Frontline employees are a crucial component of any business. They’re the ones who interact with your customers and ideally ensure them an amazing and seamless experience. However, since they typically operate in spaces separate from the rest of the company, frontline employees face many unique challenges, ranging from finite downtime and a weaker sense of community to limited access to the same communication and collaboration tools as office workers. COVID-19 has only exacerbated these difficulties for frontline employees by creating more stress from possible exposure to health and safety risks.
That’s why smart businesses know it’s important to prioritize their frontline employees and give them the necessary resources to succeed. In fact, 87% of the 464 business executives responding to a recent global survey from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services say their organization will be more successful when frontline workers are empowered to make important decisions in the moment.
So what does that entail?
The answer is creating a communications strategy for your frontline employees—one that keeps them engaged, included, and informed so they can make smart decisions, work efficiently, and feel loyal to the business. In this blog post, we’ll share three ways you can achieve this.
Consider the best channel of communication for frontline employees.
These days, it’s not enough to simply distribute communications. Frontline employees are busy throughout the day serving customers, giving them little time and energy to take the time to fully understand a message. That’s why it’s important to deliver communications with as few barriers as possible.
Ideally, your organization should have an omnichannel experience for your employees because it lets them choose the communication channel that works best for them. This can vary depending on their role, location, or even time and day. Overall, there are four channels that are effective for frontline employees: SMS, email, a branded mobile app, and a portal they can access right from their phones. Why so many? Some employees, especially younger generations, may prefer SMS, others may enjoy the seamless integration of a mobile app, and some may instead prefer the simplicity of email or a portal that they can check at their convenience.
Don’t forget that with an omnichannel approach, it’s important to keep all of these different channels in sync. Once an employee has seen a post, the technology should mark it as read for them on every channel. Even better, the technology keeps any engagement, such as comments, reactions, and upvotes, synchronized across channels.
Segment your frontline employees and deliver only relevant information.
Segmenting your workforce is a cornerstone of any internal communications strategy. By separating your employees based on characteristics such as role, title, location, and language, you can identify their specific needs. That same recent global survey from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services also found that 86% of respondents believe frontline workers need better technology-enabled insight to be able to make good decisions in the moment, highlighting the need to support them and deliver quality information. Segmenting your frontline employees thus not only lets you deliver relevant information that will empower them but also lets you protect them from communication desensitization—too many irrelevant messages may cause your employees to leave messages unread, even if there is the occasional important one.
Furthermore, creating and distributing relevant content just for your frontline employees can also inspire loyalty and better engage them. For frontline employees, feeling connected to their company can be a challenge since they often work separately from everyone else. In addition, interacting with customers can be extremely draining. That’s why it’s important to incorporate frontline employees into the company culture and community, as well as show your appreciation for them by crafting messages with a human and personal touch.
Have a frontline-specific crisis communication plan ready to go.
Times of crisis can further increase differences between your frontline workers and your office workers, as we’ve already seen with the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping your customers healthy and happy is crucial during times like this, which is why it’s equally important to keep your frontline employees, the ones who interact with them, healthy and happy too.
Fortunately, you can protect your business through crisis communications, which is the way in which you share information to address threats to your business, customers, and/or reputation. This covers responses to threats ranging from cyberattacks and PR incidents to possible COVID exposure from customers or employees. Your crisis communication plan should outline the roles, responsibilities, and procedures during an emergency. It should include everything from evaluating the initial situation and what and how messages will be communicated to who will receive these communications and how to respond as the crisis unfolds.
By having a crisis communication plan in place, you’ll be able to not only quickly and effectively correct any possible catastrophes but also reassure your frontline employees that they will be taken care of, which is especially important for them in these times of compounded stress and anxiety.
Empower your frontline employees with Sparrow
Your frontline employees deserve the best communication tools out there so they can stay informed, engaged, and safe. At Sparrow, we believe in the power of workforce communications and can help your business stay ahead of the competition. Book a conversation with us today.