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!

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Total Economic Impact™ of Nudge

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Total Economic Impact™ of Nudge

For this Total Economic Impact™ study commissioned by Nudge, Forrester Consulting interviewed four Nudge customers across a range of industries to understand the costs and benefits associated with the investment. You can download the study here to see the full calculations and key findings, but here’s an overview of what Forrester found:


Forrester TEI report_infographic | Nudge


Want to know more? Download the full Total Economic Impact™ study here!

Collect actionable workforce insights with Nudge Analytics

Collect actionable workforce insights with Nudge Analytics

We believe all employees should have the tools, knowledge, and support to do great work every day. But in larger organizations, it can be challenging for head office to know what their frontline needs – to tap into the workforce insights that should be driving the business. 

What are workforce insights? 

As we explained last week, workforce insights are the output of workforce analytics, the key employee metrics that can be tracked to make fact-based, data-driven decisions around improving performance, engagement, and more. 

Workforce insights are the stories this valuable 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.” (Check out our workforce analytics explainer for more on this.)

What’s so special about Nudge Analytics? 

Nudge Analytics helps organizations ensure that each and every interaction with their frontline is relevant and actionable. By analyzing the performance of their communication strategies, Nudge Analytics gives organizations the insights they need to improve employee engagement, productivity, and performance.  

At Nudge, we take analytics very seriously. We have four guiding principles that guide our approach to data:

1. Analytics should answer real questions 

We want to help organizations answer real questions, not just share numbers. Are my teams aware of the new marketing promotion? How knowledgeable are my teams? Where are there knowledge gaps and why? These are the questions we look to answer. 


2. Analytics should be actionable 

Data is only helpful if it prompts action. Nudge Analytics tells a story – and enables you to take action based on what that story is telling you. 


3. Analytics should be intuitive 

Nudge Analytics are organized in a way that enables anyone to analyze and extract meaningful insight quickly and easily. We’re always looking for ways to improve our user experience and make the process as simple as possible. 


4. Analytics should match your business 

Nudge Analytics gives you the flexibility to drill down into the data that matters to your organization. You can see how various levels of the business are performing while maintaining a birds-eye view to see the whole picture.

How does Nudge Analytics work? 

Nudge Analytics dashboards make it easy to assess workforce engagement, quantify staff confidence, and evaluate operational readiness for key initiatives and procedures. Our actionable recommendations enable organizations to proactively address performance gaps and pivot quickly. Armed with a data-driven view of your employee communications, feedback, and engagement, organizations are set up to drive better business outcomes. 

To learn more (and to see our dashboards in action!) set up a demo today.

Find top talent quickly and easily with Nudge’s employee referral tool

Find top talent quickly and easily with Nudge’s employee referral tool

As the war for talent rages on, frontline and deskless organizations are ever-searching for ways to entice (and retain!) top-performing workers. And a tried-and-true recruitment tactic that all organizations should be leveraging is an employee referral program. 

What is an employee referral program? 

At its core, an employee referral program encourages current employees to tap into their network to recommend candidates for open roles. Then often include an incentive (cash or otherwise) if a referred hire stays with the organization for a set amount of time. A proper employee referral program lets you tap into the networks of your top performers that you otherwise might not be able to reach. 

The power of employee referral programs

According to CareerBuilder, employee referrals are the number one source of hire, with 26% of external hires coming from this channel. The same report found that 88% of organizations rank employee referrals as the number one source for high-quality hires. And referred hires have higher retention rates, a metric all organizations are watching closely right now because it keeps operations flowing and productivity on track. As one Forbes writer aptly put it, “Let’s toast the holy grail of hiring.”

Nudge’s Refer a Friend feature brings employee referrals to their smartphone

Nudge's Employee referral feature

Think of your employee referral program like your loyalty program. To get the most out of it, you need to ensure your workforce is educated about it – and empowered to use it.  

Nudge’s Refer a Friend feature makes this simple and easy by embedding an employee referral program directly into your digital communications platform. The customizable referral page lets employers share details on open roles and include a link to their careers page or ATS, so employees can share career opportunities through text, email, or link right from the app.  

Embedding an employee referral program right in your communication tool not only makes it easy for staff to access referral info – it also streamlines and scales the process. Whereas before managers would have verbally encouraged their teams to refer people from their networks, Nudge’s communication platform makes it easy for head office to nudge every employee directly to participate in company-wide recruitment efforts.

Organizations using Nudge can take their employee referral program one step further by baking employer branding messaging and employee benefits into their communications campaigns. This gives existing employees the information they need to show off their organization as an employer-of-choice to potential hires in their network. Nudge’s points tool can gamify the process even further, incentivizing employees to engage with employer branding information, details on the referral program, and more. 

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

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.

Q&A: Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild on corporate sustainability

Q&A: Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild on corporate sustainability

Corporate sustainability has a special place in Nudge’s heart. Fun fact: before Nudge became a digital communication platform for deskless employees, it was Greengage Mobile, a tool that helped companies share complex environmental initiatives with their frontline staff. We sat down with CEO Lindsey Goodchild to learn more about Nudge’s roots 🌱 – and get her advice on how organizations can work sustainability into their core brand purpose.

Where did the idea for Greengage Mobile come from? 

Lindsey: I started my career in consulting. I was working on a really cool project around sustainable tourism that involved big hotels, ski resorts, and restaurant chains to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their contributions to their local community, but in a way that created a big economic incentive for the organization. 

Nudge CEO Lindsey GoodchildWe needed to find ways to bring these strategic initiatives to life throughout the organization. In a hotel or resort where there’s thousands of employees and tons of different roles, it’s really hard to get everybody on the same page with this big change that’s happening, and what exactly they need to do to be a part of activating it. It was a huge challenge because those employees are non-desk, and didn’t have access to computers or emails, so the only way to really get the information to the frontline employee was to kind of cascade it down from HQ to regional directors or managers, down to the frontline. We found that the messages were getting lost and there wasn’t a lot of clarity and action on the things that needed to happen. 

I was trying to understand how to fix this broken communication so we could activate all these plans that we’d been building for two years. I was doing interviews with groups of frontline employees, and as I was presenting to them, they all had their phones under the table. I was like, your HQ is telling me there’s no way to digitally connect with the frontline, and here I am in this meeting and no one is listening to me because they’re all on their phones

So I thought, why don’t we meet this audience where they are – in a way that looks and feels like the other tools they use – to help them understand how they’re contributing to this bigger picture. 

So that led to Greengage Mobile. 

Yeah. I went to the organizations I worked with and pitched the idea of a mobile app. I got some initial funding, and I said, let’s do this. I wasn’t planning on being an entrepreneur, I wasn’t planning on starting a company, I just wanted to solve this problem that was so pervasive in my consulting career. So that’s how the whole thing really got started.

As founders, we – myself, Dessy Daskalov, and Jordan Ekers – were really aligned on the idea of bringing something new to the world that would make life better for our end users, and were aligned on supporting environmental and social issues along the way. Just think: in these massive corporations with tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of employees, if you get each of these employees taking one action, it makes a huge difference. 

How did Greengage Mobile evolve into Nudge? 

It happened organically. We started the company to help companies with focused initiatives around environmental and community impact. When we got it there, we saw such wild success with adoption and engagement. Our first customers said they never had a tool that allowed them to reach the frontline as effective as this – and it had such a virality to it. They were getting huge levels of adoption, really intense engagement that they’d never seen in other channels. So they started thinking, if this is our most effective way of reaching our team, what if we started putting other key initiatives through it? 

At the time, we weren’t sure if it was going to work. But it did – and it aligned us to the higher purpose of reaching this audience who previously hadn’t been able to be effectively reached. The dynamic nature of the app, combined with a huge transition over the last decade of digital natives taking over the workplace played really well into Nudge coming to life. 

Let’s talk a bit more about corporate sustainability.

I think some of the world’s best companies have sustainability at their core. Patagonia is one that I always point to, because I think that they’ve really shown what’s possible with a strong commitment to sustainability. When you look at the world of retail, they continue to be one of the most successful retail brands out there. So I think being a sustainable business and being a good business can go hand-in-hand if you do it right, and I would love to see all businesses make that shift. 

There’s been some pretty massive shifts around the recognition that climate change actually poses a huge threat to many companies (and all of humanity for that matter). With some of the changes of legislation around climate risk reporting, I think it’s really pushing the issue to the forefront. Now you’ve got companies that are doing it really, really well, because they know it’s good for their business, and then you’ve got other companies that are just trying to find their way through it for the first time. But I see a future where it becomes core to every company, because it’s core to how we survive on the planet. I think it’s going to take a multifaceted approach, with every stakeholder on this earth having a role to play in making sure that we’re creating a future that sustains us.

What are the challenges organizations face when trying to implement sustainability initiatives? 

Let’s flip it around. The companies doing it right – what are they doing? So take a company like Patagonia again. They have a really clear definition of who they are, what their value is, what their culture is around corporate responsibility and sustainability. Everybody that knows that brand, everyone who shops there or works there, really has that true alignment to that. I think it’s just been so clearly communicated and disseminated as to who they are, so everybody that’s there is on-board and is activating on what that brand promises. And I think that’s a very special thing to achieve. In a world where there’s a war for talent, having a purpose-driven company makes a really big difference. 

I think the lesson we can learn is to have a really clear definition of your brand purpose, what those associated values are, and find a way to have your team live those values. That’s where I think Nudge can play a really big role. We’re all about finding ways to connect and align the team to what a company stands for, whether it’s a sustainability initiative or introducing a new product. Nudge is all about making sure that everybody is aware and ready to act, and understands how their actions contribute to this larger goal. 

So a clear understanding of that initiative is crucial in helping teams to act on it. 

Exactly. At Nudge, we use a lot of nudge theory and behavior theory – that comes from my postgrad research around how to drive change in big organizations. And there’s a set of best practices of how you get people to do new things. The reason we built Nudge is to make it easy to help people take on these behaviors in little bite-sized pieces so it doesn’t feel like this big daunting shift. We make it easier for them to adopt the change, and really spend time helping them understand the whys. 

I think that’s especially important when it comes to programs around sustainability, because they really are those things that make a difference in the world and that feels good for people. It feels good to know that you’re being part of a solution.

What are some of the ways that organizations can implement that sustainable change?

When you have tens of thousands of employees and you get everybody taking an action toward whatever the goal is, that amounts to huge change. And I think that’s one of the things that Nudge does really well – it breaks it down to be a small thing for each person, but then it makes it easy to look at that collective impact. 

I think a lot of companies are doing many great things, but their teams just don’t know about them. So highlighting what the company’s already doing and also introducing fun new ideas is a great combination. When you have something as simple as encouraging employees to participate in Earth Hour, it’s so fun to hear from employees across the country – or across the globe – on what they’re doing. They’re posting pictures of playing games with their kids by candlelight, or taking walks with their friends in a new natural area they haven’t explored before. These connection points and sharing moments are essential for creating common ground and camaraderie – no matter the initiative at hand. 

That’s another thing that really excites me about Nudge – when we can create community and common ground between employees. Because that really enriches the employee experience. That’s one of the things that makes me really proud about what we do. 

What’s one tiny sustainable step that every company could take this year?

I speak a lot about the environment, because I’m really passionate about the environment. But companies could also look at their impact on the society or community they’re in. Sustainability could also mean looking at inclusion or diversity. It can mean so many things. And I think every company should find something that’s really core and true to their value as an organization, and really make it personal for every employee. Like, truly find a way to make it something that actually aligns with the culture and values of the organization. 

I think when that happens, that’s where you really get that compelling return of what they call the triple bottom line, where you’re making a positive impact on the environment, the community, and the economy. But just as importantly, I think it’s more about that connection that employees have to the brand and to each other. When you get that, you start to see benefits in many different ways. That’s where you get that truly meaningful impact. 

I think some of the issues that we face in this world seem really daunting. But when you’ve got tens of thousands of people taking one small action, the impact is huge. I think there’s just so much opportunity for us to just like do things together to make the world a better place.

What’s something that each person reading this can do to make the world a better place? 

Every person should be doing something that they care about – and make an effort to do something differently to create a better future for our planet. But that aside, my personal motto on this is “help the bees, trees, and seas.”  I like to help bees, our essential ecosystem pollinators, by planting wildflowers or other native plants that help support our local bee population. I am also a big fan of planting trees to both capture carbon and clean the air. And lastly, contributing to efforts to clean the seas by eliminating single-use plastics and reducing the toxic products that go down the drain. Bees, trees, and seas – excellent little diddy. 


Proven ROI of 484%

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

*over three years.