Improving communication for frontline employees

Last year many shops, restaurants, and hotels closed their doors unexpectedly. Frontline employees who previously served as the face of many organizations were suddenly forced to remain at home for long periods. How does good internal communication ensure that your deskless employees remain connected and engaged in times of uncertainty? And that they continue to receive up-to-date information in case the doors open again? Many of these non-desk workers have faced staggering levels of fatigue, disengagement, and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Improving communication in the workplace could improve things for frontline employees in all three areas. Last update: May 3, 2022

Sander Kalkman

Improving communication for frontline employees

Table of contents

What is the definition of internal communication?

Internal communication consists of any form of information exchange within your organization. So not only important guidelines and news from higher up but also mutual communication between employees and departments.

So basically, everything that is important for your employees to know. Typical internal communication tools are emails, newsletters, intranet, Whatsapp, a Facebook group, or an internal communication app.

Why is good communication with frontline employees so important?

Good communication in the workplace ensures that your employees feel engaged in your organization. In this way, they become enthusiastic ambassadors of your brand who enjoy their work and radiate that to the customer or guest.

And that indeed pays off: research shows that high employee engagement leads to more productivity, higher revenue, and lower staff turnover.

Common mistakes around communication with frontline workers

Communication is not just important – it can make a fundamental difference to your bottom line. According to recent research, miscommunication can cost businesses between $4,000 and $6,000 per employee each year.

For deskless workers, this figure may be higher still due to the additional challenges surrounding communication with deskless employees. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common mistakes hindering communication with frontline workers.

Mistake 1: Ignoring most of your employees

Up to 70% of the global workforce is made up of non-desk employees. If you ignore these individuals by focusing solely on your corporate employees, you’ll miss out on insight and feedback from the majority of your workers.

Mistake 2: Not providing recognition

Desk-based workers can receive regular praise for their work from colleagues and managers, but it’s a different story for frontline workers.

These employees may not have regular work shifts or even a company email. Make a point of delivering regular recognition to keep them engaged with their work.

Mistake 3: Only communicating through their managers

For many organizations with a large number of deskless workers, the easiest thing to do may be to communicate through their manager – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do.

If you avoid direct communication, you may not be showing them the respect they deserve, and the potential for miscommunication increases significantly.

Mistake 4: System fragmentation

Because non-desk workers lack a regular desk space where communication is centered, they often resort to disparate tools, whether that’s a personal email account, WhatsApp, or SMS. This system fragmentation means it’s easy for information to get misplaced.

Instead, think about how an Frontline Employee App can bring these systems together.

Mistake 5: You don’t have a communication strategy

It’s hard to improve communication with your deskless workers if you don’t have a plan but incredibly, 52% of businesses don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy.

Coming up with a clear plan can help you optimize the use of digital tools and meet your goals when communicating with deskless workers.


10 tips for effective non-desk employee communication

When your store doors have to close unexpectedly for a long period of time, sharing company information and news among your employees is more important than ever. By doing so, you keep them engaged and up to date with relevant information, as well as retain a strong sense of loyalty.

In fact, with any company update, whether it’s about closures, re-openings, new hires, or team outings, it’s essential that you deliver effective communication to your deskless workers. We’ve collected 10 tips below that will help you do just that.

Tip 1: Communicate directly with your frontline workforce

For major updates, try to communicate with your non-desk workers face-to-face or directly via your employee app. It’s easy for these employees to feel out of the loop, so make sure to communicate as directly as possible regarding the most important information.

Tip 2: Encourage regular communication between management and non-desk workers

How are companies facilitating communication between management and non-desk staff? Start by breaking down silos and making leadership personnel visible and relatable. That way, frontline employees will feel comfortable reaching out for support, feedback, and guidance.

Tip 3: Give everyone a voice

It’s easy for deskless workers to feel neglected – as though they don’t have a say in how their company operates. Unsurprisingly, one in three deskless workers feels disconnected from the organization they work for.

Use your internal communication and employee surveys, whether you use an app or a web-based platform, to ensure all your employees are given a voice.

Tip 4: Organize games and challenges

Organizing online games, quizzes, and challenges improves team spirit and creates a healthy dose of rivalry between employees, departments, and locations.

Moreover, through gamification, you can encourage deskless employees to learn more about things that are relevant to their work in an interactive and fun way. Even if they don’t work at a desk, they can still get involved.

Tip 5: Get your onboarding right

A user-friendly app with onboarding module helps you to guide new non-desk employees before, during, and after their first day of work with personal and, above all, interactive onboarding.

In doing so, you can make recruits enthusiastic about your organization even in turbulent times, and inform them about what they need to know in order to do their job well.

Example: Make new hires productive and engaged, even before they start

Tip 6: Collect feedback

It may sound a bit like a cliché, but to measure is to know. As soon as the doors of your company can open again, it is essential to collect feedback from your deskless employees. After all, they have the most contact with your customers and can indicate at an early stage what is going well and what is not.

Tip 7: Focus on transparent, open dialogue

Share information with your non-desk workers transparently and keep a two-way line of communication open at all times. If you encourage open communication, your non-desk workers – those directly in contact with your customers – will be able to contribute fully.

Tip 8: Encourage peer-to-peer communication

It’s easy to think communication has to be between the “company” and its workers but internal communication should also encourage dialogue between workers. This improves trust, camaraderie, and peer-to-peer collaboration.

Tip 9: Prioritize employee wellbeing

Improving communication for your deskless employees is about more than just productivity or efficiency. It’s about ensuring your workers feel supported and free to engage with their colleagues and managers. This can deliver major improvements to your employees’ mental health.

Tip 10: Personalize your communication

If you want your deskless employee communication to have a real impact, you need to personalize it, make it relevant to your employees’ daily work and try to anticipate potential questions. Generic company-wide messages are likely to be ignored.

Improve your frontline employee communication with Oneteam

Oneteam helps organizations to improve their internal communication. The all-in-one employee app includes a module for internal communication that streamlines your messaging with one easy-to-use app.

Interested in learning more? Watch the platform overview video below or request a guided demo and learn how Oneteam can help to revolutionize your internal communication.

Sander Kalkman

Sander Kalkman

Sander Kalkman is the VP of Marketing at Oneteam. He mainly writes about internal communication and other marketing-related topics. Fun fact about Sander: He also writes articles for Frankwatching, a popular marketing media site in the Netherlands.

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