For corporate comms teams who are used to getting their message across electronically to employees – anything from a simple email newsletter to fancy intranet portal – it can be frustrating to have to do something different for those who aren’t sat in front of a screen all day. Workers in factory plants or on shop floors rarely have the time (or inclination) to listen to corporate messages.
So it pays to approach communication to this constituency quite differently. Often on hourly wages rather than salaried employees, front line workers tend to think about their jobs and their employer in a different way.
What to Communicate
First of all, comms teams will benefit from producing messages that, as well as getting important information across, helps hourly workers understand three things about their jobs, and their role in the company.
Their sense of purpose: Help them understand how what they’re doing makes a difference in the world. Employees are often more likely to work harder to help customers simply because customers say “thank you”; sometimes managers don’t.
Their sense of mastery: People want to know that they are gaining skills and experience. Try to incorporate a certain mastery or skill to reinforce hourly workers’ sense of progress.
Their sense of autonomy: Take time to record employees’ ideas for how to improve work processes and the working environment, and publicly thank those employees that contribute ideas. Ultimately, employees want to know they’re appreciated. They want opportunities to advance. They want good management. They want their ideas to be heard.
How to Communicate It
There are also three good ways to get these messages across.
Managers: The number one way of engaging and reaching employees is through their manager. Managers are trusted, easily accessible, and certainly the best way to reach non-wired staff.
Hourly workers also want to know about corporate performance as a whole – as they feel they could be first in the firing line if performance isn’t up to scratch. Line managers are closest to the action, so use them to your advantage.
Mobile: With a huge increase in smartphone use, many firms are developing mobile apps to communicate with their non-wired employees. Assess your own employee segment and decide if this is a worthwhile investment.
Does your workforce have access to their phones during the day? Are they allowed to review company information outside of work hours? Can you achieve the same results by including digital signs etc in the break-room?
Each other: It also helps to let employees spread communications. This can also be an opportunity to monitor what information they really care about (from what they’re sharing with one another) and how they feel about what the comms team is communicating.
Remember, bombarding them with “nice to know” information is only going to add to disengagement, and the comms team’s workload.