Nick Watt
Nick Watt 12 September 2023

Bridging the Digital Divide: The Next Frontier in Employee Communication

While marketers are seamlessly connected to the world of work via our computers and mobile phones, some 80% of the global workforce operates outside the confines of a traditional desk.

As businesses grapple with the challenges of the communication divide, innovative solutions are emerging to improve employee engagement.

Enter ScreenCloud, a software-first, hardware-agnostic digital signage solution, that bridges the communication gap by providing digital signage that businesses can use to communicate with their deskless workforce. The solution not only helps improve employee engagement but also increases productivity and retention for its 9000 clients. 

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Luke Farrugia, The VP of marketing at ScreenCloud, who started by outlining the challenges businesses with non-office-based employees face.

With a large percentage of the workforce operating outside of traditional desk settings, it’s a surprise that even within enterprise businesses, these employees still rely on notice boards, printed material or even word-of-mouth for internal communications.

Although increasingly organisations are sharing employee information via digital channels, the frontline workforce rarely has access to the basics, like email, while at work. This puts essential information, including job opportunities, key productivity updates and health and safety advice, out of their reach.

We aim to enable deskless employees to feel engaged, valued, and part of the team.

How have internal communications evolved within organisations, and what challenges persist in reaching these deskless employees?

Historically, businesses have prioritised customer communication over their employees, often treating the latter as an afterthought or integrating it into other business functions.

Typically, internal communications fall under the umbrella of HR, but increasingly this involves input from marketing, due to their expertise in developing and delivering customer-facing communications.

Although organisations have started to adopt new strategies in their employee communications, they don’t work for everyone in the business.

The COVID pandemic brought about significant changes in work practices for office-based workers, with many companies adopting hybrid working practices as the norm and using a plethora of tools to manage and engage staff. However, for non-office workers, change has been slow to arrive.

Does the current vogue for the ‘consumerization of HR’, where social, mobile, and consumer-style experiences are used to engage employees, apply to deskless workers?

Despite investments in the latest 4.0 industry technologies that use big data, robotics, and automation on the production line or in warehouses, many companies still rely on traditional methods, such as noticeboards, to communicate with their frontline workers.

However, these methods can lead to misinformation and miscommunication. Employing tools such as email, text messages, or a company intranet won't work for employees on a factory floor who typically can’t access computers or mobile devices while at work.

We're reinventing the role of digital signage as the primary communication medium for those deskless workers. By understanding how these employees engage with workplace information, we can support companies in creating screen-based messaging and content that delivers a highly effective employee experience.

What types of information can you distribute via digital signage to your workforce?

We break down the content into three main categories.

The first pillar focuses on employee engagement. Sharing content that recognises and celebrates employees, supports well-being and retention, and improves the overall employee experience.

It can help reduce churn rate, increase Net Promoter Score (a customer experience metric that measures loyalty and is predictive of business growth), and improve mental and physical well-being.

The second content pillar is productivity—business data to drive higher performance in roles across the frontline. Productivity is essential for all organisations, especially those reliant on production lines or supply chains.

The final pillar is operational efficiency, which involves clearly communicating day-to-day tasks that promote compliance. This will include health and safety messages; but could also include weather and traffic warnings if our client is in the logistics or transportation business.

How do you ensure you deliver the right content to the right people at the right time?

Our screen-based solution allows our clients to easily integrate with their existing business systems and HR apps, and seamlessly manage and publish content to thousands of workers in different parts of their organisations.

For example, our client BASF has deskless employees at over 100 locations globally, with some of their team working in the field, giving them limited access to email. Using ScreenCloud’s cloud-based platform, companies can avoid displaying conflicting information on multiple devices and provide information in environments best suited to engage staff.

When it comes to employee engagement, our clients have found that the break room is ideal for displaying information about benefits, job opportunities, and other related topics. This environment also allows employees to engage with the information and interact with it in a way that is more conducive to meeting their needs.

Is changing company culture key to the adoption of screen-based employee communications?

Increasingly, we are realising that change management and people management are as important as technology. The screens are simply an enabler. It empowers you to communicate more effectively.

Incorporating employee input is also crucial to implementation. You need to ensure their voices are heard. Simply pushing information from the head office onto screens without any consultation is unlikely to deliver effective communication or people management.

They can meet their employee KPIs by putting their workers at the centre of their communication strategy and learning from them.

This is the second in a series of articles from the Digital Doughnut team. Check out our interview with Co-founder and CCO of Dragonfly AI, Mark Bainbridge, about AI’s potential role in marketers' lives, here.

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