How to Communicate More Effectively With Field Workers

Jun 30, 2021

We are at a pivoting point for the number of field workers to keep increasing and even office staff is enjoying the benefits of working from home. Between all of the remote work, employee management can become blurred between who is managing what team and what tasks. Frontline workers have been left out of the computer software loop that people take advantage of in the office making employee productivity more difficult to monitor as the mobile workforce grows.

There are many reasons why reaching every employee is important, from scheduling to benefit announcements, changes in procedures, safety precaution protocols that must be read and signed, task management and the progress of projects, and employee productivity that should somehow be measured with visible data.

Mobile workforce management software is the key to keeping in touch with all employees to communicate various messages and topics on different channels with a small or large number of frontline workers to keep up to date.

It's important to communicate to workers the strategy of task management and to implement that to promote a secure working environment where what is said is done. Consistency in task management and employee management will boost employee productivity and morale because there will be a reliable strategy that is tracked and supervised without becoming overbearing and micro-managing them or management having little knowledge of what's going on in different locations. 

In the past, the issue was that there weren't enough ways to monitor employee productivity and progress, leading to unsatisfactory task management, lack of planning ahead, and a Frankenstein combination of project management tools instead of using mobile workforce management software to cover all of the tasks, surveys, and checklists in one central dashboard, being agile and readily available for the mobile workforce.

Practical procedures:

Magnify the voice of the frontline workers 

Frontline workers are in the field where the action is and many of them are listening to customers' opinions and needs regularly. For workers that are still deskless yet not on the field such as in a manufacturing plant, they are still dealing with procedures; they know what works and what doesn't in the seemingly smallest yet very important aspects that can be easily overlooked by decision-makers that aren't cross-trained in every department.

Many times only the decision-makers have a say in protocol, materials, sourcing, and more. Without knowing how the frontline workers would solve certain issues or make something happen specifically, it makes it harder for leaders to be able to make decisions and possibly not do what's best in the most cost or time-saving ways.

Superforce enables managers to send out surveys to multiple employees in many teams and departments at once to give field workers a voice. While mobile workforce management software is a catalyst that drives effective communication, it is important to ask employees for details that only people can give. While giving surveys is easy and takes minutes with Superforce, when employees are given the option to speak up to middle or upper management directly, decision-makers can gain tremendous insight to be able to run things more smoothly, update procedures and protocols, and improve employee management and frontline workers' well-being overall.

Communicate with frontline workers who directly affect customer experience

Decision-makers may ask themselves how to communicate with frontline workers so the impact of their efforts inevitably reaches and affects the customer experience in a positive way. Is the communication they are using making things run more efficiently or is it taking too much time away from tasks and customers? Employee productivity can become hindered by receiving too many unnecessary messages but ineffective if they aren't included where they should be. 

Oftentimes, companies think of what's best for the end-consumer but don't put enough emphasis on how to make the company more sustainable or eco-friendly, for example. Perhaps the logistics costs are cheaper done a certain way but aren't benefiting the planet. Maybe there is another option that can achieve both. Not only is it better for the environment but consumers are becoming more aware of transparent standards now and even demanding them. This doesn't only apply to logistics of course, but improving how you communicate with workers will begin to smooth out problems or at least improve the way things are already working.

Additionally, employee management suffers at times when only the end-consumer is considered, making the customer experience eventually suffer as well. Giving the fieldworkers a voice and responding with action to correct problems and improve working practices will increase their morale and lead to advanced employee productivity. Encouragement without distraction goes a long way and better mobile workforce management will enhance that.

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Image Source: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Invest in digital channels with specific targets like work and project progress, checklists, and surveys

When managers have tangible data they can achieve more. Sharing the information between managers, decision-makers, and across departments will provide more defined information to be able to understand what one department's impact is on another and how one procedure helps or hinders the next. 

Since Superforce mobile workforce management software enables managers to create specific channels for different projects and team members, the right people have the opportunity to be included in giving feedback through simple surveys and project progress like checklists. If something is taking longer than expected, management receiving that information in real-time will help evaluate why and what can be done better. Before, it was difficult to monitor progress on various job sites where now, encouraging a mobile workforce will give more insight.

This can also help management react more quickly to situations regarding working practices, production, or the customer experience, respond to short-term problems more efficiently, and implement strategies to resolve long-term issues. The benefits of mobile workforce management include being proactive and reactive when something urgent arises. 

Additionally, workers can have their achievements measured in real-time, and individually, so it's easier to see who is pulling the weight and ensuring that people are being recognized for their accomplishments. This Curiosity at Work survey reports that 82% of employees are happier when they are recognized at work and 63% say that if they are recognized they are least likely to search for another job, maximizing employee retention. 

Make upper management more accessible in a time-efficient manner

Middle management or line management is one of the biggest conflicts for employees and barriers to their success. According to this Tiny Pulse study, employees are 4 times as likely to quit from bad management, and 40% of those who gave managers less than stellar reviews had interviewed for new jobs in the past 3 months. While middle management is still a position where many managers thrive and build successful and happy teams, no position is without flaws, and many times frontline workers don't have the opportunity to express that without it threatening their livelihood or success. Providing questionnaires for field workers regarding procedures and fair working practices that reach upper management will improve the overall company morale. Conscious consumers are taking a new interest in the overall transparency of companies and they are more likely to stay long-term customers of companies that ensure the well-being of every worker. 

Since upper management has a variety of tasks within the organization that spans past human resources, they cannot possibly oversee all of the things that are going on at different worksites and human resources doesn't have specific knowledge of the procedures and tasks that should be taking place in every part of the supply chain. Mobile workforce management software that has the ability to send out and receive surveys and progress reports from workers will display valuable data that multiple managers and departments can review, working together to achieve more, with a higher retention rate and a better company ecosystem. Human resources in conjunction with upper and middle management can look at the facts without distraction from other tasks and set aside a specific and intentional time to improve working practices.

Reach field workers, individually

Sometimes it can be complicated trying to reach frontline workers individually because of time, logistics, or lack of time allotted in between tasks. When decision-makers cannot drive to every job site because of lack of time, when the pandemic calls for contactless work procedures, or when the company strives for sustainable and eco-friendly practices, it's not possible for management to be physically present on a daily basis to interact with every individual worker. In fact, some upper management seldom make appearances at different plants or locations, only interacting with middle management and then workers don't always feel heard or don't have a chance to express themselves to any of the managers. 

Superforce enables managers to reach out to teams, adding employees where they are necessary in various channels so that the content regarding company announcements, safety updates, company changes, and more, are relevant to specific employees and managers can respond and act. This alleviates distraction from things that are out of that employee's scope and emphasizes their voice in the places that matter to their tasks, departments, procedures, and well-being in a more precise way.

With mobile workforce management, there is now a chance to communicate better and reach everyone where they had been overlooked in the past. While it is still important to have face-to-face communication with all workers from time to time, having a routine in distant and intentional communication with the mobile workforce will help individuals thrive.

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Image Source: Jeriden Villegas on Unsplash

Communication ethics:

Build intentional channels

Make specific channels for people in different departments and projects so that tasks and management are clear to everyone. There is information that is important to entire companies and then there is more specific information. When people are included on every messaging channel there is a conflict of who is leading what, confusion about task management, and a lot of distraction from employees getting their primary tasks done. Moreover, field workers will begin to ignore "crying wolf" messages when every task is flagged as urgent when it isn't, multiple employees in one department receiving updates on projects they aren't individually involved in, and too many people forming opinions and objections about things that aren't in their job descriptions.

On a general communicative level, letting people have a voice about struggles in departments, especially where one procedure affects another, is important for their thriving coexistence. However, having too many people involved in something that isn't their business will become everyone's business and cause problems. Decision-makers can gather information necessary with surveys and comments from employees separately and use that knowledge to strategize between management in different departments for a smooth-flowing supply chain. This way, everyone is heard but not everyone is yelling over each other.

Building intentional channels with the correct people is key to running a successful communication strategy with the mobile workforce.

Discuss how you will communicate internally as a form of procedure

How to communicate is a highly overlooked topic in companies. Companies tend to focus on external communications, keeping things relevant and professional for customer satisfaction and good rapport. The workforce is lacking a proper internal communication structure that reflects the inner company ethos and directly affects employee productivity and welfare.

When creating a mobile workforce management software procedure, managers in charge of creating channels should strategize them based on:

  • General company announcements and updates
  • Departmental safety procedures and changes in protocol
  • Projects which include certain employees for task management, reporting updates, project-specific procedure changes

This structure will do well with Superforce as field workers will know what should be responded to at the moment such as task progress updates, and what can wait until their tasks are accomplished such as company announcements which are important but not urgent. Of course, if there is an urgent message or crisis to be addressed immediately, management can do so by creating another channel unless they know employees will respond immediately elsewhere. That is based on how managers build their communication strategies which is why Superforce is agile and customizable.

construction workers on roof of job site
Image Source: Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Improvement tips:

Practice transparency

Be transparent about things going on in the company so employees don't have to find out about them by hearsay or aren't informed by middle management if they are focusing on different tasks and not human resources. The morale of the mobile workforce is clearer when companies are honest about shifts in procedures and company changes and aren't left wondering and feeling out of the loop. While discretion is still important in decision-making processes, the employees still feel heard as the data is collected regarding their feedback and details from former surveys and communication channels.

Meet with people in addition to mobile workforce management software

Employees still need human connection even when they can't be together all the time. Mobile workforce management software is fantastic for task management, workforce management, employee productivity, and checking progress in real-time. AI is amazing for adding to procedures and advancing long-distance communication but we still need people to work and build connections to thrive. While working at a distance is great in a pandemic and cuts air travel and logistics costs financially and environmentally, employees still want to see and talk to upper management every so often in person. This affects their morale and your employee turnover rates. 

Use the data you receive to measure internal communication over time

Measuring internal communication is crucial and few organizations take it into account or become frustrated because they don't know how to do it. If employees give feedback about how they feel regarding different communication issues when before they had little opportunity to, with "good", "very good", "bad", or numbered ratings, and always with optional comments for any field worker concerns survey-makers did not address, managers can prioritize creating new procedures and strategies to improve internal communication. Checking back with employees a few months afterward will be clear if their perceptions and opinions have changed when the company responds by taking action

To conclude, mobile workforce management software like Superforce is fit for a concise, intentional, and time-efficient way to communicate with frontline workers, maximizing strategies of employee management. Superforce will help build connections that are more consistent and make task management more scalable in real-time. 

Take action to communicate more effectively with field workers by signing up today and bringing your frontline workers into the mobile workforce.

Cover Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash