Why a strong frontline employee community is good for business

Why a strong frontline employee community is good for business

How important is an employee community to the success of your company? 90% of SMB employers believe it’s crucial, but building those strong connections gets tricker in large-scale enterprise organizations.

Why? When your frontline employees are spread all over the country (or the world!) making them feel connected is extremely difficult. And with other business outcomes prioritized, employee community is often neglected while leaders focus on more tangible objectives. In fact, a recent study found that only 13% of hospitality companies invest in their people

But it’s well worth the investment. According to The Deskless Report, 60% of deskless workers would like to have a stronger community with workers outside their location. Moreseo, a strong employee community can directly affect your company’s profits.

By understanding the benefits of fostering an employee community in your organization, you’ll see how investing in your people can drive retention, idea-sharing, engagement, revenue, and more. 

First we’ll explore what employee community is, then we’ll give you seven reasons why fostering a strong community is good for business. 

What is employee community in frontline organizations?

Employee community is an environment that empowers every employee to exchange information, collaborate, and support each other. It means a strong relationship and connections between members of an organization.

The topics of company culture and employee community are widely discussed within deskbound organizations. In fact, 47% of office workers believe that “putting community building at the forefront of workspace design is critical.”

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of employee engagement platforms, online workshops, and collaboration tools that help to strengthen a sense of community among deskbound workers, especially during the shift to remote and hybrid work.

But what about frontline organizations? Where are the tools to help frontline organizations build employee community? Of course, it’s so much harder to build a united community in fractured, dispersed organizations, spread across various locations. But these workers also have less access to collaboration tools (or even a corporate email!) to help them connect with their coworkers. 

But that makes it all the more important to find ways to build that employee community. 

Employee community increases employee engagement

Of course, the sense of community among coworkers boosts employee engagement significantly. 38% of frontline employees say a sense of community among workers makes them feel engaged and motivated. By making people in your organization feel connected – regardless of their location – you create empowered teams that are committed to their work and workplace.

And that’s critical because the impact of employee engagement can’t be overstated. One study connected employee engagement to everything from productivity and retention to the ability to align staff to corporate goals. More on some of these outcomes below.

Employee community retains employees…

Here’s the scary news: 36% of deskless workers currently want to quit their job. It’s hardly surprising that employee turnover is the biggest challenge facing deskless leaders right now, during The Great Resignation. But there are ways to address it.

Engaging your workforce with an employee community is a powerful method to reduce staff turnover. One survey found that 51% of employees said they quit or considered leaving a job because of the lack of belonging at work.

To retain staff, brands are increasingly going out of their way by coming up with new perks, but budgets are thin. However, all they need is to create a real community their employees want to belong to. In other words: employees want a sense of purpose at work – and a workplace community is one of the components that create it.

…And attracts new ones (especially millennials and gen Z!)

By 2030, Millennials and Gen-Z workers will make up 75% of the workforce. Frontline organizations doing their best to stay staffed during the labor crisis need to focus on the needs and demands of these younger generations. 

And the wish list is different. While older generations prioritized ethical leadership and financial stability, younger workers want to work for companies that care for their well-being, both physical and emotional.

In fact, one study found that employees under 34 care about the sense of community at work more than any other age group. If you want to attract and retain young talent, you need to create an environment where employees feel connected and recognized.

Employee community boosts morale

Employee morale is the overall satisfaction and feeling of well-being of employees with an organization they work for. High employee morale results in higher motivation and productivity.

And here’s a scary stat: 2 in 3 employers said maintaining employee morale had been challenging for them since the pandemic outbreak. 

The good news is that a strong employee community is a recipe against low employee morale. A sense of community belonging is a key component in boosting team morale because it creates an environment where workers seek stronger bonds with colleagues. It also eliminates toxicity. That can help to eliminate burnout, another COVID hurdle many frontline organizations are facing. Instead of spending their time and energy in toxic workplace conditions, employees embrace the “community over competition” attitude and feel psychologically safe.

Employee community encourages idea-sharing

Your frontline employees want to be heard. And when they feel heard, they’re 4.6% more likely to perform their best work.

While organizations will often turn to their deskbound employees for decision-making and ideas, they often overlook the valuable insights they can harvest from their frontline. This is partly because it can be tricky to capture those ideas at scale. As a result, 39% of deskless workers don’t feel heard by their organization.

When employees know they belong to a strong community, they are eager to help it get better. They exchange ideas for improving productivity, share success stories that might be useful to different locations, and support each other with solutions during challenges or hurdles.

Furthermore, a strong employee community encourages transparency across the organization. How would direct managers and supervisors improve working conditions or provide better experience for customers if they receive no information from their teams? Transparent communication is the answer.

Employee community boosts frontline worker health

According to Harvard Business Review, employees are lonelier than ever

The feeling of loneliness not only results in lower productivity levels but also brings health problems, like mental health issues and even poor immune system functioning. The World Health Organization says that depression and anxiety has a huge impact on the economy – the global economy loses $1 trillion in productivity every year.

On the other hand, the WHO also found that for every $1 every that organizations invest in addressing these issues, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Fostering an employee community in your organization allows you to connect staff across locations and regions, and even identify mental health and burnout red flags sooner. As mental health and employee productivity are so directly related, you can’t afford to miss out on creating conditions for better employee connection.

Employee community boosts profitability and revenue

When you invest in employee community, you drive employee engagement. And Gallup found that companies with high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable than their competitors. That’s a stat you can’t ignore.  

Each of the above-mentioned benefits contributes to the overall business performance. When you put together high employee morale, effective communication, high employee retention, a young and motivated workforce, a comfortable environment for idea-sharing, and mentally and physically healthy employees? All these components create a ground for increased profits. 

By creating a sense of community amongst your workers, you’ll not only drive better business outcomes across your organization – you’ll also attract new hires. What more could you ask for?

5 business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear

5 business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear

As a leader, you want to be constantly learning and keeping up-to-date with the latest business trends. But finding the time to do all that learning can be hard to come by. 

It’s one of the reasons we love business podcasts. Episodes come in bite-sized chunks, and can be listened to while you’re commuting, cooking, working out… You name it. 

Best of all? There are now hundreds of great business podcasts out there to help keep you learning and growing. 

However, if you’re new to podcasts, sifting through the wealth of content can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this list of our top five podcast episodes every deskless leader needs to hear. From covering current trends to sharing voices from the frontlines, these episodes will get you thinking, guaranteed. 

Here are five business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear:

1. HBR IdeaCast’s “One way to fight the great resignation? Re-recruit your current employees.” 

Time investment: ~25 minutes

What this is: HBR IdeaCast is the Harvard Business Review’s flagship podcast. In this episode, host Curt Nickisch sits down with Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer of Humanity Works, a leadership coaching business. 

Why you should listen: Now more than ever, keeping your employees engaged is the key to any deskless organizations’ success. While resignations and labor shortages can put you in firefighting mode, this episode is a reminder to focus on the employees you still have. Cohen and Roeske-Zummer share insights from their own careers and their work with clients that highlight how leaders and managers can support their teams through difficult transitions. 

Our favorite quote:  “People want to be seen for who they are and what they contribute and where they’re adding value. Those are all free things that managers and leaders can do to their people and it’s needed now more than ever.” – Debbie Cohen

2. Beyond Leadership: A Cleveland Clinic Podcast’s “Thank you for speaking up with Main Campus CNO Shannon Pengel

Time investment: ~ 30 minutes

What this is: In Beyond Leadership, host Dr. Brian Bolwell sits down with leaders from the Cleveland Clinic to share insights on leadership in healthcare. In this episode, Chief Nursing Officer Shannon Pengel reflects on the importance of feedback and psychological safety in driving quality. 

Why you should listen: We’re big fans of upward feedback here at Nudge. So, we love how this episode dives into how leaders can create a safe environment for feedback. Pengel talks about the importance of building a culture of mutual respect, and why emotional intelligence is critical for leaders. She also shares tips for how leaders can be more self-reflective in moments of potential conflict. 

Our favorite quote: “I think that’s what we want: everyone to feel comfortable speaking up and then being able to come and work right next to each other the next day, and saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for letting me know. I just didn’t think of that. I can’t believe I overlooked that.’ Those are the conversations we’d like to hear.” – Shannon Pengel

3. #WorkTrends’s “Work Culture Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle Columbia

Time investment: ~20 mins

What this is: #WorkTrends is the bi-weekly podcast and twitter chat from talentculture. Hosted by Meghan Biro, it brings in leaders from across the business world to look at emerging trends. In this episode, she talks to Dr Phillip Meade, COO of management consulting firm, Gallaher Edge, about lessons from the Columbia space shuttle disaster

Why you should listen: While you may not be making decisions on the scale of a space flight, as a leader, you are responsible for guiding your team through crises (like, maybe a global pandemic?). And in this episode, Meade shares his findings about how work culture contributed to the Columbia disaster, and the cultural and organizational changes needed to prevent future tragedies. Meade gives key insights into the difference between a good workplace culture and an effective workplace culture, and how your culture must be aligned with your strategic goals. It’s a fascinating conversation that gives a new take on the role of leaders in culture-building. 

Our favorite quote: “The biggest problem that I faced, believe it or not, was that the organizational culture at KSC was by all accounts a great organizational culture. We had just literally been named the best place in the federal government to work right before the accident… And so when I was asked to lead the culture change, one of the things I struggled with was: how do you change a culture that by all accounts looks like it’s a great place to work?” – Phillip Meade

4. Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama’s “Coming Together at the Grocery Store

Time investment: ~45 mins

What this is: Essential Voices is a podcast that shares the voices of workers on the frontline, followed by a roundtable with activists and leaders to discuss the issues raised. In this episode, host Wilmer Valderrama talks to grocery worker Ben Hess about his experience on the frontline, and then has a roundtable with actress and activist Sophia Bush and Jim Araby of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 Union.

Why you should listen: As leaders, it’s important to understand and know as much as possible about our frontline workforces. In this episode, Hess’ story is powerful, as he shares his experiences during the pandemic, including getting sick with COVID-19 and struggling with his mental health. In the subsequent roundtable discussion, the guests draw broader insights from Hess’ story, and reflect on how the pandemic should change how society treats frontline workers. 

Our favorite quote: “It’s still hard to go and work in retail because there’s just so much coming at you. You’re given these rules from the government, you’re getting rules from your employer, you’re getting opinions that you’re forming yourself based on the news and you’re trying to figure out how to meld them together. And at the same time, you’re getting people who are competitive about it and you’re trying to just function.” – Ben Hess

5. HRChat’s “Giving the Deskless Workforce Tools to Thrive w/ Jordan Ekers, Nudge.” 

Time investment: ~25 minutes

What this is: We couldn’t let you go without sharing one of the business podcasts our own COO Jordan Ekers has been featured on! HRChat is the leadership podcast from the HR Gazette. In this episode, host Bill Banham and Ekers dive deep into how technology can better serve deskless workers, boost productivity, and increase employee engagement.  

Why you should listen: In this episode, Ekers shares some of the key insights and research that have gone into the development of Nudge, and gives clear examples of how Nudge can impact your business. This episode is a great introduction to the ideas behind Nudge and how the product works – all in one engaging podcast episode!

Our favorite quote: “One of the first things that we did was to try to understand what motivates a deskless worker. We’ve now conducted significant proprietary research, as well as dove into all the employee engagement data that all our customers have… And the three things that drive satisfaction of a frontline worker is how well a brand communicates with that worker; how well a brand or a manager recognizes that worker; as well as, how well a manager accepts feedback and closes the loop to drive better change.” – Jordan Ekers

Business podcasts are a great way to squeeze some self-learning into a busy work life. Looking for more ideas to brush up your knowledge? Check out our list of top TED talks for deskless leaders


How to build the perfect employee rewards program

How to build the perfect employee rewards program

We’ve discussed how vital employee recognition is as a cornerstone for the success of your business, particularly when it comes to retaining your frontline and deskless workers. Now let’s go deeper into building the perfect employee rewards program. 

While often used interchangeably, the difference between recognition and rewards is vast. While recognition programs are about creating space for praise for an employee’s accomplishments, rewards refer to company-based programs that specifically measure and drive performance. 

For frontline organizations, a targeted rewards program can help in myriad ways, including: 

  • Boosting employer branding and aiding in recruitment 
  • Driving performance and striving for greatness 
  • Boosting employee engagement 
  • Fostering friendly competition

Rewards are an investment in workers’ productivity and engagement. Without them, promoting a productive, self-sufficient work environment that attracts real talent is impossible. Especially as companies face a heightened level of competition for talent, those without comprehensive rewards or benefits programs are quickly being left behind.  

Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a comprehensive employee rewards program that inspires frontline employee productivity and helps your company grow.   

1. Decide what actions you want to reward 

Rewards can reinforce and encourage the behaviours you believe are important and trickle down from your company’s values and mission. So the first step in building out an employee rewards program is deciding – and communicating – what behavior warrants rewarding. Baking these ideal behaviors into your culture and training can happen long before you launch your rewards program. This means clearly communicating your company mission and sense of purpose (fun fact: 55% of deskless workers are motivated by a sense of purpose at work), and showing how each workers’ actions level back up to that core mission and purpose. Rewards are important because it helps not only reinforce positive behaviour, it helps employees zoom out — reminding them why their work matters and how they make a difference. This in turn, makes them feel more connected and satisfied with their work.

This ideal employee behavior not only differs from industry to industry, but likely company to company so it’s important to be very clear and reiterate it often. What does success look like at your organization? Is it higher sales? More upsells? Better CX? Less food waste? More operational tasks completed daily? It’s important to remember that your rewards program might also change or evolve over time as these ideal behaviors change, but they should always point back up to the same company purpose. 

One more tip: Include your managers in the process. They are already key drivers of your company’s core values; engage and utilize them to help encourage their teams to get involved. They are already noticing and highlighting good behavior, and a good rewards system will also help them with their job and identifying star performers. Managers who are more involved with rewards programs are generally highly rated by their employees.

2. Identify the metrics behind “greatness”

A crucial part of any employee rewards program is a way to quantify success – but this is absolutely critical when it comes to frontline organizations with hundreds of thousands of employees. At that scale, you can’t just assume managers will identify top performers – that leads to bottlenecks, and various definitions of “greatness.” Instead, outline the key success metrics you want to track, and ensure alignment from head office to every single location on how and when this data will be collected. 

Here are some examples of data points you might want to track against your reward program, like operational task completion, employee preparedness, or sales data. But again, these metrics will differ from organization to organization depending on your goals and the communication tools you have in place to track them.

Tying these metrics back to your employee rewards program can be done in a number of ways, many of which make it easy to scale up your program and reduce the bottleneck on managers.  One of the most popular structured ways is to employ a point system. Outline a set number of points (i.e., 10 or 100) for completing a specific action or task. Once they hit 500 points, you can reward them with gifts, experiences, or other perks.

You can also tie rewards to recognition. Social recognition is a cost-effective way to express gratitude and allow everyone in your company to share their appreciation for other team members publicly, and when you connect that recognition to prizes, you’re really driving performance. 

3. Choose how (and when!) you will reward workers

In this step, you’ll decide how you will reward your staff when they achieve the metrics you’ve outlined. They don’t necessarily need to be monetary rewards – many employees seek out non-financial ways to feel connected to their work. 

Survey your employees to discover ways they’d like to be rewarded for their hard work. This has the added benefit of fostering your feedback loops to ensure your staff feel heard. Remember: to build a rewards program that’s truly unique, look beyond purely financial compensation-based rewards. Some ideas to consider: 

  • Company swag
  • Recognition or storytelling
  • Prizes or trophies
  • Gift cards or subscriptions
  • Parties or outings

For larger workforces, you can also consider using a system that allows workers to choose their own rewards. For example, Southwest Airlines lets staff collect points they can use toward swag, prizes – even travel!

Also: Your organization needs to move beyond just simply recognizing employees of the month and find creative ways to embed employee rewards programs into your day-to-day workflow. A Cornell University study shares that immediate, timely rewards can increase intrinsic motivation through connecting it to a task and a goal. Ultimately, if an employee is rewarded more frequently, they are more likely to be motivated to complete associated tasks. 

Digital communications tools can also help support your efforts through on-the-spot reward opportunities. You can help drive excellence and behaviours by thanking your frontline employees immediately as they act. From following new health and safety protocols or taking a customer calmly through a revised returns policy, and even simply rewarding staff for how they treat each other, the timely use of rewards can reinforce effective behaviours. 

Nudge makes gamifying your rewards program easy! Our points system is baked right into our communication, feedback, and peer recognition platform so your staff can climb that leaderboard with every announcement they read, and every idea they share! 

4. Set up the right processes and tools

Setting up how the program will actually work is another important step. That means going through the steps we’ve outlined above, but also going through the logistics in more detail. 

How exactly will you quantify success? What tools will be used? Are they integrated or separate? If it’s a points system, can employees follow along through some kind of platform? How will they be notified when workers win a reward? How can they choose their rewards? How can they be recognized afterward? All of these questions are essential to solidify in advance of a rollout.  

Next, communicate all the details to your workforce, your managers, and your head office.  Rewards programs lacking clarity may work against the problems they’re meant to solve, alienating employees instead of bringing them together. Educate your employees and ensure that they know and understand guidelines to earn rewards through your program. If you have a more long-term program, add it to your employee handbook and onboard your employees once they start. Avoid keeping things to only one channel; find ways to continually remind people about the great rewards programs and initiatives you offer by baking them into all of your employee communication and engagement initiatives.

Like any program, this isn’t a one-shot deal. As you communicate the details to your staff, check in to see what they think of it, and what they might find confusing about the program. Fine-tune the information as needed to ensure company-wide buy-in and adoption of the program – after all, you’ve put all this time and energy into launching it! 

5. Measure the impact  

To really prove the value of a rewards program, you must identify ways to quantify success and measure the value that it creates. In addition to the metrics we’ve outlined above (like sales and task competition), you’ll want to track metrics that tell you how your employee rewards program is driving employee engagement and motivation:

  • Employee retention rates
  • Employee engagement rates
  • Program participation (how often are staff getting rewarded?)
  • Other vital workforce analytics 

Through it all, speak to your employees. Find ways to enable every management level to collect feedback, use town halls and open or anonymous forums to collect honest feedback from your frontline workers. 

Without a doubt, rewards programs are a win-win for employers and employees. Investing in a rewarding and challenging work environment will provide your employees with the best experience possible and achieve critical organizational goals simultaneously. 

6 best-kept secrets for leading frontline teams 

6 best-kept secrets for leading frontline teams 

What’s the secret to leading frontline teams? At a recent Spark Session, we asked Tony Weisman, Advisor and former CMO of Dunkin’, Norman de Greve, CMO of CVS Health, and Lindsey Goodchild, CEO and Co-Founder of Nudge, for their thoughts. And they delivered!

Here are six best-kept secrets of leading frontline teams. 

1. The labor crisis is still raging – but not for the reasons you’d think

The biggest challenge when it comes to leading frontline workers? “Finding enough of them,” says CVS Health CMO Norman de Greve. “We’re out looking for another 25,000 people.”

But while actually finding workers is a challenge for frontline and deskless organizations, the trickier hurdle is getting them to stay. “Fundamentally, you’ve got to create a place that people want to work at,” says de Greve. “You’ve really got to think about what’s the environment you put them in? And how do you connect with them?”

It’s what former Dunkin’ CMO Tony Weisman calls “the pressing reality of finding, keeping, and inspiring.” And while the pandemic is undoubtedly the cause of this labor shortage, it’s not just about government subsidies and safety concerns – it’s also about a radical shift in the way the world works. 

“Work has changed in the last couple of years at a rate that none of us expected,” explains Weisman. “I love deskless as a term to describe the new type of work that’s done by millions of people in thousands and thousands of different ways. And because there’s all those opportunities for people to have a lot more flexibility over their own scheduling, the type of work, where and how they work, that’s led to a problem. Which is that people are pickier and moving around more. Not just between jobs – but between cities and lifestyles.” 

2. We’re at a tipping point for for the frontline employee experience

When discussing the importance of innovation in frontline organizations, Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild talked about how happy she is to see new technology and new investments being placed on companies that are focused on serving the deskless workforce. 

“It’s really exciting, because traditionally, venture capital is not really flowing into the deskless space,” says Goodchild. “But in the past two or three years, that’s significantly changed. There is so much opportunity for innovation.”

And employees are starving for this innovation. “They see a huge opportunity for technology to come in and help make a difference,” says Goodchild. “We’re at this really exciting tipping point where everybody’s recognizing that 80% of the world is deskless, and the technology investment there has been less than it should have been. But I think that the last 18 months have shown us so many opportunities. And so I think we’re just at the beginning of a lot of new, new, new when it comes to technology for this space.”

The panel discussed how the deskless workforce’s hunger for technology and innovation also speaks to the evolution of how people process information. 

“We have 180,000 people in our stores. The average person working in our stores is a millennial – and they process information fundamentally differently. But our technology systems, like most companies, are built up for legacy systems,” explains de Greve. He used sharing company values as an example of how ineffective communication can be when you pair legacy technology with the modern frontline: 

“Here’s what could happen. We communicate our values to our frontline, it goes into like some Times new Roman font on a to-do list – like, here are the new values. And then it shows up on a screensaver of some cash register. And like, let’s just be honest, that’s not going to do anything. But if you had the ideal world, where like you were demonstrating your values in a social media interface, where people could see how you’re really committing to them over and over again, it’s visceral. It’s connected to them in a way they process information today, and they would believe you a lot more. So technology can help you get there a lot faster than the traditional way.”

3. The future of frontlines: high-tech and empathetic

Technology was a common discussion point throughout the panel – as was our speakers’ excitement around where these new innovations will take us in the coming years. 

“I think that we are about to enter an era where the real and the virtual really are starting to come together in meaningful ways,” says Weisman. “Look at this conversation we’re having right here, compared to what it would have been like two years ago, on a dial-in conference call. Now, that’s not to say that this is a replacement for being in a room together, but if you think about where things were, we’re moving. And I think that the people who are responsible for creating technology going forward are becoming even more and more aware of the importance of making it feel human and empathetic and connected. If you’re in the world of using technology to solve problems, I think this is an exciting time to be doing it.”

For de Greve, technology is driving his industry to completely transform. “The future of healthcare is completely changing,” he says. “It is going to rely on a much more distributed workforce. It could be in your home, it could be in a clinic, could be in a store, it could be lots of places. And that’s going to use a different workforce. And it’s going to use a workforce that’s more consistently interacting with people. And it’s going to revolve around solving the fundamental needs of consumers. I’m really excited about where health is. And I think it’s actually going to, it’s going to be a fundamentally different model than what we all grew up with.”

“No matter the industry that you’re in, we’re just entering a new era of how we do things,” adds Lindsey. “And I think they’re going to be more human and more fun. I think that the future is really bright. As much as the last year and a half has been really difficult. I think at the end of the day; it has pushed us all in different ways. And those are skills that we’re going to carry forward.”

4. The biggest mistake leaders can make: not walking in their frontline’s shoes

When asked what their most cringe-worthy mistake was as a frontline leader, the speakers were quick to answer: “assuming you can walk in their steps when you haven’t,” said Weisman. “And there’s an awful lot of communication that comes out in email that sounds like it was written by a lawyer that lands with a thud to a deskless worker, who immediately knows you have no idea what they’re up against, no idea how to communicate with them, and no empathy. I see this all the time.”  

de Greve agreed, sharing this story: 

“A number of years ago, we had this idea about the importance of empathy in driving experience and driving sales. I was really excited about this. And we did customer surveys and I had ‘Were you treated with empathy?’ put into the survey. And I thought, this is great, we’re going to really track this. And then when we went to roll it out and we talked to people in the field, they were like, ‘You’re finally going to measure what we always knew was important.’ My big new idea was actually just catching up to where they already were. And it’s exactly what we’re talking about: I wasn’t walking in their shoes.”

The solution? Be there with them. “There is no replacement for spending time side by side, in the aisles and in the stores experiencing what they experience,” says Weisman. “It’s profoundly helpful, both in terms of what you do, as well as for them believing that you are in it with them.”

5. Prioritizing agility and adaptability? Ditch the cascade 

If there’s one thing the past two years taught us, it’s that agility is crucial to the success of any frontline organization. But implementing it isn’t always easy. “The last 18 months really highlighted that it’s critical to prioritize adaptability and agility. Sometimes it’s been forced on us. With COVID testing and vaccines at CVS, we’ll get a call on a Tuesday that they’re going to release something on a Saturday, and the whole workforce has to pivot over to that. We wouldn’t be able to do what we’ve been able to do without being able to be adaptable, and without being able to connect and communicate really rapidly.” 

de Greve also shared a lesson from United States Army General Stanley McChrystal: “He ran special operations in Iraq. And he talks about when you really need to move quickly, you need to expand the number of people getting communications in one step dramatically. So he would have a phone call, and there’d be like 3000 people on a phone call, because he wanted everyone to hear what he had to say now, and not have a cascade through. So I think it’s really important.”

6. The secret to building trust with a skeptical workforce

A challenge that organizations face when connecting with their frontline is generational divides. 

“If we talk about the Millennial generation, they’re the most skeptical generation,” says de Greve. “I’m a Gen Xer, so I like to think Millennials are even more skeptical than we are. They really are skeptical of what corporations say. So just because they work for you, they still might not believe you. They’re skeptical of everything. And so when you say something is important, when you say you’re going to go a certain direction, when you say you’re going to do something for them…you can’t just do one little thing and disappear. You have to do it in a consistent way, because they live the reality of your decisions much more than what you say. I think it’s very hard to build trust in a workforce that turns over rapidly and is suspicious of your motives to begin with. And I’m not saying we can’t do it. We should do it. We should follow through. I just think it’s a very hard thing to do.”

Weisman offered a few tips for connecting with a skeptical workforce: “One, if you do something that didn’t work, admit mistakes. Nothing carries more profound empathy and connectivity than admitting mistakes. Two, pick a couple things, and do a couple things well. Be honest and consistent in them. There’s no greater value I think you can do for your workers than to edit down what you expect from them. Do the hard work and say, you know, there’s a lot of things we all would love you to do, there’s a few things we would really like you to do. And hopefully that comes across as being respectful. And then you go from there.”

6 TED Talks every deskless leader needs to see

6 TED Talks every deskless leader needs to see

Great leaders are always learning, which is why we love TED talks! Browsing the vast library of talks given by world-renowned experts, you can custom-create your own leadership training program filled with inspiring talks to ensure you’re being the best deskless leader you can be. 

But your time is valuable, so you need to pick your talks wisely. Not sure where to start? Here are six TED Talks that are well worth your time. 

1. This is what makes employees happy at work by Michael C Bush

Time investment: 4 minutes

What it covers: Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush shares the key to employee happiness: making people feel well-treated by their leaders and their coworkers. Bush shares key three strategies that can boost employee happiness: trust and respect; fairness; and listening. 

Why you should watch it: As a deskless leader you already know the challenges of connecting with and retaining your deskless employees. Bush gives you practical advice on how to make changes in your organization that can keep your employees happy (and loyal!) and driving your business performance. 

Our favourite quote: “The miracle thing is, you don’t have to spend more money to make this happen. . . It’s not about the perks. It’s all about how [employees] are treated by their leaders and the people they work with.” 


2. Why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers by Diana Dosik

Time investment: 10 minutes

What it covers: Organizations are using sophisticated techniques to understand their customer journeys. Boston Consulting Group partner Diana Dosik argues that they need to use the same level of sophistication when it comes to understanding their workforce. Dosik makes a compelling case for how improving the employee experience can help your business run more smoothly.

Why you should watch it: When it comes to communication and execution, frontline leaders often blame employees for failing to respond, without investigating the underlying roadblocks. This TED Talk encourages leaders to explore the challenges organizations might be able to overcome, if they could identify the unseen factors that hinder change and progress. 

Our favourite quote: “Business leaders have a golden opportunity; they can understand and shape employee journeys the same way they do customer journeys. In fact, they can do it even better, because they have more touchpoints with employees than with customers.”


3. How to Lead in a Crisis by Amy C. Edmondson

Time investment: 4.5 minutes

What it covers: What does strong leadership in a crisis look like? Confident? Unwavering? Armed with all the facts? Sounds nice, but this model of leadership isn’t always realistic, especially when uncertainty is high. Instead, leadership expert Amy C. Edmondson suggests that leaders must rethink crisis leadership and focus on being transparent, acting with urgency, being led by their values, and giving power away.

Why you should watch it: Deskless leaders recently got a masterclass in leading through a crisis during the pandemic. But this won’t be the last upheaval leaders will face. Edmonson offers a way to “flip the leadership playbook” so that you can meet the next challenge (and the next, and the next) in ways that will bring your team along with you.

Our favourite quote: “We follow this new type of leader through upheaval, because we have confidence not in their map but in their compass. We believe that they have chosen the right direction given the current information, and that they will keep updating.”


4. Forget the pecking order at work by Margaret Heffernan

Time investment: 15.5 mins

What it covers: Writer and entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan argues that we need to reconsider the “superchicken model,” where energy and attention is heaped on high performers at the expense of everyone else. Using research and real-world examples, she illustrates how top organizations instead focus on improving the bonds between employees, and creating a culture of “helpfulness.”   

Why you should watch it: Building a sense of community between employees in a deskless organization can be a challenge. Heffernan highlights how seemingly small changes can have outsized impacts on team cohesion, creativity, and even profits. Heffernan’s radical rethinking of how to lead is a vision of making every team member count (and accountable). 

Our favourite quote: “For decades, we’ve tried to motivate people with money, even though we’ve got a vast amount of research that shows that money erodes social connectedness. Now, we need to let people motivate each other.”


5. Why good leaders make you feel safe by Simon Sinek

Time investment: 12 mins

What it covers: Management theorist Simon Sinek goes back to the earliest days of human evolution to explain why trust and cooperation are so pivotal in organizations. Sinek highlights the difference between organizations where employees trust their leaders versus those without trust. 

Why you should watch it: We’ve talked about the importance of psychological safety for deskless employees before, and Sinek’s talk brings that need vividly to life. Sharing thought-provoking examples of leaders who put the wellbeing of their employees above their own interests, Sinek challenges us to think differently about what it takes to create a sense of safety, trust, and community in the workplace. 

Our favourite quote: “If the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the organization. When we feel safe inside the organisation, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize opportunities.”


6. How reverse mentorship can help create better leaders by Patrice Gordon

Time investment: 4.5 mins

What it covers: Executive coach Patrice Gordon uses her experience as a reverse mentor for Virgin Atlantic’s former CEO Craig Kreeger to show how reverse mentoring is a powerful tool for ensuring diverse views are heard at every level of the organization – but for it to work, it’s important to create a structure. 

Why you should watch it: We love upward feedback, and Gordon’s talk offers a blueprint for helping leaders to see beyond their own blinkers. If you’re interested in experimenting with opening up more two-way communication, Gordon’s five steps will help you establish a successful program. 

Our favourite quote: “Our organizations can fall right through that gap into stale thinking, blind spots, and having policies that could alienate underrepresented groups, not only in regards to age, race, or gender, but all different types of viewpoints.”

Deskless leaders work in a challenging and dynamic business environment and it can be hard to find time to focus on leadership skills. But with a bite-sized time investment, these TED Talks will help you gain some new ideas and perspectives – all over a quick cup of coffee. 


4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition

4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of a business. I recently saw a great diagram called the “Engagement-Profit Chain”, which outlines the business value of employee engagement. It looks something like this:

Employee engagement flow chart | Nudge

As you can see, employee engagement has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. But, what’s missing from this chain are the factors lead to the success of your employee rewards and recognition programs.

We know that employees need to feel challenged, motivated, valued, and well-connected at work. So, having a corporate culture that embodies a vision of continual improvement, strong communication – and especially employee rewards and recognition! – can help you get there.

If you invest a little in employee rewards and recognition, it can go a long way. According to research, companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement. To get it right, you need to make sure that you are giving meaningful employee rewards and properly recognizing your employees for their time, efforts, and successes. This can be a little trickier with frontline and deskless workers, but it’s worth it. After all, the more effective your recognition and rewards programs are, the more engaged your employees will become. So, what are the keys to success? Here are 4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition to your deskless workers.

1. Employee rewards don’t always have to be monetary

Let’s be honest, we all love getting some extra cash or a gift card from time to time. In fact, gift cards are the most widely distributed employee incentives. But, it comes to a point where we have to question the meaning and value behind a gift card. With employee rewards, there is a major opportunity to provide employees with something individualized and meaningful. Even with limited resources and money, there is still room to get creative. Is there something else that is related and unique to your company culture? Is there a type of reward that would increase workplace socialization, such as team lunch or birthday celebration? These are things to think about…and it’s easy to learn what will resonate: just ask your employees!

2. Recognize more than just results

Effort is important, too. Employees often spend large amounts of time and effort on tasks or projects that aren’t generating big results (at least not right away). Plus, our valuation of our work is directly tied to the amount of effort we’ve put in. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it, even if it does not generate big results. The lesson? Make sure your employees are rewarded and recognized for effort and dedication. If they have put the time in and feel proud of what they’ve accomplished, they will definitely feel good about your appreciation. Recognition is an important psychological need, which means it should also be an important piece of your internal business structure.

Gallup quote on employee rewards and recognition | Nudge

3. Gamify your employee rewards program

Gamification is your friend. Games and rewards go hand-in-hand and are proven to be very effective at driving behavioral change, increasing workplace motivation, and increasing overall engagement. By introducing gamification, you can increase employee engagement by 48%. Try gamifying workplace initiatives, like training and development, by using leaderboards, badges, or points. Then, distribute appropriate recognition and employee rewards based off of involvement, achievements, and overall scores.

Gamification (and employee rewards) can help address knowledge gaps, too. Do you have a workshop on health and safety coming up? How about a digital marketing session? Use gamification, recognition, and rewards to celebrate employees who are most involved and active – or to incentivize those who aren’t. Take it a step further and continue to promote this learning and recognizing those involved by using games and mobile apps.

Gamifying employee rewards | Nudge

4. Make sure everyone (seriously, everyone!) knows

Why put all of the work into planning a recognition and rewards program, when there is no plan (or an ineffective plan) for implementation? Employees need to know when there is a system in place. Without awareness and a proper understanding, employee rewards and incentives will have little effect on engagement and productivity. Whether you are celebrating an employee achievement or encouraging adoption of new workplace technology, communication is critical. With today’s dispersed workplace, how will you make sure that all everyone involved knows about the program in place? Call out the programs in your communication platform or other channels. When awards or recognition are given, spread the news far and wide. Nothing gets employees excited like seeing these types of programs in action. 

Proven ROI of 484%

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

*over three years.