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09 Mar 2023
by Lauren Hoare

4 ways technology can improve frontline worker engagement

Deskless workers are often overlooked when it comes to accessing business communication channels. But giving them the right technology can boost their engagement

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Frontline workers are the backbone of many companies, from healthcare and manufacturing to transport 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.

To create better employee engagement for deskless staff, no matter the industry, starts with having the right technology. This technology must enable the business to reach all employees directly, so they feel connected and engaged. In fact, 70% of deskless employees want more technology from their employer.

Having the right digital workplace solutions, means being able to:

  • Share in-time critical business information that is readily available and accessible by everyone. For example, 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 a company’s mission and reduce barriers to 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, costing £1.44 bn in 2019. So, providing the right technology for a deskless workforce means being better able to retain talent.

Ultimately, building a thriving workplace culture that engages and empowers people, wherever they’re located and however they’re working, will make them feel valued and connected.

So how can technology improve engagement with a deskless workforce?

1. Give them an app

In 2021, 474 million people in Europe (86% of the population) subscribed to mobile services, a figure expected to grow to 480 million by 2025. Apps, therefore, provide a great way to engage with deskless staff.

For example, one large global fashion retail brand uses a social collaboration app that allows quick and easy two-way communication and collaboration between shop-floor and back-office staff. They app mirrors social media platform functionality, making user adoption quicker and easier. Apps overcome a lack of email access by allowing staff to sign up using a phone number.

2. Provide direct access to documentation and people

A big challenge for deskless workers is having access to the right information at the right time. By giving staff direct access through an app or document management portal, they are more likely to use it.

Similarly, without direct access to business-required forms or documents, employees may cut corners. This also applies to communication. If they don’t know who to speak to and cannot find this information easily, they simply may not bother. Instant access to a searchable people directory will connect frontline workers with colleagues across the business while encouraging collaboration.

3. Give different options

Everyone is different and has their own preferences for how they learn, process information and interact with colleagues. It is therefore essential to provide deskless staff with options, especially during a process of change.

As new technology, such as an employee engagement app, is introduced, ensure existing channels run in parallel, as people are often averse to change. Before decommissioning out-dated channels, first ensure everyone is familiar and comfortable with their options.

4. Provide technical tools enabling them to do their job

Historically, technical solutions to help deskless employees do their jobs have been overlooked. More than three quarters (78%) of deskless workers say the technology provided by a 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.

Giving deskless staff dedicated technical tools to enhance their knowledge and skills increases their overall competence, job satisfaction and acts as an investment in the 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 an employee engagement strategy with your deskless workforce. Ensure the technology you select aligns with and enables your employee engagement strategy. Taking the time to get it right will reap benefits.

In partnership with Lockton People Solutions

Lockton provides creative people solutions that make life better, for your business and your people.

Contact us today