Recently, Sociabble had the opportunity to participate in the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit in London. The occasion allowed for our CEO Jean-Louis Bénard to share the various experiences and challenges of companies that have launched Employee Communications initiatives. Here is a short summary of our vision of how best to engage frontline workers.
Frontline Workers: Overlooked, But Absolutely Essential to Employee Communications
Engaging with desk-based, in-office employees is obviously important—they make up a substantial part of the modern, digital workforce. However, there is another group of employees that is often overlooked during the process of digital transformation: the frontline workforce. These are employees who work in factories, on production lines, in retail environments, or who travel for deliveries or sales. They are just as crucial as the workers who spend their days in the office behind a desk, but when it comes to keeping them informed and engaged, they are often neglected. And frequently when companies do try to connect, they simply fail—frontline workers don’t understand the sudden effort and are unresponsive. How can companies form a stronger link with these disconnected employees? How can they bring them into the fold, for better employee communications or internal communications?
At Sociabble, we’ve had extensive experience working with retailers and traditional industries that struggled with these issues—and we’ve been able to help them achieve frontline success. Engaging the frontline workforce is possible, but it takes some adjustment in terms of how companies share information. Here are the strategies that have brought positive results with our clients and their own internal communications.
An Effective Mobile App
Because many frontline workers don’t have professional email addresses or desktops handy, it’s crucial to reach them wherever they are. This means that mobile is key. That’s why we have worked extra hard to make the Sociabble app user-friendly, visually appealing, intuitive, and adaptable to any mobile device. A retail employee on their feet at an outlet should be able to check and respond to the latest company sales report just as easily as someone seated at their desk in the marketing department. And without an effective mobile communications strategy, you’re simply not going to reach the frontline workforce.
Explain That Their Voice Matters
However, all the mobile technology in the world won’t make a difference if employees don’t feel compelled to use it. It’s important to communicate from the get-go that their voice matters, that sharing it is important. Employees are a company’s greatest asset and resource, and their opinions, ideas, and suggestions help form a better work environment. And just as Simon Senek says, you’ve got to start with why. Specifically, why it is in their interest to become informed and engaged within the company. It actually does make their experience as employees better.
Start with Concrete User Generated Content
To make sure their voices are heard from the very beginning, start off your efforts with pieces of user generated content like feedback polls designed to gather employee input. When frontline employees see that the company cares about their opinions—and then actually does something to address their desires or concerns, they see the immediate value of engagement. It affects their experience and it can improve their workday.
Give a Good Content Mix
Engaging the frontline workforce means giving them useful, compelling content. This should include practical, third-party articles related to their specific field and expertise. For example, one of our clients uses Sociabble to share regular updates on the competitive landscape, so their employees can stay informed about the marketplace. But this can also mean sharing content that is entertaining. Another client kicked off their Sociabble deployment with World Cup-related content, and included quizzes with trivia about the teams. And another client still incorporated a selfie contest to get employees involved. Ultimately, what matters is that you find a way to draw them in with company news and keep them directly engaged. And having a good mix of informative and entertaining content is the best way to do it.
Engage Them with Gamification
Adding the element of play to company communications is another way to encourage frontline engagement. Quizzes, badges, and motivational rewards can all help. Sponsorships can be very effective in generating excitement. One of our clients sponsored a soccer team, with seats for matches offered as a prize. Giving frontline employees a fun reason to get involved will bring up their engagement level, even with content that comes later and is not directly contest-related.
Make the Effort, the Frontlines will Listen
Obviously, reconnection won’t happen overnight. But with the right platform and the right strategy, amazing things are possible. We’ve seen it happen with our own clients again and again. If you’d like to learn more about how Sociabble can help you engage with your frontline workforce, our free demo is available here. And to read our latest white paper on employee communications, click here.