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28 Feb 2024

6 ways to engage deskless workers

Deskless should not mean disconnected. Employees whose roles mean they are not required to work from a desk, or who work remotely, can be kept motivated and engaged as much as their office-based colleagues

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Up to 80% of the global workforce is deskless, workers with roles that transcend traditional office spaces. Yet, despite their prevalence, deskless workers often encounter a major hurdle - poor engagement.

There are more than 2.7bn workers globally who don't have a designated office or work environment and are not required to work from a desk.

They can be found across all industries, especially healthcare, retail, transport, construction and hospitality. Remote workers or digital nomads, who work remotely without a traditional office, also fall under the deskless category.

The term ‘deskless’ is new, but the conversation surrounding the treatment of these employees has been around for years. Because these employees are more than just a click away, they are often excluded from company communications and programmes and are overlooked and under-appreciated as a result.

Several issues affect deskless employees daily:

1. Lack of inclusion
Deskless workers often miss out on crucial company communications, like updates and programmes. This exclusion leads to detachment, making deskless employees feel out of the loop and undervalued.

2. Limited training opportunities
According to BI Worldwide’s New Rules of Engagement® study, 80% of these employees reported having an electronic device that allowed their employer to communicate with them. But only 36% of deskless workers get the necessary training. This lack of training hinders personal growth and affect efficiency.

3. Lack of recognition
Only 34% of deskless workers receive recognition through electronic devices. This lack of recognition leaves deskless employees feeling unappreciated, hitting their motivation.

4. Culture misalignment
Deskless workers should be valued. Establishing such a culture ensures deskless employees feel indispensable, fostering higher engagement and commitment.

How to engage deskless workers

From boosting morale to enhancing productivity, engaging deskless workers is a crucial aspect of a thriving workplace.

Here are 6 ways to engage deskless workers:

1. Address key business challenges
Employers of deskless employees face industrial safety, retention, customer service and absenteeism challenges. Recognise employees’ good work in key areas.

Recognition programmes can take many forms, but should include a blend of reward and non-reward-based peer-to-peer and manager recognition, long-service awards, and milestone celebrations, as well as ensuring employees are recognised regularly for their contributions and achievements.

2. Seamlessly integrate with existing tools
A large and growing number of employers already have a way to communicate electronically with employees. Making the most of these channels, such as handheld devices compatible with recognition and reward systems, offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution.

Whether your team excels in adhering to safety rules, delivering outstanding customer service, or consistently demonstrating high efficiency, their accomplishments should be celebrated.

Merchandise, experience days and travel incentives are good ways to celebrate your top-performing employees. This approach not only streamlines communication, but also enhances the overall experience for your deskless team.

3. Foster user adoption
Just because there’s an app available to participants doesn’t mean they will use it unless you implement a strategy to solve for it. Best practices include on-location advocates and gamification elements to improve participation.

Gamification elements such as badging, scoring, leader boards and level completion, are a way to incentivise, drive positive behaviours and enhance your employees’ experience, which ultimately will meet your objectives. This multifaceted approach ensures that your engagement tools are embraced, effectively used, and seamlessly integrated into the daily routines of your workforce, driving sustained participation and impact.

4. Tell the story
Effectively conveying the narrative behind an initiative is vital for engaging deskless workers. While electronic communication plays a crucial role, the inclusion of offline tools enhances the overall storytelling experience.

Integrating branded merchandise, well-designed displays and breakroom leaderboards provide a tangible and sustained connection to the initiative’s key elements, whether it involves safety protocols, exceptional customer service, or other crucial aspects.

This combination of digital and physical mediums ensures a comprehensive and lasting impact, making the narrative more tangible and relatable for your deskless workforce.

5. Share success
As your engagement programme unfolds and initial successes become evident, it’s crucial to spotlight these achievements as inspirations for your deskless workers. This goes beyond acknowledging success – it helps to foster a positive company culture and boost engagement.

6. Make adjustments
Recognising that success is an ongoing process, it’s crucial to continually measure and adjust particularly in training deskless workers. Regularly assess the affect of the programme, identifying areas of success and potential improvements. For instance, in the initial stages, providing skills training can lay a strong foundation. As employees adopt and excel in these skills, consider introducing more advanced training to further elevate their capabilities.

Additionally, seek input from deskless workforce by asking for feedback. This not only enhances engagement but also fosters a sense of openness, creativity and idea sharing.

This approach ensures that your programme evolves in alignment with the changing needs and aspirations of your deskless workforce, fostering a dynamic and adaptive engagement strategy.

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In partnership with BI WORLDWIDE

BI WORLDWIDE is a global engagement agency delivering measurable results for clients through inspirational employee and channel reward and recognition solutions.

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