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How to keep deskless employees engaged

by Kartikay Kashyap

lwilEmployee Engagement

How to keep deskless employees engaged

Most of the employees declared essential workers during the pandemic were in deskless jobs.

Keeping employees engaged is a big task for HR professionals. But keeping deskless employees engaged is even more challenging. On-site or corporate employees working from the office can be seen fairly connected to the HR and the rest of the team. But what about people who do not work in the office?

Who are Deskless Employees?

The term deskless, is referred to those employees who do not have the need to work on desks or in the office. Do not confuse this term with employees who work from home. The term deskless is generally used for front-line workers.

These front-line workers can be the shop floor or employees working in remote locations in the manufacturing sector or front-line sales team in the pharmaceutical sector. Even the front-line workers in the retail and hospitality sectors are equally a part of the deskless employee?s cohort. Though working far from the corporate office, they are a critical talent for the business. So, it becomes really important to keep the deskless workers motivated.

Suggested read: How to Keep Employees Motivated During Layoffs

Challenges with Deskless Employees

Since the deskless employees are far from the main corporate office, it is difficult for the HR to establish a greater connection with these employees. There is no direct channel or line of communication and in fact, in many cases, many deskless and front-line workforce do not even have an official email address. So, it gets very challenging for the HR teams to stay engaged with these employees. What are some of the ways in which we can establish a better engagement level with deskless employees?

Implement Mobile-Based Technology

In today’s world, smartphones are something that every individual owns. Using mobile based apps to engage with a distributed workforce is one of the most effective and quick ways to consider. Through automated messages, we can communicate changes in work schedules, production targets, or work requirements to multiple employees within a short time. Mobile technology also offers cloud-based solution apps to get access to work related tools and documents, fill in attendance records, file reports or complaints. With this, it will be fairly easy for the supervisors as well to formulate work orders, approve work requests, monitor individual or group performance, and quantify business progress.

Recognize Deskless Employees in all ways

More often, due to the proximity factors, deskless employees miss a sense of recognition and value from the organization. In this scenario, organizations can better motivate deskless workers through various ways. To begin with, highlighting daily achievements of these front-line workers in daily newsletters can be a good start.

Moreover, it is very important for the direct supervisors to hold small meetings with deskless workers to appreciate and recognize good work. Supervisors can also use branded rewards, or monetary compensations to create a sense of pride.

Recommended read: The best low-cost rewards to motivate your employees

Create channels for sharing innovative ideas

More often, it is very likely that deskless employees will be left out when it comes to sharing new ideas. Supervisors will need to create channels where deskless employees can share ideas which will make them feel valued in the company.

Traditionally, such feedback came via the supervisors, but now we can leverage technology to build communities where ideas can be shared with the ones who want to hear them. 

Creating a learning and growth environment

Helping employees to upskills always gives them a feeling of pride that the company is investing in them. But it is fairly difficult for a deskless workforce to learn together. Many companies in the retail and pharmaceutical sectors use digital platforms to give access to deskless employees to learning modules on mobile. Organization can invest in creating learning opportunities which gives deskless workers an anytime and anywhere access to learning content in a personalised manner. Also, companies can look at adopting gamification technologies in learning which can create further engagement.

Whether it is in-house workers or deskless workers, having a culture of recognizing these employees is utmost important as the ways of motivating and engaging these employees can vary from company to company.