Improve Technology for Your Frontline and See the Benefits
As organisations invest in technology to secure their business, one area of the workforce regularly left out of these developments is the frontline.
Frontline workers are those dealing directly with customers or products - retail staff, nurses and drivers, as well as machine operators, warehouse and maintenance staff.
This article by Workaday cites a Gartner report (Hype Cycle for Frontline Worker Technologies) stating frontline workers are split into two areas, service workers and task workers.
"Service workers primarily spend their time performing client-facing activities. They typically represent the 'face' of an organisation to customers."
"Task workers are workers who primarily spend their time performing operational activities. They typically represent the 'heart' of the organisation."
These are fundamental areas of your business, so how can we use technology to encourage better engagement?
Why your frontline gets neglected
These employees are routinely excluded from business improvement for a number of reasons, an article in Personnel Today includes research from the Harvard Business Review and gives these reasons.
Many responding to the report suggested that security concerns were a barrier to providing frontline workers with mobile-enabled technology and company data. Other respondents, meanwhile, suggest traditional hierarchies have blocked technology developments with a belief that a lack of skills at the frontline make them unworkable.
The sheer number of frontline workers is also cited as a reason why these employees don’t even get their own company email address - let alone technology - and, with the lack of engagement and commitment in these roles bringing about higher staff turnover, it’s not only the costs involved but the management of such schemes which becomes a barrier.
But are these realistic concerns or just a hangover from outdated structures and practices? Disenfranchised staff are a real risk to a company, something I’ve come back to again and again, empowering your employees can bring huge rewards.
Engaging employees - right to the frontline
I’ve discussed before the benefits of employee engagement and it seems obvious that the employees who constitute the heart and face of your business (as noted above) are fundamental in that.
Happy employees are far more likely to create a positive customer experience. Being engaged results in caring about the success of the business, which ensures your people will perform their tasks well, providing the greatest benefit to the organisation and anyone they interact with.
It is also true that the disenfranchised frontline often feel they aren’t communicated with, resulting in a lack of understanding of company values and less investment in company performance. Most employees want to be better engaged.
With better-engaged people, people who are recognised for their achievements and who are able to communicate their concerns easily, improvements in productivity are a natural progression.
Empowering your frontline employees will result in more engaged and productive employees as well as satisfied customers - these are benefits no organisation can ignore.
How to empower your employees
Have you considered how to enable your employees on the frontline? Bridging the gap between your back office systems and a mobile workforce is full of complications.
Enabling two-way communication - within secure company parameters - on your employees own mobile device, is possible using the right platforms. Even for users without a company email address.
These can then be extended to your corporate employees (those who do have an email address) breaking down communication silos.
Using the right microservices, you can empower your employees without the need for large-scale developments; it’s all about finding the right solutions to create a bridge between your legacy systems and frontline workforce.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.