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5 of the best ways to retain your deskless employees

Your employees are your Everyday Heroes. They’re your difference-makers, so it’s vital you keep hold of them – but, especially when they work in ‘deskless’ roles, they can be difficult to reach and engage.

They might be working in far-flung corners of the world, hundreds or even thousands of miles from a head office they’ll never set foot in. How do you get them to feel a connection with your organisation, to buy into the culture and be part of the journey?

Here are five of the best ways to retain your deskless employees.

Communicate a clear mission and vision

Deskless workers face challenges far removed from the experience of traditional office employees. The dispersed nature of their work means they can face a lack of internal communications, making it harder for them to stay connected with their managers and keep up to date with the latest information you want them to have.

To counteract this risk, it helps if you’ve already crafted a really compelling mission and vision for your business. Your next step then has to be making sure your deskless workers feel connected to this.

When people feel passionate because they’re doing something that’s useful and worthwhile, they’re more intrinsically motivated to perform at their very best. Apple is a good example: It sends daily, motivational video messages from its C-Suite to everyone in its manufacturing and retail operations.

Seeing or hearing managers or executives impassioned, positive and enthusiastic about the purpose of the business helps everyone else feel the same.

Provide better technology

The tools you provide your deskless workers with have an immeasurable impact on their ability to do their jobs and provide a consistently high quality of service. Slow, outdated technologies that interrupt natural workflows act as a barrier to productivity and can leave people feeling frustrated.

For a workforce constantly on the go, having to sit down at a desktop computer and use clunky legacy systems is a significant barrier. Mobile tools are better suited by far to the nature of frontline work, and enable people to complete tasks quickly and effectively – whether they’re on the shop floor or out in the field.

And the message you’re sending your deskless workers isn’t the only thing that counts – it’s also how you do it. If you give them the mobile tools for the job, you’re intrinsically saying you see them as just as valuable as your office employees, and that it’s your intent to give them the same information to do their jobs.

Boots Opticians, for example, has taken great strides to improve communications and collaboration for nearly 6,000 team members throughout the UK, creating a culture of relentless customer care.

Empower with information and training

Just as important is your philosophy about who should have what information across your business, and why. Without ongoing access to information, resources and opportunities to upskill, deskless workers are more likely to become disengaged in their work and feel less motivated to perform.

The very best employers want everyone working for them to know what’s going on across the company, and how they can learn and improve their job performance for themselves. They’re taking getting information and learning opportunities to people very seriously indeed.

During the pandemic, Barchester Healthcare rapidly trained more than 650 volunteers by converting all face-to-face learning and competency assessment to e-learning and e-enabled induction to be completed prior to joining – enabling faster onboarding and job starts.

Recognise your workers

Recognition is a form of extrinsic motivation – that is, motivation driven by external factors like praise or reward – and it’s a cornerstone of employee motivation. Providing attention in a personal way builds emotional bonds between you and your people.

The best way to do this for your deskless workers is through employee recognition schemes. Set a standard so your people know what’s required to achieve recognition, then embed that standard.

Let people recognise each other, too, so the flow isn’t all one way. The more your people see you doing this, the more motivated they’ll be to replicate these recognition gaining actions.

This doesn’t have to get complicated. Here are some of the ways you can recognise and thank your deskless workers:

  • Physical or virtual thank-you or well-done cards.
  • Companywide or team-specific acknowledgement emails.
  • Flash cards or video messages in tools like eduMe.
  • Recognition and rewards software like bonus.ly.
  • Public praise on social media.
  • Employee of the week or ‘wall of fame’ initiatives.
  • Badges or in-app visuals that signify milestones made or achievements unlocked.
  • A simple verbal ‘thank you’ done sincerely and authentically.

The Co-op is a good example: It created a bespoke online reward and recognition solution that was easily accessible to the entire workforce, ensuring all long service milestones were celebrated and that commitment was rewarded by managers.

Seek feedback

Anything you’re doing to attract and retain your deskless employees needs validation. You should be seeking feedback on all your initiatives in real time by using survey and pulse tools tailored to your circumstances.

There’s nobody that seeking feedback fails to benefit. By asking things like “how do you feel?”, “what can we improve?”, “how helpful was lesson x on y?”, or “what should we cover next?”, you can get a window into your workforce’s soul.

By proactively seeking feedback – rather than just directing deskless workers to either support lines or emails, which will more likely fuel rather than resolve any agitation – you’re saying, “we hear you and we value you”. Executing this doesn’t have to be a huge resource or time drain.

Want to know more about the best ways to reach and engage every single one of your Everyday Heroes? Fill in the form below and we’ll set you up with a personalised demo – and show you how you can keep your finger on the pulse of what your deskless employees are thinking and feeling.

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