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CELEBRATING LOW & UNSKILLED WORKFORCE – TOOLS OF THE TRADE – ARTICLE FROM ISSUE 235 – MAY 2024

During the pandemic, digital tools for knowledge workers surged, leaving frontline workers with outdated manual processes. However, frontline workers deserve more than just being treated as numbers. Providing them with a digital identity can build connections and improve their work experience. Imagine warehouse workers using modern scanning apps to access data and contribute to the company’s strategy. This article explores how personalized digital tools can bridge the gap between office and frontline environments, fostering innovation, collaboration, and a united workforce. Discover how to transform your organization by breaking down silos and enhancing the employee experience.

Knowledge workers have long enjoyed a veritable arsenal of digital tools and when the pandemic struck, that expanded, as the remote working revolution rushed in. Immediately, there was a mad scramble to support knowledge workers with even more digital tools, while low and unskilled workers continued running frontlines manually.

Frontline workers are more than the output of their work and while there are often constraints, it doesn’t mean they should be treated as a number in your company’s employee experiences. A good way to start is by providing each worker with a digital identity in your system. T hink of it as a LinkedIn or Facebook profile that lets people build a picture of who they are and what drives them. In a nutshell, it’s about building connections and turning workers into colleagues, which goes both ways. We know that work is work, we’re provided with tasks and if we can solve them faster or better using specific tools that offer insights and context, we want to. It doesn’t matter if we’re in an office or a warehouse, we want to know the purpose of our actions, we need insights and purpose-made tools – physical and digital – and a personalised employee experience, regardless of where and how we work. Take warehouse workers scanning hundreds of items daily, using old-school scanners – it’s slow, tedious, error-prone – and they don’t have access to the data or how it fits into the company’s strategy, it’s siloed. They say there’s an app for everything and several scanning apps and overlays can now multi-scan and offer essential, tangible information, providing the foundation for frontline workers to discover patterns and areas ripe for improvement that knowledge workers don’t see from afar. T hat is but one of many ways frontline workers are often isolated from knowledge and the rest of the company. Yet how can we still expect to drive innovation and improvements from the ground up, when we’re isolated from each other and each other’s processes and all you see is the tip of the iceberg?

Take a look at your organisation, when you zoom out, what do you see? T he chances are you see knowledge and communication silos – even between knowledge workers – let alone between the office and the frontline. You may also see borders between physical HQ and frontlines, between employees and leadership. This is what lies at the heart of the disconnect, barriers. So how can we expect frontline workers to offer value and grow when we restrict knowledge, collaboration and communication? How can we call it ‘business as usual’, when our society has become digital and our organisational structures have drastically changed? The good news is that there are the tools to tear the silos down and it starts by addressing the tech equity gap, in ways that improve the employee experience and how we communicate and collaborate. Why not replace notice boards with purpose-built employee apps and digital platforms that offer insights, job openings and networking opportunities throughout the business? For example, use it to offer fun, bite-sized videos and audio content that provide insights about the business. Create social media-style platforms that let people network through interests, skills and entertainment. Teach, learn and share – instead of a tool to address staff – have a platform for communication and collaboration. It can become the foundation for upskilling low and unskilled workers and facilitates learning, innovation and networking. Most importantly, it becomes a way to fulfil potential and connect employees to the rest of the business body. As a result, the silos will start opening up, the barriers will break and a business becomes a united company, as one team. That is without question, the best support that any employer can offer their frontline workers.

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