Podcast review: How to build a digital relationship with your frontline workforce

by Nicky Budd-Thanos, on May 8, 2020

At Crew, we believe that equipping the frontline with digital technology to get the information, support and motivation they need leads to stronger business operations - especially during a time of crisis. To that end, we’ll be sharing some of the excellent resources we’ve come across recently that we think are critical for leaders looking to leverage the power of mobile and digital to create a more productive and engaged frontline workforce.
The Workforce Institute recently shared a podcast conversation on a chapter in Being Present: A Practical Guide for Transforming the Employee Experience of Your Frontline Workforce, between the WFI and Bob Clements, President of the Axsium Group. In their conversation, Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the WFI chats with Bob Clements about the incredible benefits that come from building a digital relationship with your frontline workforce.
Read on for our top highlights from the podcast:
  1. Upwards of 90% of people across the world have access to a mobile phone - and this adoption cuts across age, race and income level. In fact, smartphone penetration among lower income segments is extremely high, as this is often a sole means of internet connectivity. This represents a huge opportunity for employers to connect with their employees and build relationships with them through these ubiquitous mobile devices. As Joyce Maroney says on the podcast, “We’ve never needed those relationships more than we do right now.”
  2. The number one way that companies are leveraging mobile technology? Communication. Investing time and resources in building a digital relationship “allows employers to knock down traditional barriers for communicating with their frontline workforces”. In Clements’ experience, organizations excelling in mobile adoption are doing this by delivering authentic, genuine communication, not only top-down, but also laterally. This allows for connection between the frontline and leaders, as well as between team members and across locations. While these types of communication are important to have during ‘normal’ times, the current climate with the COVID-19 crisis makes this absolutely essential.
  3. Building a digital relationship has new, more pressing implications than ever with the challenges created by COVID-19. Bob Clements points out that while 30% of people are able to do their jobs from home, that leaves an overwhelming 70% of people who still need to be out in the world to do their jobs. Companies have to consider the critical role that mobile technology can play in the changing landscape. As Clements puts it: “mobile tech provides instant communication at times of need or crisis for employers.” This offers leaders an incredible opportunity to connect with a workforce that has historically otherwise been difficult to reach unless you’re physically in front of each other.
  4. During the podcast episode, Clements talks about his chapter in the Being Present book, specifically the five steps that employers can take to create a stronger digital relationship with their employees. While you’ll have to listen to the episode for the full rundown, his third point particularly resonated with us: as you roll out a mobile initiative and strategy, be sure to include your frontline workers in this process. Meet them where they are, get their feedback and involve their opinions and suggestions. As you build a digital relationship with your frontline workforce, don’t forget that establishing a basis of trust, respect and working towards the same mission is critical too.
While these highlights stuck out to us, the conversation is a must-listen - we’d love to hear which parts you enjoyed and what you’ll be thinking about with your own team.
And for more great learnings from around the web, don’t miss last week’s post where we curated ten great resources to help leaders hone their communication strategies during COVID-19.
Image courtesy of Vecteezy