5 reasons why you need pre-shift team huddles

5 reasons why you need 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. Making morning huddles a regular occurrence can help your team stay well-informed about your organization’s goings-on and keep focused – no matter what is happening. 

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.

Here are five reasons pre-shift huddles are a must for any frontline organization: 

1. 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, leading 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 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

2. 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. 

3. 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.

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 – especially 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. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. Research found that nearly 83% of managers say they give all their employees a voice. However…54% of employees feel voiceless. 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. 

Workforce analytics: A 3-minute explainer

Workforce analytics: A 3-minute explainer

What does every organization want? 

Better business outcomes: higher profits, lower turnover, better productivity and efficiency. And the key to shifting the needle on these crucial metrics is simple: your workforce. 

To set up your organization to thrive, you need to harness the power of your workforce. And to tap into your employees, you need workforce analytics. 

What is workforce analytics?

Workforce analytics is the process of tracking and analyzing key employee metrics to make fact-based, data-driven decisions to improve performance, engagement, and more. 

Long gone are the days where people analytics were just for HR teams. Now, this crucial data is used to drive better business outcomes across organizations – everything from sales and CX to operational efficiency and productivity. 

“Companies are investing heavily in programs to use data for all aspects of workforce planning, talent management, and operational improvement. People analytics, a discipline that started as a small technical group that analyzed engagement and retention, has now gone mainstream,” explains Deloitte“Analytics is shifting from a focus on HR to a focus on the business itself.”

Tracking workforce analytics allows organizations to tap into workforce insights – i.e., the stories your data tells: How engaged is your workforce? How reachable are your teams in uncertain times? How confident are your employees in executing current or future programs and strategies? These aren’t questions to answer with your gut. These are questions that can – and should – be answered with data. 

Why is workforce analytics so important? 

“In my experience, organizations that use workforce analytics have the most engaged workforces and they thrive in tough conditions,” explains Tim Ringo, co-author of Calculating Success: How the New Workplace Analytics Will Revitalize Your Organization, in an article for HBR

“When faced with a major investment decision, how many organizations would bet their success on a gut feeling? How many organizations would rely mainly on intuition when taking a new product to market? Not many. Yet, when it comes to the workforce – one of a company’s most expensive and valuable assets – too many executives rely on hunches, making decisions without making use of relevant data.”

In other words: workforce analytics gives organizations the data and insights to stay agile and responsive, and set its employees up for success.

Workforce analytics for deskless organizations

While harvesting people analytics is crucial for any workforce, it becomes especially valuable for deskless organizations with massive employee bases spread across the country – or the world. Collecting and analyzing workforce data is like scaling up your gut. It allows you to make informed decisions to boost the efficiency and operational agility of your teams, no matter the size. 

Capturing these insights might seem like a challenge, but you can start small. Here’s a list of the top employee metrics every organization should be tracking. (Psst…a digital employee communication platform will make harvesting and analyzing this data a breeze!

How to run an internal communications audit

How to run an internal communications audit

This is an excerpt from our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication. Download the free 40+ page guide for more information on internal communications audits – plus a printable worksheet to help you track your audit from start to finish! 

An internal communications audit is a review of how well your organization and its leaders distribute and collect information to and from your workforce and how well the current setup aligns with your overall strategy. 

This audit is especially crucial for organizations with deskless and frontline employees, who spend very little face-to-face time with management and don’t have regular access to computers, so a specialized strategy is crucial. A communications audit will ensure you identify the right way to share information. 

Why is an internal communication audit beneficial to organizations?

It may sound unnecessarily bureaucratic at first, but an audit is actually one of the best things you can do for your organization. Even organizations without a formal strategy can benefit from an audit. In fact, we would argue that they need it even more

Well-executed internal communications can engage and motivate your frontline staff. Just ask Clear Company, who found that businesses with effective communication are 50% more likely to have lower employee turnover. And ThinkTalent, who discovered that organizations with effective communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers. 

The reverse is also true. Poorly-run communications can lead to disengagement, and disengaged employees are a flight risk. According to Gallup, 56% of not engaged and 73% of actively disengaged employees are either looking for jobs or watching for other opportunities. 

Auditing can uncover serious issues with your internal communications strategy and reduce the risk of disengagement. It can also provide easy wins that open lines of communication and get employees back on board. 

So let’s get started. Here are the first steps to take when starting a communication audit: 

1. Create an audit team

Conducting a proper audit will involve time, effort, and dedicated manpower. While it’s tempting to hire an external company to conduct the audit, an internal team can be just as effective, provided they approach it in an organized fashion, and they have the independence and authority necessary to gather data and act on their findings.

If you don’t have a dedicated internal communications team to run the audit, put together an ad-hoc team composed of delegates from operations, HR, and marketing. You may also want to include someone to represent the frontline employees to provide additional perspective. 

2. Set goals

Question: what part of your internal communications do you want the audit to improve? You may be tempted to conduct an audit with a broad scope (“are my communications working?”), but you might see better results if you fine-tune your audit.

Audits work best when they focus on improving specific aspects of your internal communications. The narrower and more measurable the goals are, the greater the chance your audit will succeed.

3. Collect info and insights

Collecting the intel for your communication audit is a multi-stage process. If you have a digital communications platform in place, collecting these insights will be much easier – but taking a more analog approach is definitely possible as well. Let’s take each stage one at a time. 

Metrics review

We’ll talk about numbers more later, but workforce insights are a critical step in any communication strategy – and are extremely informative in your internal communication audit. Raw numbers can be used to either support or challenge the anecdotal feedback you’ll be collecting later. They may also signal warning signs for internal communication problems. 

Look for the metrics that relate closely to the goals you set, but make sure to consider multiple data points to get as wide a picture as possible. Again, a digital communication platform will make collecting these metrics easier, but there are still workforce insights you can tap into and learn from, even if you’re not using communication technology. 

Communication tools review

An internal communications tool is a method, product, or software that you use to send and receive messages to and from your team. Many companies use email, but we’ve seen everything from low-tech solutions like bulletin boards and posters to high-end digital communications platforms. The tools you use should make your communication strategy more effective and streamlined. And the only way to truly gauge its effectiveness is by questioning your assumptions. 

For a worksheet to help you assess your communication tools (and track your full audit start to finish!) download our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication.  

Anecdotal information

Numbers can tell you a lot, but the human side can tell you just as much, if not more. It’s important to interview both sides of the conversation: executive management and the workers. When talking to management, get their perspective on what they prioritize, how they think the company should be communicating, and what they think the gaps are. When you do get to talk with frontline workers, don’t ask leading questions. Balance quantitative and qualitative responses  and give respondents an opportunity to free-write their answers.

4. Analyze the intel

Once you’ve harvested your information, you can analyze the data to uncover weaknesses in your internal communications strategy and look for signs your communication is broken (check out our sidebar for warning signs). Compile your findings into key insights, then go back to your audit goals to see what conclusions you can derive. From there, you’ll develop a list of recommendations to share with stakeholders and start to prepare a plan of action. Here are a few examples of recommendations you might bring back to the organization based on your audit findings: 

  • Choose a new communication tool or platform to make communication simple and easy.
  • Create a monthly or quarterly communication calendar to ensure your communications are targeted around a core goal or objective. 
  • Identify the metrics you want to track and how you’ll track them. 
  • If you don’t have one, create a dedicated communications lead who will work with various stakeholders to create and share information. 

Remember, you don’t have to overhaul your entire internal communications system all at once. You can improve one component at a time, focusing on the area that will deliver the most value to the organization and its employees. 

Ready to try your first audit? Get additional tips and an internal communication audit worksheet in our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication. (It’s free! And it’s awesome!)

6 employee metrics every deskless organization should be tracking

6 employee metrics every deskless organization should be tracking

This is an excerpt from our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication. Download the free 40+ page guide for more information on workforce metrics – and building out your communication strategy.

Tracking employee metrics helps organizations to make fact-based, data-driven decisions to improve performance, engagement, and more. Whether you have a formal employee communication strategy in place or not, these are the numbers you want to keep an eye on. 

Why? Workforce analytics allow organizations to tap into workforce insights, i.e., the stories your data tells. How engaged is your workforce? How reachable are your teams? How confident are your employees in executing current or future programs and strategies? These aren’t questions to answer with your gut. These are questions that can – and should – be answered with data. 

Here are 6 employee metrics every deskless organization should be tracking: 

1. Adoption and reachability 

This is a crucial metric for any communication strategy. It answers the question, “Who can I reach?” Ideally, the answer would be 100% of your workforce. At Nudge, we consider employees reachable if they’ve used our app in the past 90 days, but this metric might differ depending on your platform or communication tool. 

2. Open/read rates

Again, this will depend on your communication tools and channels, but ideally you have a metric to track how your workforce is consuming content. What percentage of your staff opened your latest announcement? How many read to the end? How many clicked the CTA at the bottom? How often are SOPs accessed and read? These numbers, where available, will help you see whether your content is actually being read by your employees. 

3. Feedback metrics

We’ve already touched on the importance of a channel for two-way feedback. Employee metrics are a great way to get an at-a-glance understanding of whether you’re fostering a culture of feedback across the organization. These might be participation metrics or even word clouds highlighting what key sentiments are coming from your teams. 

4. Execution/employee performance metrics

Depending on your industry and organization, you might be leveraging standardized task lists within your internal communication strategy to reiterate standard protocols and processes. Employee performance metrics on your most frequently assigned tasks and their completion rates will indicate the effectiveness and consistency of your execution.

5. Knowledge rates 

Generated through knowledge testing and quizzes, knowledge rates will show whether the information that has been shared has been properly retained. This will ensure you’re identifying knowledge gaps as quickly as possible. 

6. Employee engagement metrics

The final step in measuring success in your teams is to see whether all the above employee metrics have done their job in fostering engaged, empowered teams. Employee engagement metrics can be measured in a variety of ways. They can be an aggregate metric based on how your employees engage with your communication and feedback channels, or it can be based on dedicated surveys and pulse checks.  

Need help remembering these metrics? Here’s a handy one-pager from our Ultimate Guide to Deskless Employee Communication 👇

Employee metrics one-pager | Nudge

Reviewing workforce insights provides a comprehensive overview of your workforce’s engagement, confidence, and satisfaction – all of which lead to better business outcomes. These employee metrics can also be used to identify warning signs, like disengagement, that can be addressed before they lead to productivity issues or turnover. 

Not sure how to harvest these metrics? Depending on what types of communication technology and tools you already have set up, these numbers can come from multiple areas, like email/newsletter readership, test results, survey completion rates, and more. But this is really where a digital employee communication platform becomes especially useful. Built-in workforce analytics make it easy to measure (and analyze!) all the crucial numbers you should be tracking. 

Streamlining deskless employee onboarding with Nudge

Streamlining deskless employee onboarding with Nudge

The first 30, 60, and 90 days are crucial to a new hire. It’s the organization’s first and most impactful chance to create a real connection with the employee and set them up to be highly productive ambassadors of your brand. An effective employee onboarding program means better CX, higher sales, more efficient processes and protocols. And, perhaps most importantly, it mitigates turnover, a huge issue right now as labor shortages are leaving organizations under-staffed and overworked. 

How onboarding reduces turnover

We’ve talked before about the cost of turnover. At the best of times, high turnover rates is a huge financial burden. But in a labor crisis, losing the talent you do attract can decimate an organization. 

Enter employee onboarding. 20% of employee turnover takes place in the first 45 days, and that number is even higher among Millennials and younger employees. “They define success differently than other generations. If a job isn’t meaningful to them, they aren’t afraid to leave,” explains Michelle Smith, VP of Marketing at O.C. Tanner. In other words: you need to engage new hires with your brand purpose the minute they get their foot in the door. In fact, research by Glassdoor found that a strong onboarding process boosts new hire retention by a staggering 82% (it also increased productivity by over 70%, by the way).

The challenges of onboarding frontline and deskless employees

There’s no arguing the importance of a quality employee onboarding program – but implementing a program in frontline and deskless organizations presents a unique set of challenges. 

For one thing, there’s the scale and speed of new hires. The high turnover rate of deskless industries means there’s a constant stream of new employees needing onboarding. And with some organizations employing tens or even hundreds of thousands of workers, onboarding at scale becomes a problem. 

There’s also the distributed nature of deskless workforces. In retail, foodservice, and hospitality organizations, employees are in small teams spread out in locations across the country or globe, making communication fractured. And in supply chain and logistics organizations, employees might be even more distributed and isolated, with even less connection to coworkers or teams. 

The final challenge of onboarding deskless and frontline workers is the technology. Traditionally, organizations leaned on the same communication tools used for deskbound employees – email, or an intranet site employees don’t even have access to at work. Or, employees receive communication through posters and bulletin boards, and verbally through floor managers. All of these communication channels don’t lend themselves to a robust onboarding program at scale. 

Nudge trigger-based onboarding makes the most of those first 90 days

As a digital communication platform for deskless and frontline workers, Nudge is all about giving employees the tools, knowledge, and support to do great work. And that starts with onboarding. 

Nudge Employee OnboardingBuilt on proven behavioral science and information retention best practices, Nudge makes it easy for organizations to implement a consistent onboarding program at scale. Our in-app triggers automatically send content on key milestones, such as start date, 30-, 60-, and 90-day check-ins, and other important dates. 

Using bite-sized, gamified content, organizations can use Nudge trigger-based onboarding to send the right information, at the right time. Educate new hires on brand values and mission. Ramp them up with product knowledge and best-practices. Test them on safety protocols, policies, and SOPs through knowledge quizzes – all sent right to their phone. 

Plus, Nudge Analytics makes it easy to track new hires through the onboarding process – and identify red flags for disengagement long before they become a serious problem.

Additional Nudge features to build connections

Nudge engagement pointsLeverage other features in Nudge’s two-way communication platform to build trust and engagement with new hires. Show them that feedback is a core value by inviting them to join Spark sessions and engage in employee surveys. Encourage community-building in Chat discussions. And showcase peer recognition right out of the gate with Cheers pins. 

Weaving these communication features into your onboarding program is a great way to engage new hires right from day one, and foster a connection that will keep them loyal for the long term. 

Interested in learning more about how Nudge makes employee onboarding easy and effective? Set up a demo today.

6 things we learned at The Millennium Alliance’s virtual assemblies

6 things we learned at The Millennium Alliance’s virtual assemblies

We always love an opportunity to talk with industry leaders about the challenges and insights driving their organizations – and The Millennium Alliance’s virtual assemblies last week didn’t disappoint. We spoke to retail and marketing leaders across a wide range of organizations looking to prioritize and invest in the employee experience in the coming month – and a few key insights came up again and again. 

Here are six things we learned at The Millennium Alliance’s transformational retail and CMO virtual assemblies: 

1. The labor shortage is real…

As businesses reopen and The Great Return brings employees back to work, the war for talent is leaving even top employers understaffed. There are a number of issues organizations are pointing to as the cause of this crisis: return trepidation, burnout, subsidies competing with minimum wage, and an increased focus on finding meaningful work, to name a few. To address the labor shortage head-on, organizations need to shift their focus to engaging and retaining the employees they do have. 

2. …and status quo doesn’t cut it anymore

For many organizations, the past couple years have kept them in survival mode, with a skeleton staff and band aid solutions to rapidly-changing protocols. But as the new normal emerges, organizations are ready to address, improve, and standardize their employee experience – and their employee communication process. As part of this new focus, organizations (finally!) are seeing that a one-size-fits-all approach to communication doesn’t work – their deskless and deskbound workers need very different tools.  

3. Scaling culture can be a challenge

We’ve all seen the stats around employee engagement as a driver of retention, sales, and performance – but scaling that company culture can be a challenge for frontline organizations employing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of workers that are distributed across the country or globe. Finding ways to keep a strong culture and forge connections with the frontline will be make-or-break for organizations in the coming months. 

4. The goal of employee communication is clear: revenue

Once upon a time, employee communication was a nice-to-have for HR departments looking to share intel on new programs and protocols. But now, organizations are seeing a direct connection between a well-informed frontline and higher sales. Particularly in frontline and deskless organizations, where employees traditionally have less access to standardized intel direct from head office, there’s a huge opportunity to invest in a communication strategy to boost product knowledge and share best practices that will empower associates and boost sales. 

5. CX is driven by EX

We are screaming this until our throats are sore, so it was great to hear industry leaders saying the same thing: happy end engaged employees provide the customer and guest experience that organizations dream of. And – here’s the important part – a happy employee isn’t just a well-paid employee. Employees want clear information, a sense of purpose, and a feedback loop so their voices are heard.  

6. The power of loyalty

Ah, loyalty programs. We’re talking a lot about loyalty programs with retail and especially marketing leaders, because of how much value is in the data – not to mention the customer retention it fosters. The challenge we’re hearing is inconsistencies in program deployment and in-store execution that can negatively impact that valuable data and customer retention. That’s where the associate comes in. The role of the frontline in mobilizing a loyalty program can’t be overstated – and that requires a robust communication strategy to ensure consistent information is getting to the right employees, at the right time. 

Proven ROI of 484%

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

*over three years.