Communication isn’t a buzzword.
Socialize is a buzzword. Ideate is a buzzword. Half the acronyms you see online are just abbreviated buzzwords. But on the frontline, communication isn’t something that sounds good—it’s the lifeblood of business.
Good communication is how plans created in the boardroom get implemented in the real world. Communication is how teams collaborate, how managers delegate, and how individual employees feel empowered to make better decisions. Ultimately, better communication means better products and services, which means a healthier bottom line.
Employee communication best practices ensure that managers can manage, workers can work, and plans become reality. It might not be buzzy, but good communication on the frontline is more important than ever.
The Power of Communication on the Frontline
Good workplace communication is more than someone in a position of authority saying words and someone else hearing them. That’s not communication; that’s more of a Zen koan: what happens if a manager speaks and no one listens?
To be powerful, communication has to convey intention, action, empathy, and meaning. It has to be delivered in a way that is relevant and accessible, and it has to be fully understood by the recipient. Endless memos and unexplained directives aren’t communication. They’re just words.
Communication should be:
Excellent frontline employee communication achieves three overlapping and mutually reinforcing objectives.
- Promote Engagement. Our research has shown that only 31% of employees feel engaged by their work. This is partly because they have no context around changes, and don’t feel like they’re part of the larger organization. Clear, consistent communication gives employees more understanding, structure, and motivation and creates opportunities for engagement.
- Increase Efficiency. Poor communication causes delays, misunderstandings, and mistakes, and means employees don’t have the tools they need to do their best work. Ensuring employees have the information they need removes roadblocks and improves both individual and organizational efficiency.
- Boost productivity. Informed, engaged, and confident employees are more productive. When frontline employees are kept in the loop, they do better work.
Ultimately, frontline employee best practices are about helping employees make the right decisions and perform at their best.
Frontline Employee Communication Best Practices for Business Leaders
Good corporate communication doesn’t happen by accident. Employee communication best practices help frontline businesses create meaningful strategies that set teams up for success.
Set a Goal
Too many communication plans are ad hoc. A strong communication strategy must start with a goal and work backwards from there.
Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish. This can include:
- Increasing retention
- Promoting internal recruiting and referrals
- Generating feedback from employees
- Automating wasteful processes
- Freeing up managers’ time
Identifying your goal is essential for developing a communication strategy that works.
Videos. Chat. Documentation. Digital town halls. Powerpoints. Message board blasts. Memes. There are a lot of ways to communicate. Which one is best for you? Chances are, the answer is all of them.
Depending on the message, audience, and company culture, different formats can be used for different types of communication. Don’t be afraid to embrace what works best in any given situation—even if it means changing the way it’s always been done. Communication that is rigid becomes communication that is ignored.
Shift to Video
While video isn’t the right medium for all messages or audiences, it’s a powerful one for many. After 72 hours, the average person retains 95% of what they saw in a video while they retain only 10% of what they have read. That’s why having videos for onboarding, ongoing training, policy changes, and more can make a big difference.
But not all videos are equal. The best videos for frontline employee communication are:
- Short (no more than 6 minutes)
- Accompanied by visual elements such as whiteboarding and graphics
- Augmented by quizzes
Incorporating video messaging in your communication strategy expands your ability to connect to employees and have a lasting impact.
Communication can’t be a one-way street. Frontline employees must have ways to communicate with managers and executives. After all, they’re the ones who see how decisions made in the boardroom impact day-to-day operations and can offer fresh, on-the-ground perspectives.
Inviting feedback doesn’t mean VPs need to have an open-door policy. It can come in the form of surveys, digital suggestion boxes, and message boards. It can include official channels of communication and less formal ones.
Two-way communication helps employees feel heard, valued, and part of something bigger than themselves. It also gives leaders real insight into what it is like on the frontlines. That can fuel meaningful change for everyone.
Communicate in a Language Employees Understand
The monolingual frontline workforce is increasingly rare. Whether your workforce is in one town, spread out across the country, or scattered around the world, you need to communicate in the language that is most comfortable for each employee. With inline translation tools, it’s not just possible, it’s easy.
To make a true impact, translation should happen across the board, including in surveys, announcements, and chats. That’s how you create universal engagement and make everyone feel like part of the team.
Unifying applications into one hub makes it easy for employees and managers to use multiple apps as efficiently as possible. Digital workforce software integration saves time and effort while increasing security and maximizing the value of your communication tools.
Your workers aren’t sitting behind desks. They’re on the floor, in the field, on the road. They aren’t glued to a laptop or checking email all day. That’s why going mobile is one of the most important employee communication practices for frontline workers. With a mobile-friendly frontline operating system, communication is just a tap away.
The Value of Starting off Right
Employee communication best practices should start the moment a new employee joins the team.
Onboarding should ensure frontline workers:
- Understand all the policies and processes
- Have awareness of the products or services they’ll be responsible for
- Know how to use all equipment safely and effectively
- Are aware of the why of their job, not just the how
- Know where to find answers to questions
Employees who don’t have this basis of knowledge struggle and can affect the efficiency and productivity of operations as a whole. In fact, teams with effective onboarding procedures experience 70% greater productivity than those that don’t.
An onboarding process built on employee communication best practices sets the stage for better performance, longer retention, and stronger teams.
Communication Meets People Where They Are
Communication has to be more than words. To truly communicate, your ideas have to reach the people you intend to reach, both literally and metaphorically. Beekeeper helps you do just that.
Beekeeper’s innovative frontline operating system offers the tools and capabilities you need to put frontline employee communication best practices into action. Developed specifically for frontline-majority businesses, Beekeeper goes beyond buzz to transform how frontline teams connect, learn, and grow.
There’s nothing new about the need for true communication for frontline workers. But with Beekeeper, you can take an old idea and make it work for the modern workforce.