By Julie Ford on September 06, 2023
4 minute read

Frontline Workers, a large and very important segment of today’s workforce, are disconnected. Learn why and how to close the communication gap. 

Over 731,000 companies in the United States alone and over a million companies worldwide are using Microsoft 365, according to Statistica. Meanwhile, as per McKinsey’s findings, approximately 70% of the current US workforce is concentrated in frontline jobs. 

What we know from years of working with companies across North America that are on the Microsoft Suite is that, in most cases, frontline workers aren’t given Microsoft licenses.  

“Take a large retail company, for example. Say that 10% of the workforce works in the corporate head office and the remaining 90% work in the retail stores. Does the company invest in Microsoft licenses for the 90% working in the stores? No, they don’t,” explains Darren Smith, VP Customer Success, Sparrow Connected. 

As a result, a significant percentage of the global workforce is disconnected from the organizations they work for because they don’t have access to corporate channels used for internal communications.  

“The problem with not having Microsoft accounts for every employee is that a percentage of your workforce is out of the loop from a digital communication point of view. It creates a two-tier employee culture. There are the haves and the have nots. The employees that are in the loop, and the ones that are not,” explains Chris Izquierdo, CEO, Sparrow Connected. 

When you want to communicate digitally with your frontline, seasonal or contact employees (those without corporate Microsoft licenses), you can't. They don't have access to your internet, they don't have access to email and that creates a huge gap in your communication strategy from an internal communication perspective.  

The communication gaps can lead to serious consequences for the employees, the internal communications team and the company as a whole. 

Here Are Just A Few Of The Communication Gaps: 

  • Health and safety - Frontline employees need to get health and safety updates in real-time.  
  • Operational updates - Operational procedures and policies that are put in place need to be properly communicated and accessible at all times. 
  • Regulatory – Regulations are increasing in many industries and constantly being updated and the outcomes of not following them are becoming more expensive.  
  • Employee expectations - The employees coming into the workforce expect to use the same channels they use in their personal lives for work-related communications.  

Why The Status-Quo Isn’t Working 

Are these companies that do not have MS licenses for frontline employees simply not communicating at all?

They are communicating, but not effectively.  

If they don’t have the Sparrow Connected platform which enables them to easily communicate with frontline workers using their personal emails, social logins, SMS and mobile Apps, they’re relying on email distribution lists or email marketing tools, or their managers to communicate information to frontline employees. Both of these methods have significant flaws.  

Email Distribution Lists And Email Marketing Tools Miss The Mark 

The major downside of this approach is there’s typically no central area to drive these employees to where they can see current and past news, post comments and access important company resources like health and safety, regulatory and operations related documents. 

Instead, these employees just receive one-off emails with attachments in their already over-cluttered inboxes (and we all know what it's like trying to find important information and resources in an email inbox – impossible). 

Relying On Managers To Communicate Has Its Downfalls 

What happens in most organizations is they decide to communicate with the managers because the managers do have corporate Microsoft licenses and access to all of the internal communication channels. They have high hopes that one, the managers actually deliver the key messages down to their employees, and two, the key messages they deliver are actually accurate.   

“Remember that game called telephone that we all played as kids? It was always really funny because the message that the game starts with is not the one that it ends with. It’s time to stop hoping that your message is being delivered and delivered accurately and start knowing with 100% certainty that it's delivered and accurate,” says Izquierdo. 

What’s the fix? 

How To Reach Frontline Employees Digitally 

The solution is not to go out and buy Microsoft licenses for each and every employee. It doesn’t make financial sense and it’s just not necessary when the technology to communicate with this significant segment of the workforce without MS licenses exists today.  

In general, most companies want to keep the number of Microsoft licenses they have to a minimum due to how expensive they are. Say each license is $10 per month, per license and the company has 2,000 employees. That’s $20,000/month, just for the licenses (without including the costs for the IT team to manage and administer those licenses on an ongoing basis).  

If 50% of the company’s employees who currently have Microsoft licenses are frontline, seasonal or contract workers who really don’t need access to the full Microsoft suite of tools but do need access to company resources and internal communications, the company could cut their monthly Microsoft licensing fees in half, adopt Sparrow Connected, and still see significant cost savings. 

“We work with many companies that don’t have Microsoft licenses for frontline, contract and seasonal staff. With Sparrow Connected, frontline employees at these companies receive internal communications via digital channels that do not require a Microsoft license. The divided, two-tier workforce no longer exists within these companies because every employee is equally connected to the company,” explains Smith. 

Close Your Biggest Communication Gap With Sparrow Connected 

Sparrow Connected natively integrates with Microsoft and all its channels. Companies can manage and leverage all their Active Directory users, which are their corporate users. At the same time, they can provide access to their external employees without requiring a Microsoft license.  

Here’s how it works: 

  • Internal comms team uploads a list of employee contact information for employees without Microsoft licenses to Sparrow Connected, including:  
  • First name  
  • Last name  
  • Personal email address  
  • Mobile phone number   

Alternatively, this information can be automatically synced to the Sparrow Connected platform from the organization’s workforce management system or HRIS. 

  • Sparrow Connected automatically sends out invitations to all of the employees on the uploaded list.   
  • Employees accept their invitations and gain access to the company’s internal communications portal using their personal email addresses or social logins. 
  • Internal comms delivers communications to corporate and frontline employees on multiple channels (including SMS and mobile Apps) using the exact same platform. 

As an internal communications professional, you have the opportunity to help put an end to divided, two-tier workforces that leave critical frontline employees out of the loop from a digital communication perspective. Sparrow Connected is here to help you do that! 


Talk to us about how easy it is to start communicating with all employees equally and effectively. Book a demo today 


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BLOG POST TAGS: Internal communications Internal Comms workforce communication frontline workers Microsoft corporate

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