How to improve your employee communication on the frontline

Who is a frontline employee?

Frontline workers keep the world running for any service business. They work down in the trenches to get things done, and are the ultimate representation of the company brand when facing the clients.

Barista reading a text message at work

Frontline employees are referred to as “frontline” because they are the people who are on the front lines of a business, interacting directly with customers and representing the company to the public. This is a common position in a variety of industries, including retail, customer service, hospitality, and more.

Frontline employees are often considered to be a key factor in the success of a business, as they play a crucial role in maintaining positive customer relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Why front-line employee communication usually fails

Communication cascade doesn’t work

Most corporations still rely on communication cascade, where information is passed one-way through middle managers, reaching the frontline workers only after a long game of telephone. Needless to say, this results in confusing, inconsistent messaging that frustrates everyone involved.

There are many ways the broken telephone game messes up communication. It’s no surprise that deskless workforce is often cursed with..

  • Low awareness of relevant processes and policies
  • Lack of context regarding updates and changes
  • No way of communicating with coworkers outside the ongoing shift

Disengaged employees

Without a two-way dialogue, employees become a silent audience for corporate communication – isolated from each other, their managers and other departments. This is a very common reason behind a disengaged workforce – the chance that they get a sense of belonging like this is very low!

Often companies try to fix these problems by adding more communication – more newsletter, more staff meetings, more pins on the bulletin board. 

But instead, frontline employees should receive less noise from the loudspeakers. They should have easy access to information that is actually relevant to them in the given moment. They should feel connected and included when interacting with their work environment.

How to improve frontline employee communication

Providing your employees with human centric management and excellent working conditions should be on the top of the list of any employer. The ultimate priority of the modern times – finding them the most suitable employee app as an operative way to communicate.

This is a more difficult task than it may seem. Unlike office employees, frontline workers do not usually share a nine to five, Monday to Friday schedule. There will never be a morning standup or town hall meeting where every single employee can be present. Some will have a day off, some will be.. well, actually working.

Frontline workers do not spend their day looking at a computer screen. They often use cash registers, a warehouse database, a shared computer that runs EPOS software. But frequently checking e-mail isn’t a part of their daily routine. At the workplace they are not provided with personal devices like computers, tablets and smartphones. Most companies don’t even create e-mail accounts for their deskless workforce. 

But setting up a hub for central two-way communication (something much more direct than the annual feedback survey!) isn’t really that complicated. Implementing a standard employee communication app for your team can be executed in a matter of days. Starting to use an application specifically meant for deskless workforce management also rarely takes much longer.

Cashier reading a text message

Moving your communication to digital channels lets you reach your frontline staff effectively and give them…

  • Access to necessary information
  • A way for expressing their concerns and feedback 
  • A central hub and a single source of truth for work-related information

Introduce a BYOD policy

Embracing a “Bring Your Own Device” policy is often an essential game changer for frontline communication. Instead of banning the use of personal devices, you can allow employees to communicate and clock in through a smartphone they already have and use. 

There are also many good reasons why employees should have access to company updates during their time off:

  • Access to scheduling information and operational updates before coming to work 
  • Networking with co-workers without sharing personal contact information
  • Hearing the current PR updates live from the employer

Choose an employee app that is right for your frontline team

There are many employee apps on the market, each with their own pros and cons. Onboarding your employees to use a collaboration platform is a major process, so it’s important to have a plan in place about how you want to use the software.

  • Should employees be able to communicate with each other, or with their managers only?
  • What kind of information should be accessible – schedules, policies, updates?
  • How will your workforce troubleshoot problems like shift exchange or operational issues?
  • What’s an appropriate process for sharing ideas and insights?

No workforce app will come with these questions answered for you out of the box. Many platforms require thorough customization before you can ask your staff to download an app. Some come with simple features that can instantly support basic processes.

To each their own – if you’re currently looking for a frontline worker app, take a look at our article on choosing the right frontline workforce app. Or jump directly to Zelos Team Management page and try our super simple app for free!