Reaching the Unreachable: Proven Best Practices for Engaging Deskless Workers

October 11, 2023

In a recent post, I explained why the deskless worker is one of our most important and yet most often neglected audiences. Once you’ve helped your organization understand your deskless audience – who they are and what their needs, challenges and preferences are – it’s time to build a targeted, highly personalized communications approach.

When it comes to communicating with deskless workers, don’t try to reinvent the wheel! Instead, look around and consider some tried-and-true best practices.  

#1: Think beyond operational communications

Too often, communications targeting deskless workers are highly operational – production targets, safety stats or other need-to-know data points. But it is SO important to think beyond these operational communications. Too often deskless workers are left out of conversations about the organization’s mission, vision and values, even though they are often the ones delivering on those promises directly to customers.

👉 BOTTOM LINE: As you’re crafting communications campaigns, consider how you can emphasize and reinforce your deskless segments’ larger value to the organization.  

#2: Emphasize equitable growth opportunities

Across all types of deskless roles and geographies, one study found that one of the most consistent reasons why deskless workers are unhappy is a perceived lack of development opportunities. Too often, growth and development is overlooked as a strategy for driving worker engagement. This is a great opportunity to partner with colleagues in HR to make career growth a central component of your communications strategy.  

💡 PRO TIP: Think about your deskless worker personas – what are their hopes and dreams? What kinds of training and career development skills can you provide that go beyond function-specific skill building? Can you share stories of individuals who have risen through the ranks of deskless workers?

Check out a blog post on the secret ingredient to engaging a remote team

#3: Activate your managers

Without exception, managers are the No. 1 most reliable and effective way to reach deskless workers – and I don’t often make pronouncements like that! As a consultant, when people ask me for the most effective communications strategies, you know my favorite answer is usually “it depends” – but this is an absolute.  

You MUST focus on managers as the key way to engage your deskless workers. And if you’re going to be tapping into managers, you must equip them for the job. This may mean crafting manager-specific training about the importance of communicating with deskless workers, and emphasizing the role managers play in improving employees’ experiences at work, their productivity, retention and overall wellbeing.  

If you haven’t already, consider manager-specific channels that highlight your expectations and important topics, messages and action items for managers. Better yet, empower them with the ability to deliver messages in the context of other conversations they’re already having with workers. For example, if you know line managers lead a daily huddle, provide them with tools and templates to foster dialogue around key topics.

👉 BOTTOM LINE: As communicators, make sure you are serving as a reliable support system for managers. Nothing deserves more of your attention and resources.

Learn five essential strategies for building strong managers in this blog post

#4: Meet your deskless workers where they are

Use your personas and existing channels to reach deskless workers where they are. Again, this is where your employee personas are so important – think about where your persona works, the flow of their day and opportunities for touchpoints. In deskless environments, signage and digital screens are crucial. Don’t underestimate opportunities to use the physical space surrounding employees to emphasize key messages.  

If your population is largely on-the-go, like drivers or field sales reps, podcasts can also be a great way to deliver key content.  

Remember the old adage that people must hear a message seven times before it resonates? Well, with an on-the-go workforce, I’d argue it takes more like 10 times, so don’t just think about one or two channels – think about how you can tap into ALL channels to communicate and reiterate key messages over and over.  

Learn more about how to build employee personas in this white paper

Let’s do this!

Nobody is better suited to help your organization effectively reach and engage deskless workers. By starting with a comprehensive listening strategy, building research-backed personas, and crafting a communications strategy personalized for this complex audience, you’re well on your way!

And of course, if you need an expert to help you along the way, reach out and let’s chat! We’re here for you. For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, The Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest! 

Ann Melinger

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