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For over 20 years, the Gallup organization has been tracking employee engagement within the U.S.. They’ve found that employees who are not engaged are “Psychologically unattached to their work and company. These employees put time, but not energy or passion, into their work. Not engaged employees typically show up to work and contribute the minimum effort required. They’re also on the lookout for better employment opportunities and will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.”

In other words: disengaged employees are a problem. 

And for deskless and frontline workers, lack of effective internal communication plays a big role in disengagement. Communication to this workforce isn’t usually prioritized, and that leaves them at risk for disengagement. But the inverse is true, too. Effective internal communication can do wonders for employee engagement, and ensuring that every simple team member feels valued and in-the-know. 

Here are 6 ways to boost employee employees through effective internal communication. 

1. Send communications where employees already are: their phones

Have we already touched on this? Yes. Is it important? Also, yes. When your workforce is deskless it’s important to send communications where your employees will get them. 

A few fun facts from our BYOD guide

  • 94% of adults age 18-29 own a smartphone
  • Millennials check their phone an average of 155 times a day
  • 2/3 of workers use personal devices at work, regardless of their employer’s policy

Creating engaging, fun internal communications is important. But when your workforce is deskless it’s important to distribute these communications where your employees will get them. And, that’s their smartphone. Using smartphones to communicate with your frontline and deskless workers also means you can share information in real-time with them, when it’s most relevant to them, especially since they don’t typically have access to company emails or intranet sites during their shifts. Bonus: employees using BYOD are proven to actually save time at work. 

2. Instill an element of gamification to your internal communications 

Who doesn’t love a good game? A points system can have massive impacts on engagement and interaction – whether or not you implement a rewards program with it. 

The concept of gamification in the workforce isn’t anything new. It’s simply offering up points for actions that you want to encourage your staff to take, such as answering a survey or quiz, reading an employee memo or watching a training video. And it works. According to TalentLMS’s 2019 Gamification at Work survey, using gamification tactics at work makes 88% of employees feel happier and 89% of employees feel more productive. What’s more, 87% of employees surveyed said that having “game elements make me feel socially connected and provide a sense of belonging.” 

Engaging employees through internal communication and adding an element of gamification requires a few basic components, including goals and badges, transparency, competition, and community. It’s also important to ensure walkthroughs and explanations are made available to everyone, so it’s a level playing field. 

If you’re opting to use rewards, keep in mind that prizes don’t always have to have a “traditional” monetary value associated with them. One recommendation from TalentLMS is to offer “small, quality-of-life rewards, like a voucher for a lunch out or an extra day off,” that can be awarded in tandem with recognition from senior leadership or head office. 

3. Use visual content to help deskless workers consume information

The way humans consume information has changed thanks to social media, emojis, videos, gifs, and the like. It’s no wonder that 67% of people understand communications better when it’s through images and videos. With that in mind, effective internal communication should include more visual content, such as photos, videos, screencasts and the like. 

In fact, research conducted by TechSmith found that more visual content (screenshots, screencasts, photos, videos) in employee communications could unlock more than $167 billion in productivity. And, using visuals could save an average of 6 minutes and 43 seconds per employee per day, or 33 minutes and 36 seconds per work week – that levels up to 25 hours per year of added productivity! 

4. Make your employees the stars by sharing their stories

Deskless workers are often more removed from the corporate setting – and removed from each other. Despite having thousands of coworkers, frontline and deskless employees likely only know a handful of team members, and usually only the ones who work at the same location or on the same shifts. This is why building a community can be an easy win for boosting employee engagement. 

A great way to build an employee community is to bring in their own voices into your communications. This might mean day-in-the-life posts, where employees record their day with video and photos while on the job; it might mean having workers guest-write posts on your communication platform or newsletter; or it might even mean conducting interviews with employees to help the broader community learn more about each other. Anything you can do to build that community will pay off in the long run.

5. Run Ask-Me-Anythings (AMAs) with senior leadership

In large organizations with thousands of employees, it’s easy to forget the type of information that some workers might find valuable to their day-to-day. Opening up communication so that everyone can ask questions and address any issues can often lead to increased employee engagement. These AMAs and forums can help address what employees want to know about, not just what you think they should know about. This can help you build out effective internal communications later on.

“Do I ever end up squirming up there? Sure. There are plenty of times when I’ve been caught entirely off-guard. But that’s precisely the point. The element of surprise is the secret ingredient that makes the internal AMA such a valuable tool,” explains Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, in a Forbers article on why he started a regular AMA with his employees

“When your company scales beyond a certain size, it’s easy to lose touch with what’s relevant for people at different levels of your organization. In this sense, the AMA is a powerful way to collapse corporate hierarchies and ensure that all perspectives — not just those from the top — are heard.”

6. Go interactive with surveys and quizzes 

Gathering upward feedback from your team can go a long way to boosting employee morale and strengthening their engagement. Plus, surveys and quizzes have the added benefit of adding an interactive element, which is key for effective internal communication. 

With pointed questions, multiple choice answers as well as open-field options, your deskless workers across the company can feel as though their voice matters and that their feedback and opinions are important to the company’s growth. These can identify knowledge gaps that you can fill with future communications, as well as identify opportunities you might not have thought of previously. 

Another benefit is quizzes and surveys allow you to test knowledge rates and identify gaps that need to be addressed either with further communication or more training. It’s also a great way to measure readiness and confidence in an open-ended way by taking a temperature check of sorts with your employees, this can go a long way in improving confidence and boosting engagement. 

Your frontline and deskless employees don’t have the same access to the traditional internal communications other employees might have. It’s therefore important to remember that they often require special attention to ensure they’re kept abreast of all the important and relevant company-wide information. The more interactive and engaging your communication, the better received they’ll be by your employees, particularly your deskless ones. And the better they’re received, the more of an impact they’ll have on your employee engagement. It may be a bit more challenging but also very rewarding – for you and them.