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.