[INFOGRAPHIC] The state of deskless employee communication

[INFOGRAPHIC] The state of deskless employee communication

The insights around deskless employee communication that we surfaced in our recently-released Deskless Report have a clear through-line. Deskless workers want more. When we polled 865 deskless workers, 53% of workers said they’re receiving company updates, but 40% said they want more.  36% of workers said they’re receiving updates on products and services, but 32% want more. The same is true of company vision and mandate – while 82% of workers said they have a clear sense of their company’s vision, 63% still want to know more.

When it comes to deskless employee communication, you can’t overshare. Workers are starving for effective, real-time, accessible information. Emphasis on the word effective.

But here’s where we come to one of the many disconnects between deskless workers and leaders that The Deskless Report uncovered. While 86% of leaders feel they’re sending out meaningful, quality communications, workers disagree. In fact, 59% of workers said the communications they receive are somewhat to not-at all useful, which might explain why 40% of workers said they only read the communications sent to them sometimes – or not at all.

For more insights, check out our infographic below! 👇👇👇

And head to our recently-released Deskless Report for a full look at the state of the deskless workforce.

 

Deskless Employee Communication Infographic | Nudge

 

Remember: head to The Deskless Report for much more!

 

5 reasons your frontline needs pre-shift team huddles

5 reasons your frontline needs pre-shift team huddles

Looking to strengthen your team connection? Help communication flow? Keep customer experience top of mind? The answer is simple: pre-shift team huddles.

From foodservice to retail, so many industries can benefit from implementing this practice into their day-to-day workflows. After all, they’ve been proven time and time again to be a habit of high-performing teams. Morning huddles can help your team stay well-informed about your organization’s goings-on and keep focused. 

Below you’ll find a quick explainer on team huddles – plus five reasons pre-shift huddles are a must for any frontline organization: 

What is a team huddle? 

Also known as pre-shift meetings or lineups, team huddles are a chance for teams to quickly connect. The manager on duty can go through recent updates, review goals or hurdles, and engage staff for their upcoming shift. It should rarely last longer than five minutes.

Team huddles are more than just a staff meeting. They’re a place for consistent, regular discussion in which employees at all levels communicate, share and address key performance indicators and areas of improvement. The purpose is to provide an open channel where your team members can safely share any questions or concerns they may have.

This particularly valuable in uncertain times (we see you, global pandemic) or periods of rapid change at an organization, such as during an expansion. But even during “normal” times, every organization can benefit from these bite-sized meetings, every day. 

Team huddles boost team-building and employee engagement

Even if they’re small, teams can become siloed very quickly. The simplest explanation? People aren’t talking to one another. An obvious benefit of a regular touchpoint in the form of a morning huddle can be simple open communication. This leads to a place where employees grow to trust one another. At pre-shift team huddles, they can give and receive help as they need and can be empowered to work together, rather than separately. 

Pre-shift team huddles are an especially excellent mechanism for team-building between front of house and back of house staff in the restaurant and hospitality industries. And that time dedicated to building relationships between various staff functions can extend to your brand and customer experience. 

There’s also an employee advocacy play here, too. Employees who feel confident that they have the basics to reach their full potential (things like a safe workplace, fair pay, and the tools to do the job) can become staunch advocates of the brand and company they work for. 

Ultimately, team huddles lead to engaged, empowered employees ready to collaborate and contribute – and that high employee engagement leads to better retention, CX, sales, and myriad other benefits

Team huddles allow you to get proactive vs. reactive on employee feedback

We all know that better team communication goes a long way. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of managers are ill-equipped to have tough, necessary conversations. Team huddles can be instrumental in giving teams the space to identify and highlight the issues that require the attention of other levels of the organization.

It’s also the perfect place to foster a sense of safety, share best practices, and allow upward feedback. Say, for example, that a team member mentions a policy they believe needs to be changed. If their colleagues also share the same issue, managers can easily take that feedback and facilitate the necessary changes.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2020, it’s crucial that employers tap into and act upon employee feedback. By doing this, you are not only engaging your employees but involving them in decision-making. When given the space to share, employees can also help increase your organization’s competitive edge. Retail fashion giant Zara, for example, relies on its frontline staff to share feedback and insights around customer requests, trends and new style ideas by noticing what customers wear or are looking for as they shop. 

When employees believe they are heard and can contribute upward feedback, they can bring that happiness and ease to their work. You may see it shine through in their effectiveness and their interactions with customers and peers. 

Team huddles increase efficiency and consistency in task execution

When employees don’t have a good line of sight into what everyone is working on, there is a danger of duplicating tasks. This is inefficient – and can be significantly negative for your brand if it involves your customers. Pre-shift team huddles allow you to quickly and efficiently create systems that help your business flow better. Taking the time each day, even for five minutes, to go over priorities and goals drives consistency and task execution and can increase team cohesion and efficacy.

Team huddles are an opportunity to seamlessly build new behaviours that push your team to excel. Cascading announcements and protocol changes from head office down through the huddles ensures that every employee understands standard procedures and processes in a deeper way. This is especially true if you pair those huddle announcements with additional information in a digital communication platform that they can refer back to when needed. 

Team huddles also give leaders a chance to act and mobilize their teams to make adjustments that improve customers and employee experience. By quickly sharing bottlenecks or identifying blockers with the team gets more employees focused on a problem so that it can be solved in real-time. 

Team huddles keep you aligned on company goals

Goals and KPIs are the best way to tell you if you’re on target, and let you course-correct to get back on track. And your daily pre-shift huddle is an ideal place for reviewing metric updates, short-term priorities and overall company goals. 

Giving your team members a quick face-to-face before jumping into work keeps everyone aligned and on task. According to Inc., team huddles “keep companies focused on the same strategic goals, ensure timely answers solutions to important questions, and strengthen team accountability because everyone knows what everyone else is up to.” 

In a frontline organization, managers can use huddles to align their teams on priorities and drive performance in a fun way by tying your employees’ successes back to the company’s values and goals. Employers can even use gamification as an effective strategy for engaging deskless employees. You can now set up friendly competitions through a communication app (guess which one is our favourite?), track milestones, and reward deskless employees for their hard work. After all, providing employees with achievable goals and incentives has been closely linked to improving your bottom line and driving productivity. 

Team huddles give each team member a voice

Helping your employees feel valued is paramount, and you can drive that sense of value by ensuring they feel seen and heard. Our research found that 78% of frontline leaders say their company has channels in place for collecting feedback. However…only 24% of frontline workers say their company asks them for feedback often. Does that math seem off to you?

It can be hard for organizations and managers to find ways to give each and every team member a voice – especially in an organization of hundreds of employees. That’s where pre-shift team huddles come in. 

Huddles can be the optimal time to share news, recognize employees, and highlight wins. A win could be anything: someone going several consecutive days (or months) without an accident, a team achieving a sales target, or even an employee’s personal win. That recognition of good work can go a long way toward giving team members – even in large organizations – a voice. 

A key piece of this is ensuring it’s your employees speaking up – not just your managers recognizing good work. Finding engaging ways to allow your employees to share updates or announce changes themselves during the huddle can be helpful. Giving them space to share and celebrate, professionally and personally, can make all the difference. For example, employees at many Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations vote on who delivered the best service during the past week, helping increase connection and add a spirit of friendly competition to their workdays. 

Teaching your team good client experience and company culture doesn’t end at the onboarding stage. Having a pre-shift huddle can help your managers balance functional issues and company purpose effortlessly. What may seem like a small act for your team could make a world of difference for your company and brand. For more on optimizing pre-shift team huddles, check out our recent post!

5 reasons the traditional communication cascade is costing your deskless organization

5 reasons the traditional communication cascade is costing your deskless organization

Quick: how are you sharing information with your frontline managers? How are you collecting insights from them back to head office? 

Here’s our guess on how things go: 

  • Head office sends an email with information on a new product launch to senior leadership. 
  • Senior leadership emails the intel to their middle managers. 
  • Middle management, in turn, emails the info to their floor managers. 
  • Your floor managers then explain it to their shift leads and staff at a pre-shift team huddle or (gasp!) by printing out the email and pinning it to the bulletin board. 
  • Your frontline shares their ideas and feedback to head office through annual surveys.

This is what’s known as the “traditional communication cascade” and – spoiler alert! – it doesn’t work. In fact, it’s probably costing your frontline organization money. 

And what’s the solution? Open two-way communication that runs between head office and your frontline. With a digital communication platform (like Nudge!) head office can send information right to their workers’ phones, and leverage robust analytics to see exactly what’s resonating – and what’s falling flat. 

Our recently-commissioned Total Economic Impact™ Study, conducted by Forrester Consulting, uncovered some staggering insights on the traditional communication cascade – and how it might be costing you, big time. For the study, Forrester Consulting interviewed four Nudge customers in the retail and foodservice industries to understand the costs and benefits associated with the investment. The study created a “composite” company, and then explored the ways that shifting from a traditional communication cascade to a digital communication platform saved them time, money, and energy. 

Here are 5 reasons the traditional communication cascade is costing your deskless organization:

1. It turns floor managers into bottlenecks

In a deskbound organization, it might make sense for a team manager to be the one sharing key information with their team. However, in deskless organizations, where frontline workers aren’t all working at the same time, and often don’t use any kind of communication tool to unite the team, the responsibility of floor managers to disseminate information to their staff becomes far more challenging. 

For one thing, this leads to “Championing fatigue” where it’s constantly on floor managers to drive awareness and engagement around key initiatives and company announcements. 

But even more worrying, it’s a major time investment collecting, organizing, and relaying information from head office. Whether they’re relying on one-off conversations, pre-shift huddles, or sharing information through a binder or bulletin board, it takes time and energy.  

“Managers were overwhelmed with communication from HQ. Instead of spending time on the floor playing a leadership role, managers spent a significant amount of time fielding communications from HQ,” explains the Total Economic Impact™ Study, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Nudge.  

And this turns managers into bottlenecks. Particularly now as we continue to navigate the post-pandemic new normal, managers are wearing many hats. They’re managing safety protocols, mentoring staff, driving CX or guest experience, focusing on operational efficiency and execution. That leaves little time for disseminating announcements from head office, especially in a consistent and measurable way. 

In the study, Forrester Consulting found that when its “composite” company was using the traditional communication cascade, each store manager spent 1.5 hours per day reviewing and organizing information and then communicating key concepts to frontline workers.

“After the investment in Nudge, the composite reduces the length of pre-shift meetings and manager information ingestion, decreasing the overall number of hours spent on communication by managers by 50%, 55%, and 60% in Years 1, 2, and 3, respectively,” explains the study. 

2. Communications get “filtered and reinterpreted”

Another major challenge of the traditional communication cascade (or the “manager waterfall” as the Total Economic Impact™ Study calls it) is the broken telephone effect. 

“Communication through a manager waterfall relied on the manager’s ability to ingest the content and relay it to the deskless workers. It was not uncommon for messages to get lost in translation. Messages that were successfully relayed to a deskless worker had been filtered and reinterpreted, diluting the meaning of the communication,” explains the study. 

Why is this an issue? It reduces operational consistency, which every deskless organization desperately needs right now. Operational consistency is the key to memorable CX, efficient execution, and successful campaigns. 

Let’s say you’re a retailer launching a new sportswear line. Head office develops key information about the promo, and shares it down the communication cascade. But as you get further down the cascade, that broken telephone kicks in. Details of the promotion get interpreted or summarized. Floor managers across the country each put their own spin on the information. Key points are shared verbally so key points get missed or changed. Maybe even a few factual errors creep in. So now it’s launch day, and customers are coming in-store, only to get an inconsistent, confusing, frustrating CX. And that has a major impact on the overall success of the promo. 

3. Pre-shift meetings run too long

We love pre-shift team huddles, but those quick check-ins aren’t for sharing all the information coming from head office. Floor managers should be using these huddles to reiterate daily task execution, share quick updates to menus or inventory, and go over general housekeeping. It’s not the right time to introduce a major organizational change, or announce the organization’s plan for Black Friday. 

According to the TEI study, organizations that shifted over to using Nudge were able to reduce the length of their pre-shift meetings by 50% or more – and decrease the frequency of them altogether. That’s more time on the floor for staff – and managers. 

4. It drives employee turnover

We all know that turnover costs you. According to Forrester Consulting, the average turnover cost per associate is upwards of $1,200. And while there are many things that drive voluntary turnover at a deskless organization, one of the big ones is workers not having enough access to the tools and information they need to do their job – and do it well. 

After all, workers are motivated by a sense of purpose at their work. They want to feel like they’re contributing to something important. And without proper communication – or any contact with head office – it’s very difficult for them to feel that sense of purpose. 

“The know-how to do a job well is a key factor to job satisfaction and success for frontline workers,” explains the Total Economic Impact™ Study. 

In fact, it found that deskless workers using Nudge have a 10% higher retention rate. That’s the power of effective communication. 

5. It impacts CX

Here’s where that two-way communication comes into play. In the traditional communication cascade, upward feedback is being gathered annually – if that. But if you’re only inviting feedback from your staff once a year, employee experience is taking a hit. 

“Employee satisfaction is a precursor to creating a great customer experience,” explains the study, which found that using Nudge to allow workers to share best practices, identify problems, and receive recognition on a daily basis had a huge impact on employee engagement – and, in turn, customer experience. 

And CX has a huge impact on revenue. “A related metric is Forrester’s own Customer Experience Index (CX IndexTM ) score, which highlights how improvements to CX have a measurable business impact,” explains the study. “For the retail composite organization, a single-point increase to the CX Index score is worth $4.69 incremental revenue per customer. If the composite organization is assumed to have 2 million customers, the additional revenue would be nearly $9.4 million.”

The traditional communication cascade is inefficient for deskless organizations – but the impacts go far deeper. It can increase turnover, hurt CX, cause burnout in your floor managers…the list goes on. Luckly, there’s another option. To learn more about how digital communication tools are the solution, check out our recent on-demand webinar on the ROI of digital frontline communication!

Q&A: The future of frontline technology

Q&A: The future of frontline technology

We’re pretty excited about 2022. It’s been a roller coaster couple of years, but the future of technology – and how it will impact frontline workforces – has never looked brighter. And to learn more, we sat down with Andrew Au!

Hailed by Forbes as a “digital transformation expert,” Andrew Au is a renowned global thought leader on digital transformation and culture change. He’s worked with such companies as FedEx, 3M, Microsoft, and countless others to navigate the “now” and prepare for what’s coming next. 

So, naturally, we’re thrilled to hear what he thinks about the future of frontline technology! We sat down with Au to talk about how technology can build better human experiences, how technology will impact frontline organizations, and much more. 

You call yourself a global thought leader but I’ve also heard the word “futurist” thrown around. Can you tell me more about what you do? 

Andrew Au: Futurist is a word that people tend to associate me with. But I don’t identify as a futurist. Because I think that predicting the future is truly impossible. I would say I am just very, very curious about the intersection of technology and people. I think that’s ultimately what drives this whole thing. 

My consultancy, Intercept Group, is divided really into two main parts. We’ve got a marketing services arm, and then we’ve got a technology consulting arm of the business. And so marketing was always the original source for this whole venture. It was always involved with big tech: Microsoft, SAP, Intuit. And so as we really immersed ourselves in that world, a lot of the things that we worked on were actually consumption.

So getting customers to consume more Cloud services, for example. And so for us to do that well, we had to really understand the business value of all of these technology services, and then why is it that people aren’t using them? Like what is actually holding people back? And so that’s what’s really spawned this whole tech consulting arm where companies come to us and say, “Hey, what are the right platforms that we need to solve these business problems?”

It sounds like a lot of what you’re doing is helping organizations see the forest for the trees. You’re taking a much bigger look at the picture than they can see themselves. 

Exactly. We are looking at the outcome that we’re trying to drive. Take artificial intelligence. You don’t need artificial intelligence, you need to solve this outcome. So we help leaders stop chasing the shiny object of “We just need this tech” to focus on “What will you actually do with the tech? What problems are you trying to solve?”

And then we’re also just really plugged into the tech world. We see and work with some of the very disruptive scale-ups in this space. So we’ve got a sense of where the gaps are, and where tech is really heading. And so that’s another vantage point a lot of companies don’t have. Like they see their organization, and they think that whatever happens in their organization is the norm. But we get to see behind the scenes at everything from enterprise, government, public sector, education, retail, financial services, natural resources, professional services… We’ve got a much broader view of the topic.

A big part of your core message is that technology can build better human experiences. Can you speak to that?

So the way I see it, technology allows us to do things that were once impossible. So if you think about artificial light as a technology, you go back to the 1800s. Artificial light was a very powerful technology. It allowed us to turn night into day, and build structures where we can control daylight, and extend our workday. And it would cost us 400 times back then what it costs us today to use the same amount of light. 

And if you think about that for a second, the reason why artificial light spread so quickly is that it was very powerful, but it became very cheap. And so I think that is really the path for technology. Something powerful becomes very cheap, and it becomes democratized. And it allows us to do things that we couldn’t have done before. So if you think about all of the things that we have, all of the inventions that we’ve seen. If the cost of artificial light didn’t come crashing down we wouldn’t have any of that.

And so let’s go back to artificial intelligence, which is to me the artificial light of the 21st Century. It is very powerful. It gives us this predictive element. It doesn’t give us intelligence, it gives us prediction, which is an element of intelligence. But it allows us to make better decisions. So that’s an example of how technology creates better experiences.

Interesting. What’s another technology you’re excited about? 

Mixed reality. I started talking about MR five or six years ago, and it was this concept that we could bring holograms into our physical world. So it could make remote work feel much more immersive. And that allows us to do things that we just couldn’t do before. It’s different from virtual reality – with VR, you put on this headset and then your world goes away. It’s an image that takes over. What mixed reality does is the holographic content gets augmented onto your vision. So you see holograms, but in the context of your physical space. 

For example, there’s a company in Canada that operates robotic arms on satellites in space. They are actually using mixed reality technology to train astronauts in Houston on how to operate this robotic arm. So from two locations, I could bring you into the same room that I’m in now, and we could be looking at the same holographic image. And I could pull apart that robotic arm, and I could show you how to operate it, and then give you control over it.

Automotive companies are using these same mixed reality headsets at dealerships in the US now. Mercedes-Benz techs at the dealerships can work with specialized technicians halfway around the world. And they can actually guide them on how to fix a customer problem. So if you think about the frontline and customer experience at dealerships, you want to be able to solve that problem, and then you know be able to send that customer on their way. You don’t want them to have to come back again for the same problem. And MR completely changes what’s possible. So that’s what I mean by technology creating better experiences that are human-centric.

How else will technology impact frontline organizations, and the workers within them? 

With frontline industries, I think a lot of leaders miss the point that it’s a rich source of insights. It is a rich outlook for innovation and testing. It is the express lane to driving better customer engagement. I think we forget that sometimes. 

So, when I think about technology applied specifically to the frontline, I think technology is going to allow us to discover insights faster. It’s going to allow frontline organizations to be able to fix that feedback loop to be able to share insights, and what is wrong, and what’s going right.

I also don’t think we leverage our frontline enough as brand and company advocates. And I think we can empower them to do that with the right technology – and I think certainly Nudge will agree with this. But how do you create a better sense of community, and ignite that pride? How do you connect everyone to do that?

And one last one is that we’re all looking for customer stories. The frontline is where you go to get that. Because they are the closest to your customers. They’re the first touch. So you need to be going to them. They will be able to identify authentic stories that you would want to tell as a brand to reinforce your values. 

I’m seeing a through-line here around technology for the frontline, and change – being able to make decisions faster and leverage the frontline to help with that . 

Change is happening just so damn fast. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once said, “The pace of change has never been this fast; but it will never be this slow again.” 

Change is hard, but it is going to get harder. Because it is getting faster. And so if you are not empowering your frontline you will lose. I think the future of innovation truly will be powered by the frontline. By sheer nature of agility, and speed that’s needed I think to survive, and to succeed. It comes from the frontline. And I think we miss that. 

It’s almost like technology helps even the biggest companies move and change like small businesses – and have that kind of relationship with their workforce, as well. 

Big business is really working very hard to be small business. Because we hear things like agile – “We’re going to be agile now.” Well, what does that mean? It means we want to get stuff done. And there is only one mode for small business: get stuff done mode. So bigger companies are trying to recreate more flatter structures, and multidisciplinary teams.

And I think the challenge that big companies have is that they’re like big cruise ships. They are very hard to turn, and there are a lot of silos. There are in many cases lots of infighting that happens that really just gets in the way of innovation.

So how can big companies use technology to move quickly? 

I think where companies struggle is on the human side of change management. Because they assume for some reason that if they just get a tool, that it’s going to solve all their problems. When in fact 91% of digital transformations are failing. And it’s because of the human factors. It’s not because of tech integrations. It’s because they didn’t tell their people why they’re changing. They didn’t offer the right skills and support for their end users. 

We’re missing these human factors. We just think that they’re going to work themselves out. Which they’re not. It takes effort. And I think the other problem that I often see is that big companies go into a technology procurement decision with the wrong intention. Because often it’s like OK, “Well how do we just reduce labor costs?” They see everything as this cost-saving technology. When really it’s not about that. It’s about empowering your people to do amazing things that create value. It’s not about being able to cut your workforce by 20% and save money. That’s not innovation. 

One example comes to mind. Back in May this pharma company was doing clinical trials for a COVID 19 vaccine. Well in the healthcare space, to actually do these clinical trials is very, very complicated. It takes weeks for you to find the right patient, and get the right paperwork. It involves antibodies drawn from blood of recovered patients. It’s a very complex process. So this company invested in a robotic process automation solution and trained it to copy manual tasks like opening up files, copying and pasting it into forms, et cetera. And they ended up saving 4.6 million office hours, which was 2,000 full-time people. 

And so I think a lot of companies will make the mistake of saying “OK, well great let’s cut the 2,000 people.”But this company didn’t do that. They actually invested in training their people so that they know how to actually develop and deploy these software bots. They didn’t fire anybody. But again that is rare. 

And in fact this mentality is core to the pushback that organizations see if people have a fear that they’re going to be replaced by technology. 

So how can frontline leaders avoid this fear, and facilitate better technology adoption? 

I think that leaders need to do a better job of communicating the vision. They put all the resources into getting executives bought in on this vision, and this tool, or this solution. They waste all the resources there and they don’t actually invest resources in communicating to the broader organization. Like, why are we making this change? What training are we going to have? And you need to be very clear that this is not a labor-saving play. Show them how the technology will empower them. 

I think that’s what’s missing in all this. And because we don’t do a very good job of communicating, people revert to fears. 

Let’s talk a bit about different generations in the workplace. What implications does that have for frontline technology? 

I think the way that we need to look at technology is that it’s not just a business strategy. It’s actually a recruitment strategy. Because the younger generations that are coming in and essentially taking over the workforce are becoming the dominant generations. And they have grown up differently, with different expectations, and it’s the expectations we have as consumers that carry forward into our professional lives.

Like that’s why we’re seeing this term “consumerization of IT.” People expect consumer-like experiences in their workplace. With the labor shortage that’s happening right now, having the right technology is an expectation for these generations is critical. And I think that if you don’t deliver on that, you will simply not have the size, or the quality of workforce that you need to deliver the customer experience that you’re after.

How to optimize pre-shift team huddles

How to optimize pre-shift team huddles

We’re thrilled to have a guest post from Hypercontext on the blog today! The meeting agenda software company knows a thing or two about optimizing team meetings, and they’re sharing their top tricks and tips that frontline leaders can borrow when running team huddles. 

There’s one thing that all teams have in common: the need for communication and alignment. 

No matter if you’re playing a sport, working on a project, or sharing a shift, it’s important that your whole team is on the same page. In the long run, but also on the daily. 

Enter: pre-shift team huddle. 

There are countless benefits to a pre-shift team huddle — from gathering feedback and aligning on goals to team building and driving employee engagement. Coming together before each shift is a valuable touchpoint to get everyone on the same page about the day or night ahead. 

But sometimes, they’re easier said than done. In this article, we’ll look at best practices for optimizing team huddles and how to use them to set your team up for success every day. 

Here are 4 ways to optimize your pre-shift team huddles (plus a few ideas of what to cover!):

1. Don’t wing it – have an agenda

While a team huddle is a great way to get everyone energized, that’s not its only purpose. These quick meetings are a great way to align on SOPs, drive consistent execution, and reiterate core messages like brand purpose. 

Having a meeting agenda prepared is a best practice across all industries – deskless or deskbound alike. Lay out what you’re going to cover and what you want to focus on each meeting. This will help ensure your huddle stays on track and you communicate everything that needs to be shared. 

Added bonus: when you show up prepared for these meetings, it also signals to your team that they value the time to connect pre-shift.

2. Keep it short and sweet

Calling team huddles for more than 15 minutes isn’t sustainable over time. That also means you need to be strict about staying on schedule and not veer off topic. When the meeting starts to bleed over, it can throw off the entire day. And that’s the exact opposite of what a huddle’s supposed to do! 

Schedule your pre-shift huddle for 15 minutes – and stick to that time. They’re meant to be a quick way to touch base before the start of each shift and shouldn’t require too much extra commitment from your staff. 

3. Make it mandatory

Drinks after a shift can be optional, but pre-shift huddles can’t be. To be an effective team, everyone needs to be in the loop. If some people are in the huddle and others aren’t, some workers will be missing important information. And that leads to inefficiencies, fractured communication, and poor execution. Make your pre-shift meeting mandatory so you don’t end up with a disjointed team.

4. Ensure consistency 

Leadership sets the tone for team huddles. If they keep bailing on huddles, your team won’t take them seriously. Encourage your managers to stick to the routine, every single day. It’s important for employees to know they have the time to ask questions and get a sense of what’s expected of them each day. If they keep getting cancelled, you can’t expect to also get the benefits.

You’ll also want to keep the agenda of team huddle consistent. If you start with company updates, then employee recognition, then you go over daily tasks, keep that same order every day. It builds in routine. 

Bonus: 4 agenda item ideas for pre-shift team huddles

Speaking of meeting agendas, your pre-shift team huddle can go beyond the standard menu updates, safety announcements, and general housekeeping. Here are a few other agenda items to consider including in your team huddles to boost engagement and build community: 

1. Icebreakers

Encouraging staff to take a few minutes at the top of your huddle to get to know one another helps to energize them and build a sense of community. Over time, with these short ice breakers, your team will find commonalities that help build empathy. Here are some examples of icebreaker questions you can ask to get started:

  • What are you most looking forward to this week (personally or professionally)?
  • What’s a win you had last week? (personally or professionally)?
  • What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled to?
  • What’s your favourite book?

2. Company mandate, purpose, and goals

Your team huddle is a good time to remind your team what they’re working toward – today and also in the long term. And if you’re starting to feel like a broken record, you’re doing it right. According to the forgetting curve theory, we start forgetting things just hours after we learn them. In as quick as a day after you’ve learned something, you already forget 40% of the new information. The next day? 60%. And so it continues. 

Meaning: it’s important to consistently talk about goals and purpose if you want your team to remember them. After all, it’s pretty hard to hit goals you can’t remember. 

3. Recognition & feedback

Did anyone do an outstanding job last shift? Give them a shout out to recognize their hard work. Recognition helps strengthen your company values, increases connectivity and engagement, and provides positive reinforcement. In addition to recognition, it’s a good time to encourage two-way feedback. What are some insights the team is learning from customers? What processes could be improved? Is there anything the organization should stop or start doing? 

You can also use this time to give feedback. But keep in mind, this is absolutely not the time to share constructive feedback that only pertains to certain people. Here’s an example of the difference between the feedback you should vs. shouldn’t share in a team huddle:

Feedback that should be shared in your pre-shift huddle: “Recently, a lot of people have been bumping into each other in the kitchen, causing food to spill and glass to break. Remember to say ‘behind you’ every time we’re walking behind someone so we can all be more aware of the space around us.”

Feedback that shouldn’t be shared in your pre-shift huddle: “Sally, I noticed you were late to shift yesterday. As a result John had to pick up your slack. Moving forward, please make sure you arrive on time.”

The first piece of feedback is applicable to the entire team, while the second isolates one teammate, which impacts morale and engagement. 

4. Questions

Consider saving a few minutes at the end of the huddle for any questions from your team. Likely if one person has a question, there are more people who are wondering about the same thing. Instead of repeatedly fielding the same questions throughout the day, answer questions at a time when everyone’s present.

Whether it’s about something that was said during the huddle or a more general question about the day ahead, this is a great time to address questions or concerns from your team.

Showing up prepared and staying consistent will help you get the most out of your pre-shift team huddles,  so your team feels equipped each shift to tackle their day. Take the time to connect with your team before work starts to gradually build rapport, get on the same page, address any blockers, shout-out good work and answer any questions. 

Ready? Break! 

 

Nicole Kahansky is the Content Marketing Manager at Hypercontext, a meeting agenda software that’s empowered over 100,000 managers and their teams to be high-performing by combining meetings, goals and morale into one workflow. 

5 examples of amazing frontline employee handbooks

5 examples of amazing frontline employee handbooks

Often the punchline of office jokes, employee handbooks have gotten a bad rep over time. But for frontline and deskless organizations, these handy little books can do a lot of heavy lifting. They share crucial information about brand vision and mission. They reinforce SOPs and core mandates. They can even boost employee engagement and create a sense of community. And in the quest for staff (hello, labor crisis!) they can even act as employer branding, enticing more applicants to your organization. As Inc puts it, “Your employee handbook is more than a necessary legal document. It’s the baseline for your brand culture. (And yes, you really do need one).”

And especially now that virtual handbooks can be seamlessly integrated into a digital communication platform, it’s never been easier to keep all company information corralled into one easy-to-access place. 

Now the question is… will your staff read it? That’s where we need a little inspiration. 

Here are 5 examples of amazing frontline employee handbooks 👇 

Zingermans employee handbook 1 | Nudge
Zingermans employee handbook 2 | Nudge

1. Zingermans’ “keys to the organizational culture” 

Don’t think of Zingerman’s Staff Guide as a manual. The Michigan-based food business group likes to think of it more as a resource for its 700+ employees. 

“It grew out of our belief that everyone benefits when information is shared lavishly,” explains Maggie Bayless, founding partner of ZingTrain (Zingermans’ training and consultation offshoot). “We want everyone who joins our organization to have the keys to the organizational culture and the tools that will help them succeed.”

The 88-page guide includes everything from a timeline of the company dating back to 1902 and a 5-step plan to handling a customer complaint to  to why a sandwich costs what it costs (that nugget of info gets referenced often.) The guide is part of a robust onboarding program offered to new staff, which includes classes and other orientation sessions that reiterate the information in other ways. “I think they appreciate that the Staff Guide is designed to be fun to read and not just pages and pages of text,” says Bayless. “Mostly though I think people appreciate that there is an overview of pretty much anything they can think of – and info on where to go for additional information if they need it or have questions.”

Oh, and there’s a wordsearch. You’re after our heart, Zingermans. 

 

Nordstrom employee handbook | Nudge

2. Nordstrom’s legendary one-liner 

The luxury retailer’s handbook has become somewhat legendary for its brevity. It includes one single rule: use good judgement in all situations. In one sentence, Nordstrom is doing something that retailers are desperate to achieve: empowering their staff to drive amazing CX. 

“That’s the one rule we hand out to each of our employees when they start with us,” explained a spokesperson in SHRM. “We want them to feel empowered to take care of the customer, and this is one of the ways we do that.”

 

Patagonia employee handbook | Nudge
Patagonia employee handbook 2 | Nudge

3. Patagonia’s bite-sized book

The outdoor clothing retailer’s online employee handbook is broken into bite-sized nuggets of information that don’t overwhelm the employee. Here, the focus is moreso on core values versus compliance. There’s a playfulness woven through the handbook, with an earnest mission statement sitting alongside 10 fun facts about founder Yvon Chouinard. 

 

Jetblue employee handbook 1 | Nudge
Jetblue employee handbook 2 | Nudge

4. JetBlue’s magazine-style handbook

The airline’s “Crewmember BlueBook” reads more like a magazine, with clear, simple values and guest experience “promises” up front, and more complex details on benefits, policies, and additional resources toward the back. The whole book is easy to read and engaging – sure to retain the attention of any employee.    

 

Patagonia employee handbook | Nudge
Brinker employee handbook 2 | Nudge

5. Brinker International’s on-theme code of conduct

The hospitality brand behind Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy has a code of conduct handbook that is delightfully on-brand. Each page has a “Check Please!” section with additional resources and links, while “Something to Chew On” sidebars provide real-life situations and how to handle them in a Q&A format. The “Playing Restaurant” section, which outlines the rules and guiding principles for the company’s frontline staff, is focused on actionable tips and easy-to-follow guidelines. All in all, the employee handbook manages to pack a ton of information into a fun and easy-to-follow format. 

What can we take away from these 5 stellar examples? Thinking outside the box and offering your frontline and deskless staff information in an easy-to-consume, engaging way can do wonders for info retention, engagement, and execution. Especially when you keep your handbook in a central hub, like a digital communication platform, your staff will always have a go-to place to find information, review the core mission, and much more. 

Proven ROI of 484%

Forrester Consulting's Total Economic Impact™ study found a 484% ROI with Nudge!*

*over three years.