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Best practices for successful collaboration

Frontline employees are often the biggest part of a company’s workforce but have historically lacked access to technologies that enable other types of employees to communicate effectively, leading to major communication gaps. Overcome these gaps by maintaining an understanding of your workplace’s everyday reality and providing digital tools that make frontline workers’ lives easier.

The frontline workforce is the heart and soul of any business. Despite this, 63% of frontline workers say they never receive messages from leaders, and 32% admit that they don’t feel heard when attempting to communicate workplace issues. Additionally, 69% of frontline managers say leadership is not communicating effectively with them either.

To understand this disconnect, we will explore how the frontline workforce is still largely neglected and left out of communication strategies, including channels that are available to other workers. We will also look at why successful communication with frontline workers is essential, how technology plays a role, common internal communication strategy mistakes, and actionable steps to improve frontline employee communication and address the needs of frontline workers.

Frontline Employee Communication Issues Are Nothing New
Historically, frontline workers have lacked access to technologies that enable other types of employees to communicate effectively. This disconnect — which results in a complex communication gap between frontline employees and leadership — often stems from the demands of the workplace.

Adopting new communication tools and technologies is a good start, but the use of these requires continuous investment. Unfortunately, this may not be feasible, especially in environments that are fast-paced, physically demanding, and difficult to plan around shifts, such as in frontline conditions.

Other factors that widen the gap include budget constraints and normal office technologies, like communication devices and computers, that are not practical assets in the field. Frontline workers often need to stay on the move or be physically involved in their work, meaning that they need something smaller and more mobile.

How Mobile Technology Is Changing the Landscape
As mobile technology advances, many companies are now seeing success by including text messaging and other technologies, such as cellphones, mobile apps, and employee-specific platforms, in their frontline internal communication strategies.

When such tools are accessible and user-friendly, they connect frontline workers with all the necessary teams and leadership across the organization. This gives them direct access to important information, resources, and assistance. In turn, this inclusion and support boost morale, enhancing workers’ contributions to the growth of the company.

Mobile options are becoming more affordable, which allows companies to provide more workers with phones and other devices like tablets. This can bridge the communication gap, as text messaging and mobile apps give frontline employees instant and real-time information. This allows for quicker dissemination of messages, instructions, important notices, and worker feedback.

Mobile technology also fosters more personalized connections between the frontline workforce and leadership. It helps workers feel more included in company matters and important decisions. This leads to fewer mistakes and delays and better employee engagement. According to one survey, 62% of employees say access to technology is a highly motivating factor in their performance at work.

There are more benefits that support mobile devices as excellent tools for frontline communication, including better collaboration between all parties across a project or the organization. Employees can also stay updated on important company announcements and news, receive instant access to essential job-related materials, better connect with co-workers, and create a more positive workplace culture.

The Importance of Including Frontline Workers in Communication Strategies
An interesting statistic shows why internal communication is so important, especially when it comes to frontline workforces: Nearly 90% of executives believe that success hinges on data-driven decisions made by frontline workers. Despite this, only 7% of organizations equip their frontline teams with all the technology and resources they need to make the right decisions.

Including frontline workers in communication strategies is an essential part of a company’s growth. For example, in a retail context, these workers might interact with the general public, meaning they play a pivotal part in how well a business’s products and services sell and how customers perceive the brand.

When frontline workers are well-informed, it not only helps employees excel at their jobs, but it also makes them want to do their best. Why? When they feel included and heard by management, it fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty to the company. This creates a positive culture where workers align with the company’s mission and vision and put their best foot forward.

In a nutshell, frontline employees are often the biggest part of a company’s workforce. When they make mistakes or feel unhappy, the consequences are felt throughout the organization. On the other hand, when they thrive, everyone benefits.

The Consequences of Failing to Address Communication Issues With Frontline Employees
When leadership teams neglect to remedy communication problems with frontline workers, they often teeter on a slippery slope that leads to even more problems. For instance, when workers are constantly kept in the dark about what’s going on, this lack of information not only increases distrust in leadership, but also has the potential of spreading rumors and misinformation.

When workers feel unheard and undervalued, morale takes a nosedive. This usually makes employees feel disconnected from the company, and then employee retention, productivity, and quality of work start to suffer. Overall, any unresolved frontline communication concerns have the power to hamper an organization’s growth and performance.

Why So Many Communication Strategies Still Fail Frontline Workers
Access to suitable communication tools remains a problem for many frontline employees. This unfortunate situation is caused by a multitude of factors.

Very often, workers are given generic communication tools that do not suit their needs, leading to disinterest in using the tools. Another hurdle is a lack of feedback mechanisms, which can prevent worker concerns and insights from reaching leadership, let alone encourage change. Regrettably, some companies simply do not prioritize frontline communication channels due to a lack of funds or interest in their employees.

How to Improve Internal Communication With Frontline Workers
There are several steps leaders can take to create effective communication strategies that will allow their frontline workers and companies to flourish. Here are some internal communication best practices:

· Create a single platform with a user-friendly interface to give employees all the information and communication channels they need in one place.

· Forgo templates for personalized messages to address specific challenges and recognize frontline workers’ triumphs; genuine messages show workers they are valued.

· Allow employees to use a simple channel to provide feedback, concerns, and suggestions to foster a sense of inclusion and participation.

· Encourage leaders to nourish direct connections with frontline workers by actively communicating with them.

· Provide ongoing technology training and support for frontline teams.

Frontline communication strategies fall flat when leadership experiences a disconnect with the workforce. This gap, while still a prevalent problem, can be conquered by following the above steps and making a commitment to stay involved with frontline workers.

By maintaining an in-depth understanding of the everyday reality in the workplace and providing frontline workers with digital tools that make their lives easier, everybody can look forward to a brighter future.

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