Poppulo
Employee Comms

Engaging Your Deskless Workforce in 3 Simple Steps

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 — August 22nd, 2023

Engaging Your Deskless Workforce in 3 Simple Steps

Deskless workers make up 80% of the global workforce. Working in essential industries like manufacturing, healthcare, retail, transportation, and more, these workers are the backbone of the global economy—but they’re often overlooked when it comes to communication.

Many of these critical workers can’t look at personal devices, check email, or log onto the company Intranet while on the job, making it extremely difficult to reach them with the critical information they need to get the job done—and general comms that helps them feel connected and part of their company.

Since the pandemic thrust this segment of the workforce into the limelight, companies have started investing in technology to support, engage, and communicate with these workers. But it’s not always clear where to start.

Poppulo’s latest executive brief—Breaking Barriers: Strategies to Engage Hard-to-Reach Employees—discusses the key takeaways from our webinar with Ann Melinger, CEO at Brilliant Ink. To dive deep into why it’s critical to connect with your hard-to-reach employees, the consequences of not communicating with this key cohort, and the strategies you can use to overcome this challenge, you can check out the full guide here.

If you just want a quick rundown of the three key steps you can take to engage your deskless workers, read on here.

Step 1: Establish a Listening Strategy

Deskless workers have a different experience than desk-based workers, so it’s critical to understand how their experience differs, what’s most important to them, and which channels are available to reach them with the information they need to know.

You can’t simply copy and paste the approach you’re using for other desk-based employees—you have to take a tailored approach to understand what matters most to your deskless workers.” —Ann Melinger

Here are three tools you can leverage to build an engagement strategy that works for deskless workers:

  1. Employee Engagement Surveys: Use engagement surveys to gain an understanding of employee sentiment so that you can continue to make improvements to your workplace communications strategies.
  2. Employee Focus Groups: Lead focus groups in warehouses, transportation centers, hospital conference rooms, or wherever employees do their work to gain a true understanding of their experience.
  3. Ongoing Feedback Loops: Maintaining an ongoing loop of feedback and communication is critical to continuously improve engagement. This can be done through employee feedback committees, digital suggestion boxes, pulse surveys, and quick feedback kiosks.

Step 2: Develop a Personalized Approach

So, you’ve established a listening strategy and collected all this employee feedback—but what do you do with it?

This is the time to develop a personalized plan for engaging deskless workers—which starts with the creation of personas. Here are some tips and tricks on how to build personas that accurately reflect your audience:

  • Narrow down your audience segments by defining the core groups that come to mind when you consider the makeup of your company.
  • Make your personas real by giving them actual faces, names, goals, and interests.
  • Check personas with cross-functional groups to ensure there are no unconscious biases or incorrect assumptions being made.

After you’ve defined your personas, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who do you need to reach?
  • What are their needs and priorities?
  • What data is available to you about this segment?
  • What data will you need to collect?

Once you’ve defined personas and answered these questions, you’re ready to build a tailored and targeted engagement strategy.

Step 3: Rely on Tried-and-True Engagement Strategies

Finally, with your audiences defined, it’s time to leverage tried-and-true engagement best practices to reach your workers. These include:

  1. Go Beyond Operational Communications: Rather than just thinking about operational comms like production targets, safety stats, and other need-to-know data points, rally employees around your mission and values, and emphasize their value to foster a true sense of belonging.
  2. Foster Equitable Growth and Development: Career advancement is a universal goal for every deskless worker, so communicators should partner with HR to make sharing growth and development opportunities a core part of their comms strategy.
  3. Activate and Support Managers: Managers are the linchpin in your communications cascade, so it’s critical to give them the training and support they need to effectively communicate with workers.
  4. Use Multiple Channels to Reinforce Key Messages: Companies must use multiple channels—like digital signage, mobile applications, Intranet, and more—to ensure their messages reach every worker. Download Poppulo’s Channels Audit Template to learn more about the channels and content required to reach each of your audiences.
Reaching deskless workers is a huge problem, but as internal communicators, you’re the ones that have the ability to get this right. You have the skills, expertise, and drive to do it, and you can have a meaningful impact on the business overall.” —Ann Melinger

Following these three steps will help you gain a greater understanding of the needs and expectations of your workforce, enabling you to reach them with the information they need to know in the way that works best. But, if you’re interested in learning more about how Poppulo can help improve comms with deskless workers are your organization, contact us today—we’re here to help.

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