Employee Communications ~ 11 min

Frontline Employee Communication: Keeping the Connection Alive

HR Team, People Experts, Sociabble
HR Team People Experts

How do I communicate with frontline staff? Many businesses are struggling with that very question, given their crucial role in our changing economy. Keeping them connected and engaged with company life poses a unique set of challenges. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to maintain and even enhance that connection.

Frontline employee communication is a challenge many companies are dealing with. How best to engage frontline workers, how to keep them connected, at a time when many office workers are dispersed and those frontlines can feel more distant that ever.

These are questions that have become even more pressing with the advent of remote work and hybrid office scenarios. But with the proper communication strategy, procedural adjustments, and digital tools, frontline workers can remain informed and engaged with company life.

In fact, we’ve laid out simple steps you can take to boost frontline engagement at your company.

What defines frontline employees? It’s more than just their jobs.

Over the past two years, frontline workers have experienced more changes, upheavals, and disruptions than ever before. Despite ongoing challenges such as economic uncertainty, inflation, understaffing, and burnout, this segment of the workforce remains critical to the success of many organizations. Frontline employee communication can’t truly begin until the meaning and importance of their role is defined and understood.

Frontline workers are the backbone of many industries, from healthcare and hospitality to manufacturing and logistics. They are often the face of the company, interacting directly with customers and clients. As such, their job satisfaction and retention are crucial to the success of most organizations.

Unfortunately, frontline workers often feel disconnected from the rest of the organization, making it challenging to communicate important information to them. This can result in missed opportunities, decreased engagement, and poor performance. To increase efficiency, organizations need to prioritize communication and engagement with their frontline audience, using communication tools and strategies that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences. 

But additional challenges stand in the way of frontline engagement.

While there are many reasons a frontline worker might not engage fully or feel well-informed, there are common causes of disengagement that crop up again and again, in many different parts of business. Frontline employee communication can suffer and cause problems for a number of reasons, and these issues can include:

Frontline workers are not connected to their company

Many frontline workers, in stores and manufacturing centers, for example, may have a mobile device, but not a professional computer station and they can’t receive emails. And their role may limit access even if they can—i.e. someone in a customer-facing sales position simply may not have the time or the proper equipment to sit and check their latest company bulletins and updates online. Frontline employee communication must address this, and connect with them as an audience.

No alignment between corporate and operational communications

It’s too often the case that “office” employees focus on corporate communications, while frontline workers focus on operational communications, when in fact, both can be important parts of being an informed employee.

Frontline employees receive operational news and updates regarding the nuts and bolts of their daily tasks, but not the communications regarding the larger company and its place in its ecosystem. And office employees receive developing corporate and strategic news and ideas, but are often unaware of the day-to-day information that helps the company to operate smoothly.

The two spheres are kept separate, when they should be integrated. It can be just as important for a frontline worker to be familiar with a new marketing strategy as it is for an office worker to be familiar with new factory safety regulations. But in many cases, the information streams are kept separate, and effective frontline employee communication does not occur with the audience.

Feeling of not being properly informed by management

Research has shown that 84% of frontline workers feel that they’re not kept properly informed by management. And 50% feel that they don’t understand the overall strategy of the company.

That they’re effectively “out of the loop” when it comes to crucial elements of business information and communication. Obviously, if frontline workers feel that managers aren’t communicating crucial information, problems will arise.

stats frontline worker disconnected

Misunderstanding the nature of engagement

Oftentimes, headquarters assumes that frontline workers aren’t engaged with or don’t take an interest in corporate communication and life, when in fact they do, albeit at a more local level.

Frontline engagement may take a different form, and the necessities of their daily tasks may make it more challenging to promptly respond to surveys or participate in challenges—but it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, or that they don’t have ideas.

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Feeling that their voice is not heard

It is not uncommon among frontline workers to encounter the sentiment that corporate management does not necessarily take their opinions into account when determining policy or making decisions. In fact, a full 75% feel that they simply are not listened to.

It’s unfortunate, but there are many frontline employees who feel that they don’t have a voice at the company, and only a limited role in determining its direction.

Unaware of safety procedures

It’s critical for employees to be up to speed on new regulations and safety procedures, and for them to be aware of possible hazards or unsafe working conditions.

Risk management means ensuring that frontline staff is up to date on how to use equipment and parts, what to do in case of an emergency, and what deadlines and changes are approaching.

Also, staff health updates, like recent surgery or sick leave, should be communicated as well. Failing to do this isn’t only bad for businesses—it can put people’s well-being at risk.

Lack of proper training

Performance depends on proper instruction. Frontline workers who lack the right training may be at higher risk for accidents, injuries, or legal consequences. Inadequate safety protocols or an inability to follow instructions due to a lack of understanding can lead to serious issues.

Plus, without proper training, frontline staff may lack the necessary confidence or knowledge to complete tasks effectively, which changes outcomes and lessens profits—which all goes back to poor communication.

So the question remains: How do I communicate with frontline staff? Here are some solutions.

As daunting as these challenges can be, there are effective ways to strengthen the feeling of connection between corporate headquarters and workers on the frontlines, and to increase good communication and alignment, ensuring that everyone feels they are informed, involved, and most importantly, listened to.

Frontline employee communication isn’t fixed with one magic bullet, but with a number of steps that combine to improve internal communications overall, for all of the teams.

A Branded Mobile Employee App

Since many frontline workers may not have a personal desk unit or professional email, you have to reach them using a channel they already use: mobile. They need to be able to access all the information they need from their mobile device, so it becomes part of their routine.

And by branding the app, you create a strong sense of belonging and identity. They feel part of the company, as opposed to just a WhatsApp group chat.

branded mobile app frontline workers

The Sociabble Employee Communication platform comes with a branded mobile app that helps keep frontline workers who don’t have a desk station or professional email address connected.

Centralized Content Hub with Right Content Mix

Content is going to make the difference, so it needs to be accessible from a single platform hub. And in addition to being very visual and appealing with videos and photos, it needs to offer a good mix of both global and local content, as well as organizational and operational pieces.

The ability to provide User Generated Content should also be offered, so that employees can be directly involved in the conversation and create their own. Top-down and bottom-up internal communications are key, with polls and quizzes to keep them involved.

content hub frontline workers

Sociabble serves as a central content hub where frontline workers can get access to all the crucial information they need.

A Controlled Newsfeed

It’s important to have an editorialized newsfeed with content that can be pinned to the top, so that workers are sure not to miss the most important pieces of company information.

Managers need the ability to prioritize the order of content, so that it is relevant from both a top-down and bottom-up perspective. It should not be left up to algorithms to decide which content is most visible. Managers need control.

newsfeed employee engagement

The Sociabble newsfeed has a pinning option, so managers can highlight the news that can’t be missed.

Decentralized Governance

Because local managers often have the most insight into the needs and preferences of their local teams of frontline workers, governance of platforms should not be too centralized.

They need to be able to have input into what information their team needs to see, with local, decentralized news to go alongside important global updates. This will help frontline workers feel that the communications are relevant to them and their situation.

employee engagement platform

Sociabble options like local notifications and read receipts allow managers to control and monitor the flow of communication.

Operational Comms Abilities

Read receipts, public display screens, mobile video capabilities, locally-managed polls—these kinds of internal communications platform features put operational power in the hands of local managers to ensure that crucial messages are getting through. And operational communication is a crucial element to frontline success, as it’s locally relevant.

employee survey

Sociabble puts the power to shape the experience in the hands of local managers, including the ability to create polls and surveys.

Content in Local Languages for Global Teams

Because many frontline workers are operating in a language different from headquarters, a translation capability can make a tremendous difference. This helps frontline workers feel connected and engaged with communications, as they become instantly relevant.

Local managers should also be able to control translations and edit them, to make sure the right interpretation is getting through.

employee engagement platform translation

Real-time translation in over 60 languages ensures that with Sociabble, employees get the news they need, no matter where they are or what language they speak.

Synchronous Communication

Live chat and video conference features form the crucial synchronous links that allow frontline workers to communicate directly with each other, with managers, and with headquarters.

Questions can be answered and problems can be solved in real time, with the ability to address local nuances and challenges.

video conference platform

Sociabble’s chat and live video features ensure that conversations occur when needed, and that managers can connect directly with employees to discuss critical issues or just touch base.

Fun with Gamification

It’s also important to add a bit of fun to the mix, which will help keep employees engaged and positive about the experience.

A gamification feature with contests and challenges can really boost employee engagement with the content, and create a team spirit in the process. Badges and leaderboards can make the employee experience more visible and real.

gamification platform

A host of gamification features, complete with badges and leaderboards, makes engagement fun for employees.

Meaningful Rewards

It’s nice to reward active, engaged employees with awards that actually mean something. Think outside the box and try to provide winners with prizes that foster a sense of doing good, or helping the community.

For example, rather than simply giving a gift certificate, connect the achievement to helping the environment.

reward employees

With Sociabble, you can give employees meaningful rewards, including real trees planted in actual forests around the world via Sociabble Trees.

Employee Involvement in CSR

And when it comes to social responsibility, get your workforce involved. They should be able to propose and vote on ideas, and take some ownership over how their actions help the community on a larger level but also in a way that’s locally relevant, so they feel their actions are beneficial to the worlds they live in.

CSR platform

Frontline workers and other employees can get directly involved in CSR initiatives with Sociabble, and even vote on projects that are locally relevant with the “Support My Cause” feature.

The Sociabble platform solves frontline employee communication and more.

Sociabble is an Employee Communication platform that incorporates all of these features and much more, to help employees become informed, engaged, and influential.

It is specifically designed to work seamlessly with ALL employees, be they in corporate, frontline, or even remote work scenarios. We’ve already worked with industry leaders around the world, including companies like Coca-Cola CCEP, Renault Group, Primark, and L’Occitane en Provence, to name a few.

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