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ASCM Insights

Empower Frontline Workers with Digital Communication

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COVID-19 has shown organizations that their frontline workers are key to keeping the business moving. Moreover, their participation, support and engagement are necessary for the global supply chain to regain momentum. To achieve these goals, frontline workers must have a reliable, secure, real-time way to receive company information about operations, business practices and safety policies.

Digital tools can enable quick communication with employees both on- and off-site to keep everyone informed. Mobile-friendly digital workplaces create a singular location where employees can go to

  • check shift schedules
  • review new policies and guidelines contained in a secure document library
  • complete online training modules
  • receive notifications their employers.

One aviation company that has been operating throughout the pandemic opted to use a digital workplace platform to share with employees its updated safety guidelines about wearing masks. The platform also enabled company leaders to quickly and efficiently send employees reminders each day to bring their masks with them to work. At one point, the CEO used the platform to instantly send a critical announcement to everyone at the exact same time.

Traditionally, internal communication has been a function of the human resources department. Some of the more technological means of sending updates, such as through email or intranet systems, often did not reach frontline workers efficiently. Similarly, bulletin boards and newsletters might not be seen by everyone in a timely manner — if at all. Instead, a mobile-friendly digital workplace platform puts important information within reach of everyone.

Furthermore, when companies use a single platform, there are no more information silos. Everyone has access to the information they need and can collaborate to better support company operations.

Callback communications

Telford, Pa.-based IRP Meat and Seafood Co.’s business took a hit earlier this year when restaurants and hospitality groups closed or reduced operations. When demand for the company’s products and services dropped dramatically overnight, management was forced to furlough a portion of the frontline production employees.

Shortly thereafter, however, IRP was able to pivot and recoup its losses by picking up local grocery store customers, which enabled the company to bring back most of the furloughed staff. Leaders also used a digital workplace platform to easily communicate and share resources with the furloughed employees.

Learning through listening

Digital workplaces also can help frontline workers during their shifts. As priorities and practices change, operations can slow down as employees pause to search for answers and figure out what to do next. When workers can access new policies and guides from a secure document library, they are able to quickly find the information they need and adapt to new practices.  

In addition, these platforms support operational communication. This is real-time, traceable, two-way communication that truly engages with and considers the needs of frontline employees. Operational communication opens a dialogue and leads to better operations, more efficient processes and a safer working environment.

The institutional knowledge of frontline employees is perhaps one of the most important data sources in any organization, as these workers have the most valuable insights into daily operations. When companies solicit regular feedback, data and other knowledge from frontline workers, they can use this information to make improvements.

Furthermore, when employees have an established communication channel for sharing feedback and voicing concerns, workers have more confidence in their company. Then, when operations and policies shift in response to worker concerns, employee morale grows because workers know that they are being heard.

Powered to grow

The intersection of technology, people management and communication will be essential to carrying the industry through the crisis and beyond. Even when the pandemic is behind us, virtual environments can be a low-risk way to prepare frontline employees for whatever may come their way next. Furthermore, immersive experiences enable workers to develop better problem-solving skills when faced with high-pressure situations, greatly reduce risk and build supply chain resilience.

About the Author

Daniel Sztutwojner Chief Customer Officer and Co-Founder , Beekeeper

Daniel Sztutwojner is chief customer officer and co-founder of Beekeeper, which offers a mobile-friendly communications platform for frontline workers.

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