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Supervisors of frontline workers often have the difficult task of engaging their frontline worker direct reports. While keeping staff engaged and connected sounds like it would be easy in today’s digital era, it’s actually quite difficult, especially when dealing with a distributed or remote workforce.

Companies with little or no technology focused on frontline worker engagement may also be lacking solutions that make management’s job easier. And, introducing new technology to employees, especially those frontline workers, can often lead to pushback for many reasons stemming from a lack of trust of management, a desire to avoid management oversight and sometimes just from workers being resistant to change.

There’s no doubt that people are at the core of every business, so it’s important to keep those people happy. Happy and motivated employees are more likely to do a better job and reach their maximum potential. According to a recent Gallup study, there are 2.7 billion frontline workers around the globe, but only 13% of them feel engaged at work. A study by Forbes Insight and VMWare found that by implementing technology into the field, workers are five times more productive.

From a manager's perspective, frontline workers using technology are more likely to be engaged. Once employees adopt and embrace the technologies, they often realize improvements in productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in routine tasks. They're not just using technology; they're really engaging with the underlying business processes and feeling empowered to share feedback, knowledge and information. This results in employee satisfaction and retention and, as well as improved safety in hazardous environments. 

Straightforward and simple to use

Contractors need a solution that’s easy to use and access, which means that the worker shouldn’t need excessive training or complicated instructions. Information should be easily available so there is quick access by workers to perform their jobs, to remain safe and in compliance with standards and to feel empowered to do great work.

Because frontline workers are focused on tasks and productivity, they may not stop and think about how their actions align with larger company standards, rules and practices. Solutions engaging the worker need to support delivering important information and critical content at the point where work occurs and when needed by the worker.

It’s also important that whatever type of solution is chosen, it has the option for employees to provide feedback easily, post questions, and leave comments so they have a path to share information with coworkers and management staff.

Create a collaborative working environment

Timely information is critical for productivity and efficiency. This means that real-time feedback and collaboration are important characteristics of a solution that will be leveraged by management and frontline workers. Contractors need to enable timely interaction between workers, their peers and supervisors so information can be shared when it can make a difference. Employees also need to be reached where they are—whether on the jobsite or in a remote field location.

From sharing files, pictures, and project updates, technology can provide access to the necessary information and updates that help enhance productivity and boost worker engagement. It’s important for workers have access to information related to the job they are working on whenever information is needed.

For example, if a worker is on a job for the first time, access to previous information about that job from a coworker about potential risks or dangers or pertinent information about the job or work environment can be critical. This can mean the difference between missing job deadlines versus productivity gains that enable work to be completed on time. Or, more importantly, it can be the difference between someone completing work safely versus getting injured. Once a workforce is equipped with this type of valuable information, worker engagement can dramatically improve along with worker satisfaction and improved trust in management.

Keeping Employees Safe

 The ultimate goal and responsibility of an employer is to help keep employees safe and ensure they make it home safely at the end of the day. To effectively protect frontline workers, businesses and management staff should consider augmenting traditional training, paper-based and ad hoc safety solutions for the frontline with technology solutions. One easy way to engage workers is with the technology they already have: mobile devices. It’s likely every employee in a company has their own mobile device or may have a company-issued mobile phone or tablet. These familiar devices can be leveraged in new ways that get them engaged and more productive on devices already used with great frequency.

By allowing employees to have the opportunity to more easily identify risks and concerns through mobile-based frontline worker safety software, workers can be more proactive with safety, identifying potential red flag issues before they become incidents. Once workers are given a voice enabled by the technology, they can quickly share ideas on safety-related improvements that can make a real difference.

The key is being able to quickly communicate to management and for management to give acknowledgment and feedback directly to the worker through multiple means. When this includes face-to-face feedback and acknowledgement in real-time on the workers' mobile devices, it sends a powerful message. When your employees feel as though they have been acknowledged and have a hand in safety improvements, they are more likely to take ownership. There is no doubt that employee ownership is what leads to a mindset of continuous improvement and contributes to long-term safety success.

Get it right, from the start

If contractors want your employees to be active and engaged, it all starts on day one. Studies show that 28% of new employees quit before 90 days, which causes a huge negative impact on the bottom line. A large reason for this revolves around employee onboarding and training. Unfortunately, many companies don’t value onboarding as a critical part of employee success and engagement. Workers may start on jobs with minimal training, creating risk when they may not have enough prior experience to complete the job. When workers don’t receive proper training, it gives the employee a poor impression of the company and their potential trajectory, and it makes them feel unappreciated and unimportant.

Make sure new hires know the company’s mission, values and guiding principles. Integrating these into onboarding and training processes and reiterate them consistently. When employees know what a company stands for, they’re much more likely to be more engaged and productive.

Implementing tools that are easy to learn and use, and giving employees access in real-time to their peers and managers is crucial. From keeping employees safe and working for a company for years to come, implementing a technology solution has significant benefits. The right solutions will help contractors engage their workforce and create loyal employees who are more productive, effective and efficient.

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