Frontline workers are the backbone of many companies across industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to transportation and construction. They make up 80% of the global workforce but are generally deskless and have no access to dedicated workspaces, making it difficult to engage with them.
This is partly due to:
No work laptop or email address
The challenges associated with communicating and collaborating with colleagues across locations
Difficulty in accessing corporate files on the go
Little or no access to company news, announcements, and updates
As a result, they may not know or find out too late about company information, which can often be business-critical. Naturally this can cause them to be disengaged and feel a lack of belonging. In fact, in 2021 a survey by intranet provider Beezy showed that 51% of employees struggle to feel connected and engaged with their work.
This is where technology comes in. To create better employee engagement for your deskless staff, no matter your industry, you need to start with having the right technology. This technology must enable you to reach all your employees directly, so they feel connected and engaged with your business. In fact, 70% of deskless employees want more technology from their employer.
If you have the right digital workplace solutions, you will be able to:
Share in-time critical business information that is readily available and accessible by everyone. For example, your business policies, compliance requirements and operational changes.
Encourage better collaboration and networking between colleagues through knowledge sharing. Better connections can improve working relationships, create active engagement with your company’s mission and reduce barriers for managers getting the most from their team.
Reduce staff turnover. The UK government reported that the retail and wholesale industries have the highest levels of employee turnover, £1,438.2 billion in 2019. So, if you can leverage the right technology for your deskless workforce, you’ll be better able to retain your talent.
Ultimately, if you can build a thriving workplace culture that engages and empowers your people, wherever they’re located and however they’re working, your employees will feel valued and connected.
So how can technology improve your employee engagement with your deskless workforce?
1. Use an app
In 2021, 474 million people in Europe (86% of the population) subscribed to mobile services, and this is expected (opens a new window) to grow to 480 million by 2025. Apps therefore provide a great way for you to engage with your deskless staff.
A large global fashion retail brand uses a social collaboration app that allows quick and easy two-way communication and collaboration between their shop-floor staff and back-office team. They utilise an app provided by Convo which mirrors functionality from social media platforms thus making user adoption quicker and easier. As mentioned before, some deskless workers don’t have a company email, but apps overcome this by allowing staff to sign-up only using a phone number.
2. Provide direct access to documentation and people
As mentioned, a big challenge for deskless workers is having access to the right information at the right time. By giving your staff direct access through an app or document management portal, they are more likely to use it repeatedly. Similarly, without direct access to business required forms or documents, employees may cut corners or wing it. This also applies to communication. If they don’t know who to speak to and cannot find this information out easily, then they simply may not bother. By offering instant access to a searchable people directory, you can connect your frontline workers with colleagues across your business whilst encouraging collaboration.
3. Give different options
We are all different and have our own preferences for how we learn, process information and interact with our colleagues. It is therefore essential to provide deskless staff with options, especially as you go through a process of change. As you introduce new technology, like an employee engagement app, ensure your existing channels run in parallel as people inherently are averse to change. So, if you gradually look to decommission certain out-dated channels, first ensure everyone is familiar and comfortable with their options beforehand.
4. Provide technical tools enabling them to do their job
Historically, when it comes to considering technical solutions for deskless employees to help perform in their roles, this has been overlooked. But by investing in technology for them, you can leverage this as a selling point to retain and attract talent. 78% of deskless workers say the technology provided by their potential employer ultimately impacts their decision to join a company.
The technological tools and functionalities suitable for desk-based employees, do not necessarily work for deskless employees. By giving your deskless staff dedicated technical tools to enhance their knowledge and skillset every day, this increases their overall competence, job satisfaction and acts as an investment in your workforce. For example, giving warehouse staff an interactive map of the warehouse to ease finding stock or providing construction workers on-demand access to important and relevant building regulations.
Technology should be an integral component of your employee engagement strategy with your deskless workforce. Ensure the technology you select aligns with and enables your employee engagement strategy, so take the time to get right to reap the benefits.
For further information, please contact:
Global Technology Manager for People Solutions
T: +44 207 933 2843