Disengagement amongst the frontline workforce is high. According to the latest Gallup Workplace Report, only 21 percent of employees consider themselves to be engaged by their roles, highlights David Rogers.
This matters for a variety of reasons. Disengaged employees are not only less productive than their engaged counterparts, but they are a lot less loyal too, meaning that attrition is much higher.
And this can impact customer service, and influence brand perception by the public. But while most managers are aware of the impact of employee disengagement, not all understand what causes it or how to fix it. While there are many factors that can influence how an individual feels about their job and their employer, one area that is commonly overlooked is team integration. And this can be relatively easily addressed through the application of technology.
The problem of team integration
Frontline workers are typically deskless. Whether they work in retail, hospitality, or care, they will have no fixed workspace to call their own. And no way, beyond the occasional team briefing, to access information or stay abreast of what’s happening within the wider company. This alone is enough to make them feel separated from their office-based colleagues.
But, if the situation is left unaddressed, and individuals feel slighted or viewed as ‘second-class,’ it is easy for a destructive ‘them and us’ culture to develop. And when you add in boredom, disengagement, a lack of autonomy, and a lower pay scale, it is easy for resentment to creep in.
While technology does not have the power to resolve all of these issues, it can help in a number of areas that can improve morale and increase the sense of cohesion across the business.
How can technology improve frontline worker integration and engagement?
There is no single fix for the problems of frontline worker engagement and integration. But technology can help in a couple of important areas.
The quickest and easiest way for businesses to help their employees to truly feel as if they were a part of a wider team is to focus on communication. Deskless workers can easily feel like they are being excluded from important information. Without access to dedicated email or intranet systems, they are reliant upon their managers, team briefings, and notice boards to stay in the loop. And when time is limited, information is often missed, and issues that may matter to an individual, overlooked.
An employee portal, accessible through each individual’s smartphone, puts all relevant information into team members’ hands. It also allows for advanced, company-wide communication. So, if an employee wishes to raise an issue above their direct line manager, they can easily do so. They can ask questions, provide feedback – and receive feedback where it is due. Creating an open network of communication and transparency across the business.
Directly linked to communication is learning and development (L&D). Most businesses have an L&D programme available for their teams. Few employees take advantage of it. But in most instances, this is not through a lack of interest, but rather through a lack of knowledge. Because the opportunities are not clearly communicated.
When you have an employee portal, training opportunities can be delivered to each individual. Each employee can access what they want to learn, when they want to do so. Taking control of their own L&D, managing their own career. And this not only fosters greater engagement, but can help build team loyalty as those who want to advance their careers feel invested in. While your business cultivates its own talent for the future.
When everything you do at work is dictated to you, it is easy to take umbrage. Unfortunately, this is the lot of most frontline workers. They have no control over scheduling or when they get paid. And every accommodation has to be negotiated with a line manager.
With Open Shift Management technology, workers can take back control of some of the more important aspects of their work. They gain the power to change shifts independently. They can book holidays remotely, and take on extra work where extra shifts are available – even moving between local branches, if the need arises. They can manage their own payment schedule – switching away from a monthly pay packet, to weekly or fortnightly pay. And they can manage their own working day – accepting their list of allocated tasks, and working to their own timetable.
Frontline workforce technology is about making work easier and more rewarding for the most populous sector of business. Around 80 percent of the global workforce works on the frontline. Without them, most businesses would grind to a halt. And yet few companies take pains to make these workers feel like valued members of their team. Providing autonomy and value, technology can ease company-wide integration, while removing the common obstacles that lead to employee disengagement.
David Rogers, Vice-President of Sales (EMEA) at WorkJam.