Service organizations that employ field teams and logistics firms that use distributed workforces have always faced unique obstacles on their respective paths to digital transformation. These challenges are especially evident when considering the ability of firms like these to effectively connect with employees – whether to inform, educate, motivate, or execute on other tasks critical to staff performance and corporate success.
By definition, these “remote” types of field/distributed workers are just that – physically “distant”, geographically “dispersed”, “isolated”, and “apart”. Sure, they spend the majority of their time on the road servicing accounts or operating in a model that lacks a central office or corporate headquarters. But that shouldn’t mean that critical communications have to suffer. Times have changed and technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
Beyond early-stage solutions and tools designed for traditional in-office employees who had access to a desktop computer – think email and intranet – the alternatives today are numerous, customizable, and far more effective. Mobile technologies and apps are universal, as are smartphones. In fact, according to Pew Research, more than 81% of all adults in the United States own a smartphone, up from just 35% in 2011.
The reality is that the vast majority of US workers in today’s market have an incredible amount of connectivity and computing power in their pockets, virtually 24/7. Spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis, forward-thinking companies are beginning to take advantage of this potent delivery channel, providing frontline engagement tools that connect employees – via their smartphones – to a wealth of information about their company, job, benefits, colleagues, policies, schedule, and compensation. And in doing so, they are able to meet employees where they work and where they live – enhancing communication and productivity levels while saving time and money.
Due to these compelling advancements, service companies and logistics/delivery organizations now have the ability to drastically improve how they engage and communicate with frontline workers and “non-desktop” employees. But positioning these types of employees for success in using new communications tools has historically been quite challenging. Consider the following:
Training – Training in-office workers is relatively straightforward. Develop a curriculum, then gather groups of employees in a conference room with a facilitator or send a video link that can be accessed/viewed via a desktop computer. But things become a bit more complex with frontline workers who serve as part of a field team or in a distributed workforce environment. Face-to-face interactions with a trainer, supervisor, or colleague are limited to non-existent, and the more traditional training they do receive typically focuses on how to perform their core duties rather than how to communicate within the company. Any technology built with desk-based workers in mind will most likely present issues for frontline employees.
Onboarding and Access – Distributed and field employees are not as easily onboarded to new technologies, which creates activation and/or access issues. Even after activation, a large percentage of employees often experience login or other technical issues that require troubleshooting help or IT assistance. Those issues become even more of a hurdle for field team members or employees that don’t have access to a field office or a headquarter-type facility.
Communications Discovery and Relevance – Many organizations send out a high volume of non-targeted communications to employees, which conditions workers to ignore messages that are relevant. This is even more true of employees in the field who spend far less time on a device checking messages. As a result, important updates are often missed, role-specific memos are ignored, and other meaningful emails are disregarded. For these frontline employees, ensuring that company communication is targeted, relevant and easily discoverable is critical.
Through a strategic partnership, UKG and Beekeeper are collaborating to address these challenges, delivering customizable and scalable communication apps to leading organizations in the Service Delivery and Logistics industries that:
Intuitive – Familiarity drives engagement and utilization, so app features and functionality are modeled after popular mobile and social platforms. Employees chat with a manager in much the same way they’d use the most popular mobile instant messaging applications. Workers comment on and share company posts the same they would on popular social media pages. In this way, employees are “pre-trained” and do not require additional guidance on how to engage with the company, managers, and coworkers.
Manager-Activated – Relying on IT to assign and activate customer engagement apps/tools for (as well as manage passwords, profiles, and permissions) can be challenging for field teams. Beekeeper and UKG instead follow a best-practice approach in which user information is automatically synchronized across applications, ensuring accounts are tailored and ready for all new employees. At that point, managers use admin tools to activate new employee accounts at the appropriate time.
Configurable – To keep employees engaged, the information they receive must be timely, accurate, and relevant. Because departments and roles vary across an organization, the app must be flexible enough to support individual profiles and permission-based configurations. The types of content workers most often gravitate toward and engage with include shift information, location-specific news, employee recognition, team/department collaboration memos, and leadership updates from across the organization.
For more information on how Beekeeper and UKG can help improve communication with and among your field team or remote workforce, drive employee engagement, enhance productivity, contact us today at [email protected] or 773 294 9052.