Mobile vs Desktop Communication: What Do Your Employees Need More and Which is Most Effective?

When it comes to non-desk workers, mobile is generally the best way to reach those employees on the frontline, the manufacturing line or employees in the field. Although, mobile can often seem like a scary thought to some companies so desktop could be the key. The truth is it just depends on your organization. It could be that the answer is both.

For example, if a hospital was trying to communicate with its nurses, the intranet might be the way to go.  (Although nurses aren’t sitting in front of computers all day, they generally do have access to a desktop while they’re at work.)

On the other hand, say an organization has delivery drivers that never encounter a computer during the day but they do have smartphones or at least a cell phone.  Companies like The Home Depot have created opt-in texting programs to give those employees wanting to stay in the loop an opportunity to do so.

In Tribe’s recent work with a large retail client, we found that roughly 95% of their store employees owned smartphones. In addition to that, roughly 70% of people in the US own a smart phone. So we decided to jump on that bandwagon and made suggestions such as linking their intranet to employees’ mobile devices.

Don’t count desktop out just yet, though. Desktop is also usually the most viable form of communication for many organizations. Mobile communications can be costly, so simply extending who has access to existing computers can cut cost in a big way. Desktop communications give you an opportunity to work with what you’ve got.

As stated above, the answer could be that you need a mix of both of these outlets to optimize your engagement. Some employees in certain departments often need to be reached differently than those in other departments. So it could be you implement desktop communications for your workers on the floor and opt-in mobile communications for your remote employees.

At Tribe we know each organization is different. Do you need help finding out how to effectively engage your employees? If so, we’d love to help!

The Power of Respect to Boost Employee Productivity

Does productivity increase when employees feel respected? An unintentional finding in the classic Hawthorne experiments points to yes. In the late 1920s/early 1930s, engineers at Western Electric tested their theory that better lighting would improve productivity of factory workers. To do so, they walled off part of the factory floor and kept working conditions the same there, except for stronger illumination.

Or so they thought. In his 1964 business classic “Managerial Breakthrough,” J.M. Juran describes the differences in the regular factory floor and the experimental space: “In the big room, the employees were forbidden to talk to each other — conversation was regarded as a drag on productivity; in the ‘laboratory’ they could talk to their heart’s content, and did. In the big room, they were subjected to a long catalogue of petty disciplines; not so in the ‘laboratory.’ In the big room, they were nobody. . . but in the ‘laboratory’ these nameless operators suddenly acquired status; engineers and managers addressed them by name, asked them how Jimmy’s cold was getting on, explained the project, and otherwise treated them as members of the team. The engineers never dreamed that these ‘little’ things might have more effect on productivity than something as important (to an engineer) as lighting.”

In fact, productivity in the ‘laboratory’ far outstripped that of the control group on the regular factory floor. When the lighting was reduced to its previous level, those productivity numbers remained impressively high.

The behavioral scientists involved noted that a major difference between the control subjects and the factory workers in the experimental space was a sense of respect. The sorts of liberties and trust that engineers took for granted represented a major step up for the work experience of those working on the shop floor.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that when you treat employees like adults, they act like adults. That sense of respect creates engaged and productive employees.



Helping Employees Adapt to Change

Handling change at your company can be tough. Whether the change is big or small, though, employees deserve to be aware and informed. Communication is key here, and good communication can be the difference between a smooth transition and a chaotic leap.

Through our research and client work, we’ve found that there are several tried and true tactics to help employees during change. Here are six Best Practices from the Tribe vault that can help you calm the masses:

1) Respect for employees

The most effective change communications are built on a foundation of respect for the individual. Think about the Golden Rule of Change: If you were impacted by this, how would you want to be treated?

2) Knowledge is power

Foreshadow the change as early as possible. You may want to wait until you know every detail before you communicate, but in our experience employees prefer to know earlier, even if there are gaps in the information. Which is why…

3) It’s OK to not have all the answers

Employees can accept the fact that you can’t tell them now. What causes more stress is the sneaking suspicion that something is afoot and management isn’t telling them about it. We advice clients that it’s perfectly fine to say, “I don’t know yet, but I’ll tell you when I do” or “I can’t share that information, but I can tell you such and such.”

4) Acknowledge the Two Big Fears

In the workplace, stress usually comes from two places: “Will the change make my job more difficult?” and “Will I lose my job?”. We encourage our clients to open dialogue about both.

5) Recognize individual differences

Each employee is unique, and they won’t have the same psychological or emotional reactions. Employees also process information differently. It’s helpful to offer communications in a wide range of channels from brochures to emails to face-to-face interactions.

6) Trust trumps all 

Your most valuable asset in any change is the trust your employees already have in company management. If your company has built a strong equity of trust in leadership, your job as a change manager is that much easier.