Communicating with a frontline workforce is a consistent challenge. There’s often no central place to gather, and no easy way to reach everyone. That has serious implications for a frontline-majority business. Employees miss directives. Training becomes inconsistent. Frontline workers feel disconnected, unengaged, and unmotivated.
Frontline workers care about getting the proper training, understanding process and product changes, and working in safe conditions. The best communication tools for teams on the frontline make these possible.
The Challenges of Connecting Frontline Teams
Communicating with large workforces is never easy. It becomes considerably harder when employees are on the frontline and dispersed across the country or even around the world. Some of the most significant communication challenges for frontline workforces include:
- Lack of centralized logins/email. Retail employees and other frontline workers rarely have company emails or a central place to log in and access information. That makes it so much harder to ensure information gets to everyone. You can’t just hit “Send To: All” when “All” doesn’t include everyone.
- No central meeting spot. Frontline teams typically don’t have a central spot for everyone to get information. Even if there’s a bulletin board (or equivalent) at every location, it’s impossible to measure how many employees have read and understand the information. And, of course, many messages require more than a bulletin board.
- Difficulty accessing vital documentation. Employees in an office have easy access to files and documents related to products, processes, and safety. It gets much harder to find these documents without a central information hub.
- Inconsistent hours. Frontline workers aren’t always on a 9-5 shift. That means gathering everyone together in the same room can be impossible.
- Language barriers. In a diverse workforce, there will likely be multiple languages spoken at your job sites. While a multilingual workforce has great benefits, it can also make it hard to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Communication tools for teams on the frontline are designed to help frontline-majority workforces overcome these challenges and become stronger together.
The 7 Best Communication Tools for Frontline Teams
Communication technology is a great way to make workplaces more human, empower employees to make good decisions, and foster better company cultures. Right now, however, Frontline workers think that their office-based counterparts have better technology than they do. And they’re usually right. Many frontline workplaces simply don’t give employees the tools they need.
Yet, 63% of frontline workers are excited about the possibilities that communication technology will bring to their jobs. The key is to make those possibilities a reality. Here are the tools to make it happen:
Frontline workers need a fast and secure way to communicate with each other. Without company email, they often turn to unsecure consumer apps, which is not an ideal way to communicate potentially sensitive information.
Secure chat functionality allows for easy, quick, and secure communication on the go. When an issue comes up, mobile chat allows employees to communicate, share ideas, and find answers.
That’s the heart of team communications: sharing information and suggestions to solve problems.
Secure File Sharing
Frontline employees need a way to access and share key documentation. Whether it’s product information, company policies, or personnel documents, these files aren’t the kind of thing you want to send over personal email or text. That’s why secure file sharing is essential. It ensures documents can be accessed and shared quickly and safely.
Image and Video Sharing
Communication isn’t just about words. Images and videos are a powerful way to convey information quickly. They can also be an important part of team-building, whether officially or informally.
Some of the things you can do with image and video sharing include:
- Onboard new employees
- Submit instant mobile maintenance reports
- Create virtual tours
- Recognize employees
- Cultivate company culture by sharing videos and photos of team events
Words tell a story. Images and videos bring that story to life.
News and Updates
New products. Promotions. Sales targets. Anniversaries. Achievements. Day-to-day communications about what’s happening in the organization are what bind a company together. These updates—including employee recognition—are key to increasing employee engagement.
- Sharing company news provides context to change and boosts implementation
- Making employees aware of the impact of their work is motivating
- Helping employees see themselves as part of a bigger team creates community
Sharing news isn’t about checking boxes. It’s about forging genuine connections.
Scheduling is often an ongoing challenge for frontline teams. Especially today, when so much can change on a day-to-day basis, the ability to access schedules through a central communication tool helps employees plan their lives and helps managers ensure staffing needs are met. That’s why having shift scheduling software is so important.
Seeing a schedule in advance lets employees plan for their shifts. If they can’t make a shift, they have plenty of time to communicate with their team and find a replacement.
Shift scheduling software:
- Reduces absenteeism
- Improves efficiency
- Reduces confusion over scheduling changes
- Increases productivity
- Eliminate stressful understaffed shifts
When employees have more ownership over their schedules, they are more engaged.
Internal communication is invaluable for improving engagement and boosting productivity. But too often, frontline workers don’t have easy access to management or their peers. Even if they want to reach out, they may not know how to reach out. An employee directory changes that.
An employee directory should allow users to search for employees by:
- Job title
When employees can connect to colleagues and communicate directly, new opportunities for connection and collaboration are born.
A diverse, multilingual workforce is an asset. To fully empower your workforce, all employees must have access to training manuals, documentation, and day-to-day communication in their preferred language.
Instant, inline translation reduces miscommunication and supports team-building. When everyone is on the same page, employees become more engaged, more productive, and happier and workplaces feel more like a community.
Better Technology for Better Frontline Communication
The 7 communication tools above each play a valuable role for frontline workers. When employees are connected, they receive proper training from the start. They share information. They get the support they need. They build bridges between locations and strengthen their internal teams.
But communication tools for teams on the frontline work best when they are integrated into a single, seamless digital workplace.
Beekeeper is the operating system for frontline businesses that offers all of these tools in one easy-to-use app. With our comprehensive solution, frontline workers are set up for success, both individually and as a team.
At the end of the day, this technology is about people. It’s about bringing that vital messaging to workers anywhere in the world and creating new ways to collaborate.