Ask a Communicator: 10 Tips for Engaging Frontline Team Members
Most of my workforce is “deskless.” This sometimes makes it difficult to keep all our employees aligned and in the loop. How can I consistently engage and communicate with my hardest-to-reach workers?
We’ve noticed more and more communicators expressing concern about how to reach their “deskless” workers. The fact is, Silicon Valley has often ignored deskless workers despite the fact that this segment makes up 80% of the global workforce; most workplace technology is geared towards “desked” or in-office workers. Meanwhile, your hardest-to-reach workers could be frontline staff, remote or distributed employees, workers who routinely do their jobs out in the field, or employees who work on the plant floor.
Reaching every employee is critical to keeping teams motivated and aligned with organizational goals. To engage these mobile employees, here are our top tips to reach your entire workforce.
10 Tips for Engaging Frontline Team Members
Tip 1: Study your employees.
You probably have data on your employees. So use it!
Create employee personas using data about your workforce (from your workforce communications platforms and HRIS). This can help give you a comprehensive view of how your workers spend their time, and which tools they rely on most. This is a lot like how marketers study customers and the customer journey. Studying your employees can lead to informative insights that help you learn what different workforce segments value.
As you undergo this process, ask questions that highlight your employees’ core preferences. For example:
- What kinds of technology tools do workers expect to use daily?
- What tools and resources do they need to fulfill their roles and reach their goals?
- How do the needs of different groups align or differ?
These questions can uncover what communication format will work best to engage every worker. Studying your workforce and finding out their needs is integral to figuring out how to best engage them.
Tip 2: Reassess your communications channels.
Distributed workers and frontline staff can often feel as though they are not treated the same as colleagues who go into headquarters every day. Reassessing your communication channels can help in establishing an equitable communications culture.
Managers can keep frontline team members included by regularly sending updates, announcements, and reminders through a workforce communications platform. A platform can facilitate a seamless communication experience and help keep distributed team members up-to-date on organizational changes.
Channels such as a mobile app may be most successful in keeping employees connected because most people are highly active on their mobile devices. Keeping your communication strategy up-to-date involves constantly reassessing which channel performs best to engage your workforce.
Tip 3: Partner with HR.
A strategic partnership between HR and internal communicators can solve the underlying cause of a lot of employee engagement issues.
Here’s why it makes sense for you to establish good internal communication practices with HR. HR often has the broadest worker reach, because HR professionals are responsible for onboarding, employee performance evaluations, and retention efforts for every employee in an organization. HR professionals also tend to be very knowledgeable about what employees need, as they’re the first stop for employee grievances and key issues that keep them from doing their jobs effectively. This makes HR a great resource and natural partner for internal communicators who want to engage effectively with all employees.
Tip 4: Create the best internal communications strategy possible.
Frontline workers are often the face of a company, yet they’re regularly left out of the majority of workforce communications. This information gap puts pressure on internal communicators to make sure that brand values and messaging are reaching this segment.
To align your workforce, developing a digital internal communications strategy. A workforce communications platform is a great way to make sure deskless workers (who often do not have company laptops or email addresses) receive your messages.
Tip 5: Personalize and target your communications using the best tools.
The more an employee feels noticed by an organization, the more likely they are to put effort into their work. Personalizing your communications to different workforce segments is a great way to keep people engaged and keep them motivated. Managers should focus on establishing clear goals and timelines for individual team members. Celebrate wins, accomplishments, milestones, and great ideas to keep remote team members happy and aligned with company goals.
Tip 6: Invest in your onboarding process.
The first six months of work are critical to determining whether or not employees stay at an organization. Make sure your onboarding process makes employees feel appreciated and welcome. It should also introduce workers to your company culture, align them to your business goals, and establish a companywide recruiting process (employees will want to refer your company to their friends and professional network if they have confidence in your organization).
Ciox Health transformed their onboarding process by working to reach all associates, including deskless workers, through SocialChorus’ workforce communications platform. Through the platform, Ciox was able to celebrate employee milestones, sales wins, and team community service.
Tip 7: Recognize your deskless employees.
It is important to highlight the achievements of frontline employees. Here’s how.
- Digital “thank you” notes: These notes can be in the form of a push notification on a company app or put up in a break room.
- Flexible hours: Allowing high performing employees flexible hours can be a great way to reward them for their achievements and express your appreciation.
- Announcements: Publishing worker achievements via a workforce communications platform can foster a sense of community and shared success. (Achievements could include birthdays, sales wins, and more.)
Tip 8: Measure and track your metrics.
The best way to improve your team engagement is to measure your internal communications performance. Tracking and analyzing your communications is essential to being able to understand which strategies work and which don’t.
The best way to begin is by identifying your goals and establishing objectives for your communications. Then, ask questions. (For example, ask which channel was most successful in reaching your frontline employees. The answers will be key to figuring out what strategy works best.)
Also, define internal communications KPIs. Measurable targets can help in defining the best approach to engaging employees. Combining quantitative and qualitative data is essential in measuring the success of a campaign. Benchmark the progress towards your goals can prove your team’s value in reaching broader organizational goals.
Tip 9: Don’t forget face-to-face meetings with frontline workers.
Distributed teams can feel disassociated from an organization if their only interaction happens online. To keep deskless and frontline workers engaged, use a human touch. One-on-one video or chat sessions can help workers feel connected to their managers; and these sessions can focus on progress or feedback while also presenting an opportunity for team leaders to communicate organizational changes.
Communicated frequently and consistently with deskless workers. This can involve weekly or bi-weekly meetings where group members feel empowered to engage more. Regular contact will make deskless workers feel heard by management and strengthen their ties to a company.
Tip 10: Be creative (and use video for the best employee engagement results).
People are used to consuming highly visual and engaging content online. Yet most corporate communications are traditional and static.
In order to engage your audience, you need eye-popping, scroll-stopping content. Try incorporating exciting visuals and video (workers are four times more likely to share content if it is in video as opposed to text-based form). Infographics are another way in which to share content in an exciting way. Keep information digestible and interactive.
Conclusion Recap: 10 Tips for Engaging Frontline Employees
Keeping your hardest-to-reach employees engaged boosts productivity and increases worker retention. Here’s a recap of our top tips.
- Study the data you have on frontline employees and create “employee personas” so you can meet their needs and expectations.
- Select the right communications channels to engage deskless workers.
- Partner with HR and leverage their knowledge about what employees want and need.
- Use a workforce communications platform to easily reach all workers, communicate consistently, and track your communications reach.
- Personalize your messages to each employee segment.
- Acknowledge and celebrate your deskless team members by maintaining regular contact through a human touch.
- Make your content and messages interesting, interactive, and visual.