Frontline Workers & Enterprise Collaboration: What It Is, Why It Matters and How To Do It Right
by Aware HQ
Companies may promote the importance of good relationships between frontline employees and their customers, but what about the relationships between these employees and their co-workers?
Engaged employees are incredibly valuable to the modern enterprise. The research is clear: companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. In an age of creative employee engagement strategies like unlimited PTO, free snacks and other perks, the truth is that the largest contributor to workplace engagement is whether that employee has relationships with other workers in the organization.
Unique Challenges of Customer-Facing Employees
The potential impact of engaged (or unengaged) workers on your brand is especially true with those on the frontlines—their job is to be the face of your brand!
Who Are Frontline Workers?
Frontline workers are the employees who work directly with the customers. They may not always have a desk, but they do have a huge impact on the way people view the company.
Frontline employees are often distributed or siloed by either:
- Geography: as is the case with a stand alone brick-and-mortar location.
- Job Functions: such as a customer service center.
Strategies such as sharing organizational vision and giving regular feedback empower frontline workers to be and do their best. One of the most impactful steps an organization can take is rolling out tools that build workplace relationships and connections with ease. And with many tools being accessible for the mobile-first workplace, you can even include your deskless and traveling employees.
Connect Your Frontline Into An Unstoppable Force
Collaboration tools such as Workplace by Facebook, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams let frontline workers build connections with other departments and leaders who work in different locations or job functions.
When sharing innovative ideas, collaboration tools tend to level the playing field. Customer-facing employees can easily share an idea in real-time—an activity that would traditionally require a large amount of email chains and approvals. This accelerated sharing of ideas from the frontlines enables more agile and responsive business functions, driving faster bottom-line gains and increased employee engagement.
In addition to public groups, two of the core tenants of collaboration include private and one-to-one messaging. This diversity in digital conversation structure looks similar to real-life interaction patterns. It's the reason that more than half of the employees at organizations with an enterprise collaboration tool feel that their company encourages connectedness.
Public and larger private groups give employees space to collaborate and share information in larger numbers, while smaller private groups and one-to-one chats help coworkers get work done and build interpersonal relationships in smaller group settings.
Don't Give Your Leadership a Reason To Say No
Those private messages that offer space for connectivity and community are the exact feature that makes many organization leaders pause. The concerns that surface are valid, but not insurmountable. In order to usher in the benefits to employee community, workplace engagement and culture, it’s important to acknowledge and address the inherent risks that come with this new type of workplace communication:
In 2017, employees caused 53% of data security incidents. Many frontline workers are deskless and rely on their personal devices to access collaboration tools. With BYOD (bring-your-own-device) and mobile-first workplaces, leaders need to implement solutions that provide visibility into public and private communications to control for risk of malicious or negligent data shares.
Spread of toxic behavior
The informal nature of collaboration tools makes it easy for employees to communicate more casually with their co-workers. Content in private messages is 160% more likely to be toxic than public communications, which could mean that employees are more likely to encounter inappropriate or toxic conversations in private group or chat scenarios. Examples of these topics could include sexual harassment or discrimination.
Equip Your Organization With Real-Time Monitoring of Mobile-First Communication
Certain departments carry the burden of protecting the company from risk. Human resources is responsible for protecting the workforce, infosecurity is responsible for protecting enterprise data, while legal and compliance teams mitigate regulatory risk.
Give these organization ‘guards’ the equipment to help them enable a powerful workforce while alleviating human behavior risk. Pair your collaboration rollout with a monitoring solution that surfaces risky communications in both public and private settings—before a situation spirals out of control.
Your workplace has too much to gain from connecting your workforce—the worry of a few bad actors should not keep you from encouraging better workplace communication for frontline workers.
Bring Collaboration to Your Frontline Workforce
Before you flip the switch and unleash collaboration to all employees—you need to answer questions from compliance, legal, human resource and info security leaders.
Download Aware's Comprehensive Guide for Workstream Collaboration Champions to be prepared for their questions, ease their concerns and achieve wall-to-wall adoption.