If there’s one major lesson that many companies have learned the past few months it’s the importance of how they respond to a situation. An agile business structure is more likely to survive the impact of this global pandemic. That adaptability often comes from a digitally-led operational communication strategy.
For the industrial manufacturing sector that relies on a predominantly frontline workforce, 41% of companies are worried about the impact this crisis will have on productivity.
The ability to keep their workforce safe, productive, and engaged through this unprecedented event has hinged on good communication. With digital tools, companies have been able to:
- Connect to every employee
- Create a streamlined channel for messaging
- Send out real-time messaging to keep pace with the daily updates
- Keep workers productive and secure during uncertainty
In our recent industrial webinar, Beekeeper heard from four executives and discussed how digital communication has enabled them to build a resilient workforce, maintain productivity levels, and ensure the health and safety of their workers. Moderator Juan Muldoon, a partner at Beekeeper investor Energize Ventures, led the discussion.
Meet our four panelists:
- Nancy Brown Chamblee, President of Manchester Tank and Equipment
- Susan Shriver, Compensation, Compliance and HRIS, The David J Joseph Company
- Stephanie Parrish, Marketing Communications Lead, Byrne
- Kash Siddiqui, Senior Principal, Accenture Ventures
Learn how industrial companies are pivoting to digital communication strategies to build resilient workforces and maintain consistent operations with these top takeaways from the webinar.
Supporting a Safety-First Culture
A core value for many industrial companies is building and maintaining a safety-first culture. Not only must companies prepare for industry-specific hazards, their enterprise risk management framework should prepare them for any unexpected internal or external event. A digital communication solution can help them do just that.
Stephanie Parrish, the Marketing Communications Lead at Byrne, an electrical and power manufacturer, said having an emergency response plan in place and protocols for the unexpected has helped to keep people safe as well as maintaining productivity on the production line.
At David J. Joseph, scrap metal, freight, and transportation specialists, individual plants are recognized for safety milestones and workers are recognized for what leaders call a “great catch,” or discovering safety hazards.
Company leaders normally pay a visit to plants to recognize and celebrate their teams’ commitment to safety. But with social distancing measures they have moved recognition ceremonies online to Beekeeper. Susan ensures that every employee knows how to tag their colleagues on the workforce app. “We have relied even more on Beekeeper in terms of making sure pictures and descriptions of what’s being celebrated is out there.”
Agility is Key to a Rapidly Changing Work Environment
According to McKinsey, digital tools and transformation will help companies recover faster from the impacts of COVID-19. At the companies represented in this webinar, having a workforce app in place has allowed them to pivot communication strategies to support their workforce and limit disruptions.
For industrial companies, digital communication has supported the ever-changing landscape in several ways.
- At Byrne, they have “completely accelerated the amount of content messaging and frequency that we communicate to our employees.” to remain productive while keeping the workforce safe.
- At David J. Joseph, in-person pre-shift kickoff meetings happened every day. Now, information is not targeted by shift but distributed workforce wide through Beekeeper which helps create “one true, reliable source of information” for employees.
- Manchester Tank and Equipment, a producer of industrial and chemical vessels, was only two months into their Beekeeper rollout. They had initially planned to roll out “slowly and methodically.” But then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, leaders could no longer do their daily walkthroughs with frontline workers to solve problems.
“With voids in communication, needing to communicate quickly with everyone at the same time, Beekeeper became a very valuable tool very quickly and really accelerated our implementation for the whole project.”
Reaching Every Employee
With 75% – 80% of workers on the frontlines, each company represented on our panel needed a digital solution in order to reach every employee. This need became urgent when COVID-19 entered the picture.
“I had no efficient way to communicate with our entire workforce across the globe which spans multiple countries, and multiple plants,” says Nancy Brown Chamblee. It took a couple of days to get messaging to employees in every one of Manchester’s locations.
Beekeeper removed those communication challenges. “That speed and reduction in time has just been a huge value to the team.”
Fostering Engagement and Building Trust
The constant connection between employee and employer that a digital workplace allows has been a tool for boosting engagement and securing trust during uncertain times.
Kash Siddiqui of Accenture Ventures, a strategic investing and consulting firm, recognizes the power of analytics in tools like Beekeeper that can help guide leaders to better communication strategies. Companies are “collecting data via various technology tools to change either the frequency or content of their communications. Providing data helps make communications stickier by giving it context.” Customizing content that works best for a workforce increases connection and engagement.
Byrne Buzz is what they call Byrne’s internal network for employees. “We’re communicating every day the ways to stay safe and healthy,” says Stephanie Parrish. She uses Beekeeper’s secure platform to create “one source of truth” for their workforce by:
- Creating streams where employees can voice their concerns
- Adding messages from the CEO twice a week to help employees understand what’s going on.
- Created a COVID response team, designed a new playbook immediately, and continually let employees know new ways of working.
“In times when anxiety is high, connecting with team members to reinforce why the work they’re doing is important helps them feel valued and secured. Our frontline teams are working very hard, and they need confidence and trust in our leadership team which we can build through good, consistent communication.”-Nancy Brown Chamblee, Manchester Tank and Equipment
The Need to Embrace Technology for Greater Resilience
Each business leader on our panel has emphasized how shifting from traditional to digital communication has supported their rapid transition to crisis communications. It has also enabled them to speed up communication with their entire teams. Beekeeper is helping them limit disruptions, streamline communications, and lead the way to a faster recovery.
“Digitization has become a new norm now. It used to be a good-to-have thing but now it’s become a critical factor. Every business needs to have a digitization transformation which is driven by digital tools as part of their strategy moving forward. Because this pandemic has taught us that we can really respond to these kind of events much more effectively if they are technology driven.”-Kash Siddiqui, Senior Principal, Accenture Ventures