getting 40 hrs per week (10 hr days). This has been a great way to improve moral and reduce burnout. Most of the work required for our week is front-loaded to Mondays and Tuesdays. So we do not lose productivity by giving staff off on Fridays.
If your schedule can afford a reduced labor force at the end of the week, then we recommend offering a 3-day weekend for your labor. This gives them more time off, so they can spend more time with their friends and family, and doing things they enjoy.
Make Them Feel Valued
One of the most important things a leader can do to manage an exhausted team member is to make them feel valued. This can be done in a number of ways, such as praise for a job well done, showing appreciation for their work, or simply taking the time to listen to their concerns.
It is also important to provide opportunities for rest and relaxation, whether that means allowing them to take breaks during the day, giving them extra time off, or providing financial assistance for vacations. By making an exhausted team member feel valued, a leader can help them stay motivated and prevent burnout.
Encourage and Reward “Unplugging”
It can be hard for your employees to take time away when work is always so accessible, but it’s important to encourage this habit of unplugging — even if it’s just for a few hours. We have found that by promoting “unplugged time,” our team members are more productive when they are working and they’re also more creative and engaged.
One way to do this is by offering employees unlimited paid time off (PTO). You can also have a “no work on weekends” policy to give team members a much-needed break. And offer staggered start times so that team members can take advantage of quieter hours to get work done. If possible, allow employees to work from home one or two days a week so they can have more control over their schedule.
Adjust PTO Policies
Blue-collar workers are exhausted oftentimes due to a demanding work schedule. Along with this, many have little-to-no PTO benefits. Each dollar of their paycheck is crucial in helping them meet their basic needs, and when they miss just a day of work, it can mean not being able to pay rent on time.
As a manager, you can try implementing different PTO policies, such as granting them a few days of earned PTO a month, leading to a flexible time-off policy. This can mean all the difference for your blue-collar employees who desperately need a break to rejuvenate and be ready to come back to work to their full potential.
Provide Advanced Tools and Equipment
One of the best ways to manage exhausted team members is to determine if there are any tasks that can be reduced and streamlined using tools and equipment.
For example: If your employees are always working with their hands, consider investing in power tools or if they have to lift and move heavy objects, consider investing in electronic lifts that will make the job easier and faster.
The right tools and equipment can take the load off of your employees and reduce the amount of time they spend on tedious and monotonous tasks, allowing them to focus more on higher-level tasks and reducing their stress.
These tools can also help increase productivity and ensure that the right processes are followed, which will improve your company’s bottom line and make it easier for you as a leader to manage employees who might be suffering from burnout or fatigue and create a better work environment for everyone.
Encourage Breaks and Downtime
It is important for team members to have time to rest and recharge, both during and after their shift. Leaders can encourage breaks by providing adequate break areas and ensuring that team members are taking their allotted breaks. They can also encourage downtime by ensuring that team members have enough time off between shifts.
Lead With Empathy
Leadership that starts with empathy never goes out of style whether you are managing an onsite or virtual team. Caring about your colleagues and their whole person is one key to successful management. It builds trust, creates a shared space where everyone can meet as individuals, and prioritizes that we are all people trying to do our best in the workplace. When people are tired and stretched due to lack of resources or a difficult project, checking in often is the manager’s job and the key behavior that aligns with empathy. Check in, see how you can help, and move any hurdles or talk through any concerns as you continue to march toward the strategy and identify the milestones each person needs to accomplish.
Remind Them Tomorrow Exists
Exhausted people always lose focus on the future; hence emphasizing that there is another future opportunity to amend things is helpful.
Tired staff always have the notion that for them, there’s nothing on the horizon; there’s only the depressing present. As a leader, to overcome this, you must constantly communicate about the plans of a project, a client, or a product. Doing so alters the employees’ mindsets, and they will start seeing that their team has a future. This assists in helping them reduce their levels of anxiety and stress and let them work more comfortably.
Yongming Song, CEO, Live Poll for Slides
Make Sure They Feel a Sense of Purpose
There are many ways to keep your team energized, but one of the most effective is to make sure that they have a sense of purpose. When you feel like your job matters and has meaning, you’re more likely to devote yourself to it.
When your employees are exhausted, their minds can get muddied and unproductive. They may lack focus, which will make them less efficient in their work. One way to help prevent this from happening is by helping your staff see the bigger picture.
For example, if you’re working with a team that’s responsible for cleaning up after a natural disaster or an accident, it’s important to remind them that what they do matters. A simple reminder like this can go a long way in helping them stay positive during difficult times.
Encourage Taking Time Off
One tip that leaders can employ to support an exhausted workforce is to encourage and support employees taking time off. Unfortunately, some companies have cultures that penalize taking earned time off and in turn employees do not take advantage of this benefit. In addition to this, employees taking time off may also feel guilt knowing that their colleagues will have an extra burden while they are away.
As a leader, normalizing, encouraging and respecting time off is a great approach to dealing with burnout. Building on this, leaders should refrain from contacting employees on their time off. Proving employees with uninterrupted time off can help them return to work refreshed and re-engaged. This is a top-down strategy that must be embraced by all levels of the organization in order to be successful.
Design a Rewards and Recognition Program Specifically For Blue Collar Workers
Every industrial company’s blue-collar employees are its lifeblood. The potential of businesses to produce things and render services is made up by their personnel. Therefore, don’t undervalue the influence of blue-collar workers.
First, businesses should consider them an asset to be managed rather than a cost to be kept under control. Respect must be shown for those working these jobs. They’ll put in more effort, perform better, and show more loyalty. Employee pride is cultivated by rewards and recognition.
The motivation and engagement of employees who are proud of their work is higher. Their motivation needs to be very different from that of their peers in the white-collar sector. Therefore, businesses need to design the ideal rewards and recognition programs for their workers. You should occasionally hold meetings with both white- and blue-collar employees. In addition to assisting you in making the best choice, this shows blue-collar workers that they are respected.
Allow Flexible Work Schedules
One cause for exhaustion, whether teams are blue-collar or white-collar is a poor overall state of well-being. Give your exhausted blue-collar team members some flexibility in their work routines to rejuvenate and re-energize for the next task. This flexibility could include short breaks throughout the day, days off, and paid leave. When people are relaxed and well-rested, they tend to become more productive and exhaustion becomes an afterthought.