Reaching non-desk employees can be challenging because they don't have computers at work, or have limited access to a shared communal computer they can only use during a break. By default, the method used to reach them means relying on managers pass the information they receive down the line to share with their teams on the ground. Unfortunately, this can lead to 'broken telephone' syndrome where the message is interpreted differently, key details may be missed or the message might not even get to non-desk employees as some managers do a better job of passing on communications that others. The communications team is unable to really know whether the information they send out was actually received by everyone across the organization.
By only relying on the cascading method of communications, you are missing an opportunity to build engagement with non-desk employees. They want to hear from their leadership team and feel included with the rest of the organization. Tribe, an internal communications agency, conducted a study with employees working in various industries from manufacturing to retail, and 84% of those who responded said that the communication they receive from top management is "not enough".
So, how do you actually reach the employees who are on the ground in distribution centres, warehouse, in stores, restaurants or out in delivery vehicles all day? There isn't a clear one-size-fits-all approach, as it is important to consider the physical realties of their jobs and their days to find creative potential touch points that can help drive communication and engagement. Generally, it's a great place to start by using a combination of low-tech and high-tech solutions to build effective channels to reach the front line from corporate.
Here are 4 approaches you should consider:
Commit to having at least one channel through which management will communicate with non-desk employees. This should be a channel that non-desk employees have easy access to and are able to check on a regular basis, and that the communications team is able to update and use frequently and easily. WhatsApp is a powerful tool that can be very effective for internal communications. Try and incorporate a combination of digital touchpoints like a mobile app, video or recorded messages as well as non-digital touchpoints like bulletin boards, a printed magazine or even a quarterly letter from the CEO delivered to employees at their homes.
Ensuring that communication from management reaches non-desk employees is a first and really good step in making sure they are included and get the message, but you also need to enable opportunities for non-desk employees to also share their views, comments and opinions. Two-way communication is essential in building trust and creating an environment where everyone feels that their voice is heard and valued. Whether it's asking for ideas on how to improve processes and systems, or giving comment on proposed changes in the company, this shows that management respects and wants to understand what the realities are for those employees who are out in the field.
Make your non-desk employees heroes! Celebrate and put a spotlight on the contributions of frontline workers by sharing regular pieces highlighting their achievements, or implementing employee recognition programs that highlight and reward excellent performance. This can help to create a positive culture of growth and a feeling of validation for non-desk employees. Happy employees that feel recognized for the good work they do and contributions they make to the organization. They are motivated to perform better and overall provide a higher level of customer service.
Non-desk and frontline employees often feel far removed from the CEO and top management. Breaking down he barriers of an 'us and them' mentality can create a workforce that feels inclusive. There really isn't a substitute for giving all employees an opportunity to meet with the CEO and management team face-to-face, and is particularly meaningful for non-desk employees. Encourage the leadership team to make regular visits to warehouses, factory floors, stores and other non-desk workspaces so that they can engage with the people who are on the ground and doing vital work for the organization.
Ensuring effective internal communications to your non-desk employees may seem like an overwhelming task. Get in touch with us to find out how Sweesh can help you kick your communications into high gear without needing to develop any complicated tools. It's the first step you can take to creating an inclusive communication strategy for all your employees, no matter where they work.
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