• Alexandre LEBEE

Engage your non-desk employees - they are your front line

Updated: Mar 3

The non-desk workforce is an integral part of your business model, ranging from shop assistants to manufacturing staff. And yet, although we increasingly acknowledge the importance of employee engagement and feedback, this is heavily geared towards those who work in an office. It is critical that the emotional commitment to your company is felt most by those who face your customers. And yet, companies can sometimes overlook the employees who are able to convey the heart and soul of your business.

Engagement or feedback is almost always assessed through surveys, which are deployed at set times throughout the year, accessible by computer. This is convenient for those who are in front of one 40 hours a week, but not for the non-desk workforce. Furthermore, survey questions may appear a little out-of-touch to your non-office employees, sometimes focusing on company strategy or mission. This is far from the minds of those who are not sitting in your strategic headquarters or regional hub. But that does not mean they do not know your business. In fact, your non-office staff are at the front line of your business, facing your customers, handling your products. They see firsthand how your customers react to what you are trying to sell. Trust me, you want their feedback. You want them to be engaged with the company. To sell a little harder, to take pride when they speak about the company they work for, to their friends in a bar or restaurant. Remember- everyone around them is a potential customer. They are your ambassadors, your brand, your customer experience. It is worth your while to understand if they are engaged, and if not, why?

Many companies have recently understood the importance of reaching all of their employees. Now that the digital revolution has brought forth a slew of mobile technologies, it has never been so easy as now. Surveys can now be deployed on mobile apps, circumventing the need to be chained to a laptop. We are one step closer to bringing in the remote employee. However, I wouldn't say we have won the battle. The revolution has not even begun, we have only peaked a glimpse at the arsenal of modern technology tools.

The real revolution comes when companies change the way they communicate with employees. Its about communicating with employees the same way you would communicate with your partner, your friends, your neighbour, stranger on the street, and also your customer. That is how you engage people in daily life to communicate and understand them, why would it be any different with employees? Granted, working in an office does come with an entire repertoire of cultural nuances - including bloated processes, lengthy emails and the expectation of being surveyed annually. However, this is not the case for the non-desk worker where surveys have no place in the context of their working environment.

There is a solution though. And it works for all employees, whether they have a desk, a laptop, a mobile phone, an angle grinder or an intense travel schedule. And companies do not need to reinvent the wheel. Society has been integrating this form of communication neatly into our lives over the past ten years. The vernacular of our age is a phone, a string of emojis and a 10 word sentence. It's simple and intuitive and it has permeated every demographic of human society. It is the much-loved manner by which everybody gives the world a piece of our mind. Yes, even your Director of FP&A probably uses the little emoji with his head exploding from time to time.

So we have a solution - a solution that works for all employees. It is now possible to connect an entire company through a common cultural denominator, capture important feedback and understand what drives and motivates all employees. This solution doesn't just work for now - it works for the future. The rise of the mobile, decentralized workforce is here, and spreading across countries and disciplines. It is important companies to build the infrastructure and connect the dots now. Integrate what is already human culture into work culture. Let people be people wherever they are, even at work. That is how companies can build an emotional feedback loops within the organization to drive engagement, collaboration and innovation.