New project titled: How to connect frontline workers to IT/Helping frontline workers with the technology they need to thrive. W

Part
01
of one
Part
01

Connecting Workers

Frontline workers are considered to be the face of the company where the first impression is essential as they set the tone for the relationship between the company and customers. Therefore, it is very crucial that frontline workers must be highly engaged and motivated to work to take good care of customers. A PwC report established that 73% of consumers regard customer service as one of their purchase drivers, with 65% emphasizing that customer service has a much greater influence than costly and great advertising.

With the knowledge of the importance of frontline workers in a company, the telling question is if they can be connected to IT. Research proves that it is possible and important that businesses connect frontline workers to IT. This can be achieved by encouraging collaborative working environment, using gamification for motivation, and improving digital internal communications. Before we proceed with an analysis of how to connect frontline workers to IT, let's briefly look at the state of frontline workers engagement.

STATE OF FRONTLINE WORKERS ENGAGEMENT

A publication by Forbes opined that there are 2.7 billion frontline workers around the globe, however, only "13% of them feel engaged at work". In the U.S., only 34% of the entire workforce feel engaged. This is largely due to the fact that they are "often left out of internal communications" and receive minimal investment in digital workplace technology. It is imperative that the entire workforce is included when implementing new technologies and strategies in the workplace, from executives to the bottom line workers, most especially the frontline workers.

How can businesses connect frontline workers to information technology

  • ENCOURAGE COLLABORATIVE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
In recent times, work flexibility is very vital in the day-to-day life of workers. Millions of workers can work anywhere at any time, especially for frontline workers who sometimes operate in multiple locations and rotating shifts. Collaborating platform and tools are valuable for frontline workers for sharing all necessary information in real time. Many companies and organizations see these tools as helpful in the business for creating a positive impact among employees. Disengaged employees have lower morale and are less productive which affects the mood of their colleagues, thus, affecting the overall culture of the company.

There are numerous collaborating tools to facilitate co-working within frontline workers such as file sharing apps and project management tools. These technologies provide access to necessary information and updates that help enhance productivity and boost engagement. A good example of technology tools is Slack and Workplace by Facebook. HubSpot described it as “a team post-it-note board on steroids”. A good example of the company who utilize this is Best Buy with their Blue Shirt Nation, an internal social network of its employees where people in call centers use real-time collaboration to resolve questions by customer "while the operator artfully stalled for time". Collaboration helps the digital transformation of frontline workers, thus, connecting to IT.
  • USE GAMIFICATION TO MOTIVATE FRONTLINE WORKERS
Gamification technology is most especially appropriate in frontline workers such as marketers, salespeople, call center agents, and customer service staff. Employee engagement platforms through gamification are often used to promote productivity and increase engagement in frontline workers. In fact, a gamified learning portal opines that their training "produced a staggering 417% increase". An example of gamification company is AllenComm who was recognized and included in "Training Industry Top 20 Gamification Company". The company has won awards for the gamified solution provided for companies such as HP, Domino's Pizza, and LEGO.

The entertaining aspect of gamification technology helps in closing the gap between frontline workers and how their attitude towards work. The entertaining element of games provides a solution to the engagement problem. Larger companies such as Deloitte, NBC, and IBM have used gamification in their workplaces.
  • IMPROVE DIGITAL INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
The most engaged employees are those that have direct communication lines with management and most informed about the company they work for. However, this kind of employees is few. According to reports, 75% of employees felt out of the loop when it comes to company policy changes, 84% stated that they don't get sufficient information from management, while 50% say they have no clear perception of their company's direction. Many organizations give low priority in communicating with frontline workers. Bad communication results in disconnected and disengaged employees. "Majority of the global workforce is on the frontlines" and the ones that needed the engagement boost most. In order to reach this workforce, companies must utilize a digital internal communication strategy.

Company emails are not as effective as a real-time communication platform as they don't have visibility. Companies should dedicate a channel or platform such as forums for the entire workforce, including frontline workers. Interactive intranet, mobile applications, internal social network or communication software are an example of technology tools that can be utilized to improve communication within the circle of frontline workers, including the management. This way, it will create a two-way dialog where employees can post questions or comments and for management to spread updates and information. There are various internal communication tools and platforms that can be used by frontline workers. This includes HipChat which has a chat room, file sharing, video calling, two-way audio and video call sharing, file transfers, and real-time notification features. Skype is another communication platform with chat, conferencing, instant messaging, voice mail, and file sharing features. Using digital internal communication breaks the traditional barrier between frontline workers and the workplace.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "In the eyes of your customers, your frontline staff is the face of the company - this is where first impressions are formed, and first impressions matter. It only takes three seconds for a customer to evaluate you and your company and, often enough, first impressions set the tone for the relationship that follows. "
  • "The frontline is where all the action happens, and frontline employees need to be equipped with the correct tools and have a support structure in place to be able to deliver a top-notch customer experience consistently in a manner that reflects the company culture and values."
  • "Frontline employees also need to be empowered to take ad hoc decisions to solve simple customer queries, therefore reducing complaints and escalations, and ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience. Consistent customer experience is a key differentiator that will help you stand out versus competition and could ultimately help your business grow."
Quotes
  • "When implementing new technologies and strategies, it’s important to keep the entire workforce in mind — from your C-suite executives to every IT staff member and especially frontline workers, the employees who deal directly with customers or who are directly involved in making the product. "
  • "Frontline workers are often a direct link to your customers, and their interactions and performance arguably have the greatest impact on customer experience. A 2018 PwC report found that "73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.""
  • "Give your frontline workers access to the same tools and technology as the rest of their colleagues so they feel connected to the broader team. Also ensure that your frontline workers have the necessary tools, such as mobile devices, to do their jobs seamlessly and efficiently. "
  • "Frontline workers play an essential role in companies across the world, and their workplace engagement can have a direct effect on customer experience and therefore your bottom line. Considering these tips can help you ensure that your frontline workers feel included and valued as you prepare and scale your digital inclusivity strategy."
Quotes
  • "The majority of the global workforce is on the frontlines, untethered to a desk or corporate communications, but they’re the ones most in need of engagement boosts. To reach those employees, companies need a business communication app that’s specifically designed for a mobile workforce. "
  • "The frontline workforce also receives the least investment in digital workplace technology and are often left out of internal communications. Linking these employees to a business communication app engages and empowers them with information. Every employee wants to be included in corporate updates."
  • "Most companies compete based on customer experience alone which is defined by their interaction with a company’s frontline workforce. Educating, informing, and communicating with that team through a business communication app can build customer loyalty."
Quotes
  • "Customer service is more important than ever in our digital age. According to a recent report by PwC, 73 percent of consumers say that customer service drives their purchase decisions, and 65 percent find great customer service more influential than great advertising. "
  • "Engaging a nondesk workforce requires more than paper notices on the break room bulletin board. Truly engaging front-line workers takes time, care and ingenuity, but opening the lines of communication is critical to survival in today’s marketplace. "
  • "If there’s a singular constant among organizations with highly engaged front-line workers, it’s communication. Effectively communicating brand values, product or promotional knowledge, and performance feedback is key to success."
Quotes
  • "Well, some companies feel hesitant to issue their staff with new dangly gadgets, like mobile phones, smart devices, tablets, and so on. Employers think these things are productivity sinks that take up people’s time with games about candy and farms and pirates."
  • "What we’re saying here is that companies should use technology to encourage workers to work and train virtually. If they do that, then they reap the benefits of happier, more motivated, and more productive employees."
  • "Oh, and did we mention communication? With today’s technologies, it’s easy to use professional social media and collaboration tools to keep up-to-date on projects instantaneously."
  • "All we’re saying is that using remote work and online communication helps us to boost employee engagement by allowing more and better communication between workers, no matter where they may be. "
Quotes
  • "Make use of familiar tools that break down barriers and allow anyone to share an idea from the firstline to the boardroom."
  • "In addition, Maor and her coauthors urge executives to launch “creative, more digital approaches to engaging employees,” including social media, change-management apps or games, and live-feedback tools."
  • "“Employees can also use these tools to explore and engage with the changes being made, on their own terms and with the ability to provide feedback,” they add. Ultimately, a more connected organization is a more productive one, enabling all employees to turn their ideas into actions."
  • "Preparing and enabling firstline worker participation in digital transformation requires a strategy that involves training, technology, autonomy and information sharing. "
Quotes
  • "Without fostering a closer working relationship between IT experts and frontline employees, shadow IT can quickly become a practice that threatens enterprise security. While there are many different approaches to strengthening this collaboration, one that I’d recommend is implementing more real-time feedback options."
  • "Creating a direct and immediate line of communication between IT and the frontline is the first step to bolstering mutual engagement."
Quotes
  • " The platform was built on ancient technology, but nonetheless helped to solve scores of small but critical problems that were affecting customer service. "
  • " I have seen firsthand how people working in call centers use real-time collaboration to resolve complex customer questions while the operator artfully stalled for time."
  • "Very quickly, a dozen possible opportunities for deploying collaboration and social tools will become apparent. These can generally be winnowed down to a few possible starting points."
Quotes
  • "AllenComm has been named on the prestigious Training Industry Top 20 Gamification Company List as one of the pre-eminent gamification training companies within the Learning and Development industry"
  • " AllenComm has won awards for their gamified learning solutions for clients like LEGO, Domino’s Pizza, Akamai, and HP."
Quotes
  • "Gamification software is any tool or platform used for applying game mechanics to non-game contexts in order to boost engagement and successful end-results. Common use cases include customer loyalty, e-learning, employee engagement, and performance management."
  • "By harnessing the entertaining aspects of games, gamification technology offers organizations a solution to their engagement problems."
  • " In many of its initial applications, gamification has had impressive results, leading global organizations such as IBM, Deloitte, and NBC to use gamification in their marketing campaigns and workplaces, and even acquiring gamification startups to permanently integrate the technology into their software and business models."
Quotes
  • "It’s harder than ever for businesses to reach and align an increasingly dispersed, diverse workforce. Today’s companies must adjust how they communicate with employees and how they help them communicate with each"
  • "One way to do this is to reach and engage your entire workforce with more targeted, personalized corporate and executive communications."
  • "An interactive intranet streamlines this type of communication. HR can post a blog about the new program, and employees can respond with questions or comments in real-time. This cuts down on inbox clutter and provides HR with valuable insights. "
  • "Rather than posting content and hoping it gets read, HR can review data and act on the findings to ensure all employees and teams are aware of important changes and conversations."
Quotes
  • "Many companies make communicating with non-desk employees a low priority."
  • "It’s a huge mistake not to engage your frontline employees in the vision and values of the company, in the brand promise the company makes to consumers, and what the brand stands for in the world."
  • "Instead, build channels directly from corporate management to the non-desk audience. There’s a significant downside when corporate leaders leave this population out of the loop."
  • "Commit to at least one channel through which non-desk employees will hear from management. These might include a mobile app that employees download on their personal devices, an employee magazine mailed home or printed table tents in breakrooms."