How to reach the “forgotten 80%” through mobile technology

Posted on 06-20-2019, by:
Deskless employees those deployed remotely and offsite—now account for 80 percent of the global workforce. These 2.7 billion individuals face added limitations compared with onsite staff, both in terms of communication and access to corporate systems. As a result, this huge contingent of workers often suffers from even lower levels of employee engagement than those in the office, affecting team collaboration and morale while negatively impacting the bottom line. And it’s no small price: the Bureau of National Affairs reports that $11 billion is lost each year due to employee turnover—an expensive consequence of employee disengagement.

Drivers of Deskless Disengagement

A number of factors have led to the global deskless employee engagement crisis. To understand them, it’s important to understand how this critical sector of the workforce commonly becomes disengaged:
  • Poor reach. A more mobile workforce means people are based remotely or in varied locations, which often leads to inadequate reach to these deskless employees. The structure of telecommuting and other forms of remote working arrangements are not to blame, since these facilitate business results in many ways, placing people where they are most needed and boosting productivity. But if companies neglect to use the right technology platforms and tools, the result can be a far-flung network of out-of-the-loop workers. The fact is, despite the advantages awaiting companies that manage this process better, many businesses have yet to prioritize a systematic approach to facilitating reliable, two-way communication—not just from managers to deskless staff, but vice-versa as well—that increases engagement.
  • Lack of access. When it comes to internal communication and tools, deskless employees often lack even the basics. Tribe Inc. has reported that most deskless workers—84 percent—have no viable way to receive the communication, tools and resources they need to perform their jobs effectively. Without being able to access critical information that on-site staff has at their fingertips—everything from policy and process and onboarding instructions to compliance and safety manuals—those who work remotely are at a clear disadvantage, which can hurt the entire company. The reason that deskless workers often can’t get their hands on corporate documents, company news, and the latest updates are that this massive section of the workforce commonly lacks access even to computers, company email, and corporate intranet or notice boards. This limits their ability to communicate, collaborate, and share feedback with their peers and manager, whether these colleagues are on-site or based in other locations. As a result, engagement suffers.
  • Mission disconnection. When you absorb the fact that most of today’s global workforce is deskless, it becomes clearer why less than half of employees—only 40 percent, according to research from Chris Zook of Bain—have a firm grasp on the goals and strategies of their organization. Studies show that this is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to disengagement. Modern Survey reported that when workers know and understand their company’s values, they are 51 times more likely to be fully engaged than employees who don’t have a clear grasp on what their company stands for. In other words, to have the best chance for engagement, employees need to feel personally connected to the company’s mission—and be clear about how they can help to achieve it based on their specific role. This is virtually impossible unless an organization has an effective platform to offer staff across the organization the ability for mobile two-way communication, allowing management to not only communicate mission-based messaging in real-time, but also ensure that people understand and support it.
  • No two-way channel. To be able to communicate effectively and raise engagement, employees and management alike need a consistent platform and one-point solution for information exchange and give-and-take. If deskless workers—who represent the vast majority of the workforce—have no reliable way to be heard by sharing their perspectives, and can’t receive company information they need to stay informed and do their jobs well, then engagement is at risk. This trickles down to customers as well; research from Accumulate shows that disengaged employees are responsible for 65 percent of all lost customers. It should, therefore, be a high priority for companies to offer a mobile platform for the deskless workforce to fully participate through interaction and feedback regardless of where they are located.

The Power of Full-Company Engagement

When employees across the company—including deskless workers—are engaged, it’s good for business. This isn’t just speculation; there’s a real business case to be made for engagement, with research showing that companies with engaged workers significantly outperform those who lack them by 202 percent. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. When you’re personally invested in your company’s mission, you’re more motivated to help your organisation succeed. Full-company engagement improves trust in leadership, job satisfaction, accountability, and attitude, all of which can lead the entire organisation to better performance, increased productivity, and higher profit margins.

Engaged employees play a big role today in boosting brand advocacy. Consider how quickly negative perceptions about your company can now be shared on social media and review/feedback sites like Glassdoor, damaging a company’s reputation in seconds. To remain competitive, organizations must care more than ever about creating a positive employee experience (EX) for everyone across the company, including those who are deskless.

Neglect this advice at your peril, since business leaders recently ranked EX as the fourth most important global trend for companies to address, according to Deloitte. Less than a quarter of executives surveyed, though, believed that they were doing an excellent job in this department, which means there’s a long way to go in ensuring that all employees have what they need to feel engaged and invested in their workplace.

Mobilizing for Engaged Teams—Including Deskless Workers

Because the business benefits of full-company engagement are so numerous and clear, organizations that want to stay competitive should prioritize taking steps to create it. Mobile technology can play a significant role in turning around the disturbing trend of disengagement among the deskless workforce by inspiring engagement and meaningful connection companywide, no matter where employees work and what their roles are.

Today’s latest mobile engagement technologies offer a well-platformed approach that drives up engagement levels by reaching every employee and delivering engaging user experience. Mobile-enabled apps can come to the rescue of disconnected deskless workers in a multitude of ways, one of the most significant of which is giving them a voice in the company even if they don’t work in the office, allowing them to share feedback with management and best practices with peers. At the same time, since the communication is two-way, the deskless contingent can receive real-time updates from the CEO and leadership team, and receive recognition from their supervisor or others in their work community instead of feeling isolated and siloed. Some additional benefits include but aren’t limited to:

  • Creating a tangible connection to the corporate mission, and helping all employees become brand advocates
  • Facilitating communication within workgroups and communities via social media, sharing content/support, and knowing where to turn with questions
  • Instant easy access for every employee to needed documentation, including instructions, videos, training materials, safety procedures, and crisis communications.
  • Gamification through online polling and surveys to give management insight on EX
  • Analytic tools to measure success and keep engagement levels high over time, as employers can use gathered data to guide culture changes and provide important content based on employee feedback

Mobile-enabled technology is key to effectively driving engagement across the entire organization. With the right mobile engagement platform, businesses can support their deskless and office-based staff equally, ensuring connection and communication for every worker—with each other, with management, and with the organization as a whole. By facilitating the type of unified and positive culture that predicates full-company engagement, powerful mobile platforms are poised to change the future of work. By matching the new realities of a much more deskless world, organizations in any industry can finally avoid the many perils of disengagement.Recommended Resources

Author Bio

Geraldine Osman is the CMO at StaffConnect.
Connect Geraldine Osman
Follow @StaffConnectApp


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