It has been a tough year for business. Many organizations have had to evolve their operating models overnight, go to great lengths to keep their people safe and build entirely new ways of working to ensure they can stay afloat. A lot has had to fast forward five years into the future in a few months – and that’s no mean feat.
One area where companies have really had to pay attention during COVID-19 is to their frontline workers. Often some of the least engaged employees within their company – with just 14% feeling connected to their HQ last year – frontline workers have been some of the most exposed during the pandemic.
With this group unable to take advantage of the remote work options offered to HQ colleagues, or in many cases even access company email, organizations from transport, retail, healthcare, and more have been re-evaluating how they can connect with the people on their frontline.
Communicating well with frontline staff can make the difference for an organization over the long term, but doing it the right way becomes even more important when a pandemic is hitting the whole World.
And when we talk about communication made right, we’re not referring to the old concepts of ‘employee engagement’ and ‘good for business’ – we’re actually talking about a health and safety imperative which ties directly into the company transformation.
Increasingly we see that enterprises and big brands need to open far more flexible channels of communications with their non-desk-based teams. We’ve witnessed businesses baffled on how to proceed throughout the pandemic, though with the correct systems in place they’re able to poll, survey and quiz their front line teams to provide insight into customer and store feedback; this is an extremely important dimension when operating in rolling pandemic uncertainty. Weekly hit surveys across regional operations can make the difference between optimal trading strategy and precious resource waste. All done by cultivating data from the front lines
Empower and Support your Frontline Employees
As we know, COVID-19 forced many organizations to realize their frontline workers are an essential audience they have to serve if they want to keep their people and customers safe. This means providing access to the latest company regulations, health guidance, procedures and leadership updates. And not in the quarterly company magazine, but in real-time.
For many companies, this has meant turning on new tech. Collaboration platforms that require little training have enabled information to reach the frontline instantly during the pandemic, often where it hasn’t before. As a company, we’ve witnessed how important it has been for the global organizations we work with to have in place the right tools to reach every employees and keep everybody aligned – especially in times like these.
But there’s not just a tech question at play here. When frontline staff are putting themselves at risk and operating under uncertainty, a corporate email update won’t cut it. People want genuine communication from their employers, and we’ve seen leaders using new formats like live video to share news transparently and get real-time questions and feedback. It’s these companies, who are honest with their frontline and encourage honest feedback, that will earn the trust of their employees for the long-haul.
The Future of Frontline comms
The last few months aren’t an anomaly. Employees working in the field or on the frontline will remain pivotal to the COVID-19 response for many months to come – whether that’s enforcing social distancing rules in supermarkets or on planes or helping to cure patients in hospitals. Organisations will need to continue to listen, check-in and put these employees at the centre of their operating strategies in order to reopen (and stay open) in a way that protects staff and customers.
Regional ‘cluster culture’ was once something that HQ’s wished to wash over with on-brand messaging, increasingly we’re witnessing (and supporting) these microcosms. Why, it provides the confidence to local managers to foster autonomy, creativity and regional innovation. These, in turn, feed into regional engagement and satisfaction, keeping workers integrated within, now precious roles. It all starts with technology and its implementation. A butterfly flaps its wings, so they say..
But even beyond that, the fact remains that frontline workers know how customers interact with a business. There’s a clear opportunity for organisations to apply the frontline lessons learned from the pandemic and level the playing field across the organisation?
Let’s face it, there’s plenty of great talent in our organisation that works outside of HQ. The only way we’re going to keep and nurture that talent is if we can provide a consistent employee experience for all, ensuring every person in the organisation has access to leadership, colleagues and company news.