Three Ways to Improve the Employee Experience for Deskless Workers
SVP, Employee Experience Strategy
Whether they’re out on the sales or factory floor, in the field, or on the road, deskless workers are the driving force behind many organizations’ success—without them, operations would grind to a halt.
Due to their physical distance from upper management, deskless workers are often the least engaged part of any organization and are directly impacted by an organization’s biggest weaknesses, such as inconsistent communication methods, rigid policies, and outdated technology. They also increasingly skew younger—with Millennials and Generation Z now comprising much of the global deskless workforce—and have different technological, personal, and professional needs than the generations that came before them.
According to Gallup, engaging employees can result in a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 24% decrease in turnover, and a 17% increase in productivity and is a strong focus for organization’s moving forward. A Gartner, Inc. survey conducted in May 2020 found that 64% of HR leaders are prioritizing employee experience more than they did before the pandemic.
But despite the benefits of a highly engaged workforce and increasing investments towards it, a critical mass of employers still aren’t providing the kinds of work experiences frontline staff have come to expect and deserve. Sadly, many employers are unaware there’s even a problem, nor the role technology plays in fixing it.
To thrive in the global economy, employers must find meaningful ways to improve the employee experience and provide usable, functional technology that allows deskless workers to stay connected and engaged on the job.
As with any organizational change, taking the first step is often the hardest part. But our new study, The Workforce Experience Gap, and recent customer success stories show that improvements to the employee experience can increase productivity, strengthen workplace bonds, and often lead to untapped long-term benefits.
Here are three ways to get started with improving the employee experience for deskless workers in your organization:
Provide Greater Flexibility
Scheduling employees effectively is an ongoing struggle for employers and (when improperly managed) can be a point of contention amongst employees. That’s because scheduling not only affects how efficiently an organization operates but ultimately how people feel about their work.
Overstaffing can drain company resources, while understaffing can overburden employees, increase the likelihood of injury, decrease customer satisfaction, and damage an organization’s reputation—both internally and externally. Under-scheduled employees can find themselves with too little to do, while overscheduled employees are more prone to stress, burnout, and fatigue.
As the events of the past year have highlighted, personal responsibilities such as childcare and eldercare, one’s health, and individual financial needs can affect employees’ willingness and ability to do their jobs.
Flexibility, especially at scale, is key. Sadly, 40% of employees polled in a recent survey sponsored by WorkForce Software said there’s a lack of adaptability and flexibility in their work schedules.
Life is tough in the best of times. By offering more agency over deskless workers’ schedules—whether that’s through accessible, easily modifiable calendars, or standardized procedures and processes for shift swapping and initiating time-off requests—employers can foster a better employee experience and be aware of staffing problems before they happen.
Open the Lines of Communication
For deskless workers, staying up to date on company announcements, receiving directives, and connecting with superiors can be difficult. Similarly, it can be hard for organizations to get a sense of how their employees are doing and feel about their work, especially when they’re far away from HQ, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and lower productivity.
Centralizing communications, the way specialty discount retailer Five Below did with WorkForce Experience, allows employees to receive communications and chat, connect, and collaborate with co-workers or superiors in real time—right on the sales floor, in the backroom, at the job site, or in the field.
With processes and priorities continuously evolving, using tools to close the loop on communications, provide need-to-know information and advice, and capture employee sentiment—whether through surveys or one-to-one interactions—can give managers a better indication of how employees are doing on the job, reduce burnout, mitigate fatigue, and help them feel more engaged and supported in the moments that matter.
Give Employees the Necessary Tools to Do Their Jobs
Just like any organization, every employee’s needs are different, but the ability to do their job successfully is often hindered by manual, outdated, or one-size-fits-all solutions.
According to McKinsey & Company, recent events have accelerated the digitization of internal operations by three to five years. It’s important to remember that improving the work experience doesn’t just involve changes to work and managerial philosophies, but the digitized processes and tools provided by an organization as well.
Historically, deskless workers are often neglected when it comes to the software, services, and solutions they use to do their jobs.
But organizations are realizing the benefits of investing in technology for deskless workers and see it as a selling point in the war on talent as the world’s economies reopen, and 78% of deskless workers say that the technology provided by an employer ultimately influences whether they join a company.
Meet WorkForce Experience
Now, organizations can create powerful employee experiences and stay in touch with staff, no matter where they are in the world or where they work. WorkForce Experience is the only workforce management solution that seamlessly connects employees and employers through dedicated channels for communication and collaboration, provides easy access to training and documents, and helps assess employee sentiment in the moment.
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