How to Appreciate and Recognize Your Blue Collar Workers 

Recognizing your blue collar workers has never been easier. Find out how to facilitate best recognition practices among your non-digital workforce.

July 10, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!
non-digital emplyoees
blue collar workers

Blue collar workers used to comprise most of the worldwide workforce. However, lately there has been a labor shortage among deskless workers, and it will continue to growAccording to predictions, there could be as many as 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the US by 2028. 

This is why HR professionals are trying to bridge the gap between their deskless workforce and recognition practices that were developed mainly for the digital workforce. Read this article to find out what are the best practices for recognizing your non-digital employees, as well as what kind of awards to give your blue collar workforce. 

📎 Before we start, get your Employee Recognition Playbook and learn how to implement and manage a successful employee recognition program. 

Best Recognition Practices for Blue Collar Workers 

There are several challenges to overcome when it comes to recognizing your non-digital workforce. Depending on the type of job – manufacturing, maintenance, construction or other – your employees will be more or less prone to rely on computers, phones and other personal internet-based gadgets. 

Furthermore, your workforce’s technical literacy will play an important part in envisioning and managing your recognition program. That is why it is important to choose a recognition software partner that facilitates the non-digital recognition solution. 


Here is how you can make it easier for your deskless employees to give and receive recognition. 

Mobile employee recognition experience 

If your employees are using phones with internet access, you can enable them to access your recognition app via their mobile phones. If your recognition software has a mobile app, it will notify them when they have received recognition and ask to give it. With such solutions, you can also automate birthday and work anniversary e-cards. 

SMS and push notifications 

You can keep your non-digital employees updated and reminded of certain recognition actions with SMSBlue and push notifications. In case of SMS, your employees might not even need the internet access nor mobile app, therefore it is suited to the employees without technical knowledge. Furthermore, push notifications can send reminders of birthdays, work anniversaries and global or internal recognition days. 

non digital employees shortage

TV Monitors 

If your employees work indoors and commonly gather in designated areas for meals or rest, you can install TV monitors to display recognition messages and other important announcements. Use the TV for video formats, too: that way, you can play your executives’ messages to your blue-collar workers and display birthday or work-anniversary messages. 

Recognition kiosks 

One way to collect your employees’ recognition input is to install computer kiosks in areas where your employees can access them. That way, your employees can easily access the recognition app and recognize their coworkers, managers or subordinates.  

Manual employee recognition 

Although it is a time-costing activity, some companies opt for manual collection of employees’ recognition. This is done in the following way: the physical recognition forms are printed out and dispersed to employees, who fill out their names, the names of the coworkers they are recognizing, and reasons for recognition. After collecting the forms, HR Officers or managers put the paper forms in digital format and input the information to the employee recognition system. 

QR codes 

An easy way for your employees to enter the app, give their recognition or receive recognition are QR codes You can provide them numeral or QR codes to copy or scan in an app which will then guide them to their profile in the employee recognition software. That way, your older employees or employees that are less prone to technology can easily and intuitively access the app to proceed with the recognition practices you have set up in your recognition interface. 

You can display the codes in your employees’ working environment for seamless access to recognition software via smart phones. 

non-digital employee communication

Best Recognition Awards for Blue Collar Workers 

Since blue collar workers’ jobs are deskless, you should adjust your employee recognition awards to be tangible and represent something meaningful to your workforce. In the end, every company has to adapt their rewards catalogues and non-monetary awards to reflect the recognition program’s goals and organizational values. 

Take a look at these effective awards you can offer your non-digital employees. 

Employee of the Month 

Employee of the Month is a traditional employee recognition award that is highly popular among deskless employees. Besides the physical certificate, employees love their picture and short description of their work to be displayed publicly. That way, you are also emphasizing the social aspect of this reward. 

Physical certificatesmedals and trophies 

Recognition certificates can be printed out on hard paper and in large sizes or can be framed to be tangible. The reasons for recognizing your employees are multiple, from birthdays to recognizing your hardest workers, your best line managers or others for extra achievements.  

Similar to that, medals and trophies for Employee of the Year award or 10+ years work anniversaries are good ways to appreciate your employees’ loyalty and their hard work. 

📎 Check out these editable work anniversary templates to give to your employees. 

Team brunches 

If you are not already providing meals to your employees, it would be nice to create special occasions and give space to informal gatherings with food. Pizza Friday, Taco Tuesday or team lunch once every month are a nice way to recognize your workforce and give way to relaxed, team building atmosphere. 

Appreciation notes 

Short notes written on paper can easily be dispersed among your workforce. Even though you may think this is a simple reward, many employees actually prefer to be rewarded by simple “Thank you” for their day-to-day tasks. 

everyday employee recognition

Leave early or day off 

A nice reward for your hard-working employees is to grant them a day off in special occasions. Make sure to tie this award to achieving certain goals, as you should with the rest of your awards. That way, it will be a reward for certain action or behavior, not just a random act of personal recognition. In other words, it will incite similar behavior in the future and among other employees, too.  

Custom awards  

Think of customized gifts you can give your employees to make their work clothes or tools more personal. If your organization works in construction industry, give your employees tools with their names engraved. Furthermore, you can embroider your employees’ safety vests with names, nicknames, logos or funny icons. 

Think of the creative ways you could personalize rewards for employees in your company’s industries! 

Gift baskets 

Gift baskets with different products are another example of a nice tangible reward for your employeesThey are especially effective for personal celebratory events, such as the birth of a child or marrying.  

Monetary rewards 

A pay increase or bonuses for achieving previously set goals are one of the most desired rewards among workers. Make sure to tie it to both personal and team achievements in order to promote balanced goal setting strategy. 

📎 Read all about best employee incentives practices. 

Lunch with the CEO 

In most companies, C-level executives enjoy high levels of trust among blue collar workersThis is why your CEO’s physical appearance in front of workers for lunch, informal gathering or company-wide announcement is always a good idea. Your CEO praising the employees’ hard work is meaningful for them in many ways. 

CEO trust

Therefore, a lunch or afternoon with a CEO represents an unusual but very effective award that could mean a lot to your employees, as well as help your CEO get to know your workforce’s daily habits and struggles. 

Verbal praise 

The simplest, yet one of the most effective ways to recognize your employees is to give them verbal praise! You would be surprised of how many employees would appreciate an occasional individual recognition of their day-to-day effort. Make sure to thank your employees for their hard work and personality they bring to the table, as well as their perseverance, loyalty, innovation and helping their coworkers. 

Recognition via Slack or MS Teams 

It is much easier for employees do adopt recognition practices if they are implemented in the communication software that is already in use. Therefore, look for recognition solutions that will allow your deskless employees to recognize their peers and receive recognition via Slack, Microsoft Teams or other employee communication channels. 

Blue Collar Workers Recognition Challenges 

Since only 56% of non-digital employees feel connected and engaged by their employers, your recognition practice will surely be welcomed by your workforce.

deskless employees engagement

However, there are several challenges to overcome when it comes to your recognizing your deskless employees. Luckily, all of them can be solved with adjusting your recognition strategy to fit your workforce. Take a look at how to resolve challenges specific to blue collar workers in your company. 

Experience with technology and technical literacy  

The non-existing previous experience with mobile phones, apps or computers is the biggest challenge you may face with your non-digital employees. If your employees use their smartphones daily, it will be significantly easier for you to implement a recognition solution and programs in your organization 

Access to the recognition app via QR codes or by providing detailed information on how to download the app can resolve the initial technological challenge. However, you will probably have to occasionally remind your employees to give recognition via SMS or push notifications. 

📎 If your workforce is not prone to technology, there are other ways to facilitate recognition. If your collecting recognition manually or via computer kiosks, make sure to designate a persona inside your HR team to help your coworkers easily give recognition. 


Your deskless employees do not rely on email as a form of communication, and some of them may not even have it. As explained earlier, you may have to rely on SMS notifications, phone calls, face-to-face interaction or paper mail to deliver important messages as well as remind your workforce on recognition activities.  

Training and explaining the importance of employee recognition 

You may find it challenging to explain to your employees how to recognize their coworkers. As mentioned above, you should assign a person or more people inside your team to facilitate the administrative processes of giving and receiving recognition. 

On the other hand, explaining the importance of employee recognition should be somewhat easier. Try telling your employees that you want to hear from them and know them better in order to appreciate their hard work. 

Physical environment 

As your deskless employees might be working in food production, assembling or construction, their physical environment will be specific to your organization’s industry. Therefore, your employees will be physically limited to give and receive recognition. To resolve this issue, try to designate time and space for employee recognition so your employees feel more inclined to follow the appreciation practices. 

How Semos Cloud Can Help You Recognize Your Deskless Workforce 

Semos Cloud offers all-in-one Employee Experience apps to companies across different industries. Our Employee Recognition Platform JobPts is used by both digital and non-digital employees with high adoption rates and excellent customer scores. 

Take a look at JobPts and book a demo to consult with our team on how to recognize your deskless employees and drive their engagement, job satisfaction and productivity.