We live in an incredible moment of employee choice. With unemployment at near-record lows, workers feel more comfortable finding new jobs than ever before. That means employee retention must be a top priority for business leaders. But how do you keep employees satisfied and motivated? Often, it comes down to communication.
Communication is vital in every industry, but especially important for businesses with a high percentage of frontline workers who fall outside the scope of traditional communication strategies. The best employee communication tools provide powerful ways to keep frontline workers engaged, informed, and productive.
Why Communication Tools Are Essential for Frontline Workers
When we think about work, we tend to picture people sitting at computers, either in an office or at home. But in reality, 80% of the global workforce works away from a desk.
In the US alone, there are over 30 million frontline workers.
Across nearly every industry, these frontline workers often face similar communication challenges.
- They don’t have a company email address, and, even if they do, they aren’t able to consistently check email throughout the day.
- There’s no central repository to easily access documentation, processes, handbooks, and other resources.
- They miss major messages and spend too much time looking for important information.
- They are disconnected from each other and the team’s central organizing principles.
These challenges can translate to a lack of engagement and enthusiasm. In fact, a 2021 report found that 48% of organizations with poor communication practices reported low or neutral employee engagement. Only 12% of organizations with robust communication strategies reported the same.
Positive communication leads to increased productivity and better retention. It can even enhance your brand. Ultimately, communication minimizes the need to constantly recruit and train new employees and protects institutional knowledge and experience. So, what are the best employee communication tools for frontline workers?
The Best Employee Communication Tools
Today, there are more employee communication tools than ever before. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know what you need and what you don’t.
Any digital communication platform should be able to send announcements, facilitate collaboration, and ensure everyone’s voice is heard through two-way communication.
However, the most effective tools for a frontline workforce go beyond that to include:
Most workplaces, whether retail stores or warehouses, have some kind of breakroom, employee entrance, or gathering space that people pass through. These are great places to install digital signs announcing new policies, celebrating successes, and making general announcements.
Of course, not every employee passes through these common areas every day. And not every organization wants to invest in digital signs in every workplace. But for those that do, they can be an effective way to get attention for major messages.
Central Documentation Hub
According to our research, frontline employees spend 2-4 hours every week searching for the information they need to do their jobs. That’s a significant chunk of the workweek—as much as 10%! It’s time that isn’t productive, and it is deeply frustrating for the worker.
Having a centralized digital hub for documentation and communication means employees don’t have to waste time hunting down resources. To make the most of employee communication tools, they should be intuitive and easy to use. To meet the needs of frontline workers, they also have to be mobile-friendly and accessible to workers who aren’t behind a computer all day. The information age has to work for everyone.
Recognition is an invaluable employee retention strategy that can take many forms. These include:
- Shout-outs to high-performing employees
- Calling out teams that went above and beyond
- Showing success stories at an individual, team, or company level
- Sharing stories of successful rollouts of new processes
Individual recognition makes employees feel good and fosters a sense of belonging. Showing how well the company is doing can provide a motivational boost. It’s important that everyone has a way to see themselves and their peers being recognized.
Simply dropping employee recognition in the quarterly company newsletter often buries the news. Recognition must be part of an overall communication strategy.
Surveys are an excellent way to anonymously gauge employee satisfaction, evaluate policies, and gather ideas directly from your workforce. You can measure overall happiness, confidence in new processes, and even comprehension of procedures.
Think of mobile-first survey tools as a digital, transparent alternative to directly asking employees what they think, which is often intimidating and doesn’t always lead to honest answers. Showing that you take their opinions and concerns into account can foster a sense of community and help build a more productive environment. It also ensures you don’t miss out on new ideas or opportunities to improve because you didn’t ask.
Workplace flexibility is one of the top five HR trends going into 2022, and recent research makes it easy to see why.
Today’s workforce wants flexibility. According to Gartner, nearly half of frontline workers say they want more control over when, where, and how much they work. Yet, less than a third have flexibility in any of those areas.
Advanced scheduling tools can enhance flexibility by giving employees and managers new capabilities. These include:
- Access to schedules from anywhere
- Easy communication with colleagues to switch shifts
- A simple approval process for shift changes
All of this brings workers closer to the work-life balance they deserve. When something comes up, they don’t have to make a flurry of phone calls and scramble to get coverage. They can find what they need and are empowered to take control of their lives.
The Tool That Has Everything
Successful internal communication isn’t just a matter of sending an employee an email thanking them for doing something right or putting up a notice in a breakroom. True communication is a multi-faceted process.
Beekeeper’s innovative mobile workforce management platform is a two-way communication channel, a mobile-first hub that integrates document-sharing tools, a message board, a survey-taker, and so much more. It’s scalable, easy to use, and designed for the unique needs of frontline workers. It even integrates with existing digital signage.
Beekeeper is the leading communication and collaboration platform for the frontline workforce that ties everything together, giving you the edge you need in an evolving frontline workspace.