Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

To reach non-desk employees, walk through a day in their shoes

Do you think your frontline, manufacturing or retail employees don’t notice that you’re not talking to them? They do, according to Tribe’s research with non-desk employees of large companies nationwide.

Even worse, they interpret a lack of internal communications as a lack of respect. When non-desk workers don’t hear from their company leadership, they assume it’s because their day-to-day contributions to the company’s success are simply not valued at the top.

Of course, it’s not easy to reach all those employees who aren’t sitting in front of computers all day. But that’s not a great excuse not to try. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

At Tribe, we recommend looking for touch points that are unique to your employee population. It helps to go out to the plant or the store or the hotel. Walk in the employees’ shoes, go through the paces of their days. Where do they enter the building when they come to work? Where do they eat lunch? Where do they park? Are they driving a truck, operating machinery, loading boxes or standing on a retail floor? We look for touch points that might be less obvious than a poster in the break room.

Over the years, we’ve come up with some pretty weird touch points to reach non-desk employees. Can you pre-load the trucks the night before with a rearview mirror hangtag? Can you put signage inside the van they ride to work from the off-site parking lot? Can you use floor decals? Window clings on restroom mirrors? Fortune cookies?

You need to understand the physical environment to find those untapped touch points. The trick is to get out from behind your desk and go see what it’s like out there. If you’ve already done that and have come up with some really smart touch points, we’d love to hear about it.

Looking for new ways to reach your non-desk audience? Tribe can help.

Mobile vs desktop communication: What do your employees need more and which is most effective?

When it comes to non-desk workers, generally mobile is the best way to reach those employees on the frontline, the manufacturing line or in the field employees. 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, for a hospital 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.

But how do we even know either of these will work? It depends on the organization. Mobile might be a better choice for Gen Y employees, since they use mobile more for their personal communication than they do a computer. But, if your organization’s employees are less mobile savvy, desktop could be the way to go.

In Tribe’s recent work with a large retail client, we found that roughly 95% of their store employees owned smartphones. Compare that with the statistic for adults in the US overall (over 50%). So we decided to jump on that band wagon 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!