The majority of people who work do not sit behind a desk. Four fifths of the global workforce could be considered deskless. Despite this, investment in digital workplace tools has traditionally focused on knowledge workers. It’s time to revolutionize frontline engagement in the workplace. Thankfully, this is changing through the deployment of employee communication apps. These apps can be accessed via personal devices, allowing frontline staff to fully engage with your digital workplace.
If your workforce includes frontline, deskless or mobile employees, having a mobile-first employee app to access digital communications and services is essential.
In industries like retail, manufacturing, distribution, and health, your employee app will be the primary digital channel for staff engagement and enabling business processes.
Over a series of six articles, we’re exploring the impact of employee communications on the deskless workforce. This post explores five ways a mobile-first solution can help revolutionize frontline engagement.
1. Connecting frontline employees (at last)
In the past, logistical barriers and high costs have prevented frontline staff from accessing the digital workplace. Licensing issues have meant few deskless employees have digital identities, and even fewer have corporate mobile devices. However, robust authentication processes and BYOD (bring your own device) policies now mean that frontline staff are getting increased access to the digital workplace via a dedicated app on their personal device. An employee app connects all your employees, removing the constraints relating to devices and digital identities.
The importance of connecting frontline employees should not be underestimated. Creating equal access to information and workplace culture transforms engagement for disconnected staff.
The overall impact can be exceptional. Research suggests that organizations who connect frontline employees can achieve significantly faster growth, improved productivity and reduced costs.
2. Engaging frontline staff in fast turnover industries
Disengagement at work is a general problem, but frontline employees can feel more disengaged than most. In industry sectors with a large proportion of deskless staff, employee turnover can be among the very highest rates – as high as 300%. This is very expensive, harms operations and negatively impacts service delivery.
With a digitally connected frontline, organizations have an opportunity to properly address engagement issues and reduce employee turnover. Access to leadership communications, being properly informed, creating a level playing field and reducing employee frustration through improved processes all play their part. The research already cited found that 64% of organizations with digitally connected frontline employees reported lower employee turnover.
3. Improving effectiveness and customer service
Organizations have spent millions on digital workplace tools to enable knowledge workers to be more effective in their roles. An employee app empowers frontline employees to work more effectively, through real-time communication, productivity tools and learning opportunities. Sometimes this will be enabled through integrations from core systems within the app.
One area where apps play a significant role is in improving customer service. When customer-facing staff in retail, leisure and transport industry sectors can access reliable, accurate product and service information, it means they can also provide rapid and well-informed responses to customers on the ground. They can also ask their peers questions and get quick responses.
In manufacturing and engineering sectors, employees can access how-to videos on their mobiles on-site, send images or videos to illustrate technical problems to get feedback, and solve complex technical issues fast.
4. Revolutionize frontline engagement and raise productivity
Frontline staff have traditionally had less access to digital services. That means processes currently in use may involve manual forms, paper-based information, and requests being channelled through managers. This means there are significant opportunities to improve processes through digitization, enabling direct access to information and introducing forms and workflow.
Frontline processes that can be improved using employee apps include:
- Accessing shift information and swapping rosters
- Receiving key operational information and alerts
- Requesting annual leave, equipment, uniforms and more
- Reporting incidents immediately
- Inputting data when out in the field.
When a communications app enables these new capabilities, it improves productivity, collaboration, and reduces errors while increasing morale.
5. Driving innovation
In the challenging economic times ahead, innovation is going to play a significant role. Involving frontline staff in these innovation processes is a huge opportunity to tap into their collective wisdom. Frontline staff are frequently the people who know your customers best and are closest to your operational processes.
An employee app is a great way to get input into the best way to streamline processes, improve service and create new products.