By Julie Kramer
When it comes to HR software, it’s always been a white-collar world—or at least that’s a common perception.
Back in the day, most HR systems were designed for the traditional white-collar workforce—i.e., salaried employees working from a centrally located job site. Blue-collar employers, with their hourly, often distributed workforce, often had to go it alone.
Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. A Human Capital Management (HCM) platform that is designed to meet the needs of blue-collar industries is not as hard to find as you might think. A robust platform, such as EPAY’s, is not only more in tune with the needs of the hourly, blue-collar workforce, but also the challenges of managing them.
What is different about HR platforms designed to work better for blue-collar employers? What specific features and capabilities should these employers demand?
While it varies by industry and company, here’s our top five must-haves that belong on most every list.
Mobile Time-Tracking Solutions
When it comes to time and attendance, biometric time-clocks are terrific for a centrally located workforce. They’re even a great fit for blue-collar industries, like manufacturing, with a single factory location.
But for employers managing distributed and traveling workers—janitors, drivers, staffing employees—a great mobile time-tracking app is the best bet.
These easy-to-use apps allow workers to clock in and out from their smartphones. They’re quick and easy to use, but thanks to advanced features like GPS tracking and biometric verification, they also ensure that workers are actually where they’re supposed to be.
Flexible Payroll Engine
Even the most basic payroll software can handle hourly wages and simple overtime. But in some blue-collar industries, payroll is rarely that straightforward.
For example, not all payroll engines can handle split shifts, i.e., where an employee works two distinct jobs—and earns two different pay rates—during a single shift. Many also can’t customize withholdings for, say, union vs. nonunion employees.
And not all payroll software can handle compensation by piece rate—a common method in the manufacturing industry. Or facilitate certified payroll, which is sometimes required in the construction industry.
The good news is: There is a payroll solution that accommodates all these complexities and more.
A Mobile-Optimized HR Software Portal
In a traditional white-collar environment, employees can easily access and update their personnel files—contact info, payroll specifics, benefits details—via PC or laptop. But not all blue-collar workers have access to PCs and laptops.
What they do have are smartphones. So, HR software designed for the blue-collar workforce should be optimized for mobile usage, offering workers a fast, user-friendly app that brings similar functionality to the conventional online portal.
Payroll Options for Low-Wage Workers
Today, most white-collar workers receive their paycheck via direct deposit. But in order to do so, workers need a bank account—something low-wage workers don’t always have, because they can’t meet minimum balance requirements.
Typically, employers produce paper checks for these earners, which is an expensive proposition. Printing paychecks is time-consuming and costly for employers, and workers who cash those checks through unregulated check-cashing services are often subject to exorbitant fees.
Using pay cards instead provides a great, cost-saving alternative. They work just like prepaid debit cards. Pay cards can be reloaded by employers every pay period, giving workers many of the benefits employees with traditional bank accounts enjoy.
Pay card programs are popular with low-wage workers—as are on-demand pay programs, which offer workers instant access to some or all of their just-earned pay. Both are powerful recruiting and retention tools for blue-collar employers, and as the labor shortage rolls on, these can be a significant differentiator.
A Robust Learning Platform
While all employees can benefit from learning and development initiatives, it’s especially the case for blue-collar workers. For one thing, they’re more likely to be injured on the job. A rigorous safety-training program that includes required Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ) training and supplemental, industry-specific training can help prevent injuries and save lives.
For another, as technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning expand into the industrial workplace, blue-collar jobs are evolving. Upskilling workers allows them to operate such equipment and robotics properly and safely, while helping employers retain experienced workers and their collective knowledge.
Furthermore, if you’re managing workers across multiple shifts and locations, a strong online learning management system is the most efficient way to keep everyone up to speed.
How to Stop Singin’ the Software Blues
So, how do blue-collar employers determine which HR software is best for them?
Frankly, if you spend even just a little time studying any HR software provider, you can tell pretty quickly if it really speaks your language and if it has the robust features you need to stay competitive in the marketplace. Does it offer the features you need most, like those already identified? And how does it address the issues that your current HR software can’t handle? If you’re looking to jump-start your search, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started.