Deskless workers, whether on the sales or factory floor, in the field, or on the road, are the heart of many businesses; without them, operations would come to a stop
However, often due to their physical distance from upper management, deskless workers are sometimes the least engaged part of an organisation and are directly impacted by an organisation’s biggest weaknesses, such as rigid policies, inconsistent communication, and outdated technology.
Deskless workers are also becoming increasingly younger, with Millennials and Generation Z now comprising a large part of the workforce and now have different technological, personal, and professional needs than the generations that came before them.
According to Gallup, improving engagement with employees can result in a 41% reduction in absenteeism, a 24% decrease in turnover, and a 17% increase in productivity and is a strong focus for organisation’s moving forward. A Gartner, Inc. survey conducted in May 2020 found that 64% of HR leaders are prioritising employee experience more than they did before the pandemic.
To thrive in the global economy, employers must improve the employee experience, providing functional technology that allows deskless workers to stay connected and engaged on the job. As with any change, taking the first step is often the hardest part. But improvements to the employee experience will ultimately increase productivity, strengthen workplace bonds, and lead to untapped long-term benefits.
Three ways employers can begin to adapt their strategies and improve the employee experience for deskless workers begins with:
Providing Employees with Greater Flexibility
Scheduling employees effectively is an ongoing struggle for employers and (when improperly managed) can be a point of contention among employees. That’s because scheduling not only affects how efficiently an organisation operates but ultimately how people feel about their work.
Overstaffing can drain company resources while understaffing can overburden employees, increase the likelihood of injury, decrease customer satisfaction, and damage an organisation’s reputation—both internally and externally. Under-scheduled employees can find themselves with too little to do, while overscheduled employees are more prone to stress, burnout, and fatigue.
As the events of the past year have highlighted, personal responsibilities such as childcare and eldercare, one’s health, and individual financial needs can affect employees’ willingness and ability to do their jobs.
Flexibility, especially at scale, is key. Yet sadly, 40% of employees said they have a lack of adaptability and flexibility in their work schedules.
Life is tough in the best of times. By offering more agency over deskless workers’ schedules—whether that’s through accessible, easily modifiable calendars, or standardised procedures and processes for shift swapping and initiating time-off requests—employers can foster a better employee experience and be aware of staffing problems before they happen.
Open the Lines of Communication
For deskless workers, staying up to date on company announcements, receiving directives, and connecting with superiors can be difficult. Similarly, it can be hard for organisations to get a sense of how their employees are doing and feel about their work, especially when they’re far away from HQ, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and lower productivity.
Opening the lines of communication allows employees to receive communications and chat, connect, and collaborate with co-workers or superiors in real-time—right on the sales floor, in the back room, at the job site, or in the field.
With processes and priorities continuously evolving, using tools to close the loop on communications, provide need-to-know information and advice, and capture employee sentiment—whether through surveys or one-to-one interactions—can give managers a better indication of how employees are doing on the job, reduce burnout, mitigate fatigue, and help them feel more engaged and supported in the moments that matter.
Provide Employees with the Necessary Tools to Complete Their Jobs
Every employee’s needs are different, just as they are in any organisation, but manual, outdated, or one-size-fits-all solutions frequently make it difficult for them to accomplish their jobs effectively. According to McKinsey & Company, recent events have accelerated the digitisation of internal operations by three to five years.
It’s vital to remember that enhancing the workplace experience doesn’t just require changes in work and management philosophies, but also improvements in the digital tools available to employees.
Historically, when it comes to the software, services, and solutions that they use to perform their jobs, deskless workers have often been overlooked. However, as the world’s economies reopen, companies are realising the benefits of investing in technology for deskless workers and are seeing it as a selling point in the war for talent, with 78 per cent of deskless workers saying that the technology provided by an employer ultimately influences whether they join a company.
About the Author
Steve Tonks is SVP EMEA at WorkForce Software. WorkForce Software is the first global provider of workforce management solutions with integrated employee experience capabilities. The company’s WorkForce Suite adapts to each organization’s needs—no matter how unique their pay rules, labor regulations, and schedules—while delivering a breakthrough employee experience at the time and place work happens. Enterprise-grade and future-ready, WorkForce Software is helping some of the world’s most innovative organizations optimize their workforce, protect against compliance risks, and increase employee engagement to unlock new potential for resiliency and optimal performance.