5 Ways to Engage Your Non-Deskbound Employees More Effectively

5 Ways to Engage Your Non-Deskbound Employees More Effectively

For many of us, sitting in front of a computer all day with access to everything we need is not something we think too much about. See an email notification pop up? Let’s check that out now. Wondering about the deadline for health insurance open enrollment? You’re just a click away from all the information you need on your company’s intranet. Have a nagging and desperate need to recall the name of the fifth member of New Kids on the Block? Time to fire up the Google machine.

But what about non-deskbound employees who are out in the field or on the open road with limited to no computer access? This can include those who work as healthcare providers, in skilled trades, transportation workers, sales associates, manufacturing workers and more. For these employees, easy access to a computer is not always a part of the job description.

This creates a unique challenge for internal communicators: how do you reach those who are not always easily reachable? Ideally, in a few different ways. Each situation is different, and you’ll want to come up with the best formula for your organization.

Here are a few tried-and-true tactics you can consider implementing:

1. Printed Internal Newsletters

Providing effective communication to non-deskbound employees is one of the good reasons to have an internal newsletter. When done properly, an internal newsletter serves as a trusted and regular source of information for your company. While deskbound employees typically access internal communications via email, providing a printed copy of the newsletter may provide easier access for non-deskbound employees. Printed newsletters can be shared in breakrooms, placed in mailboxes, or used as a reference by managers during stand-up meetings.

One important consideration when providing a printed version of your internal newsletter is to ensure any calls to action or links to additional information are easily accessible. After all, an employee can’t click on a link to learn more in a printed piece. But by providing a print-friendly version of the newsletter with QR codes or shortened links, your employees will be able to more easily access the resource at a later time.

As always with newsletters, finding the right balance of need-to-know information and engaging content, such as employee recognition and company events, is important. When possible, try to include photos of your employees, as this can help draw more attention to your content. Creating a regular schedule for distribution is also crucial. Consistency is key—by providing employees with regular and informative information, you’ll build trust and readership.

2. Digital Bulletin Boards

Digital bulletin boards are a great way to provide dynamic, up-to-date information in a range of formats. They can be placed almost anywhere, from break rooms to cafeterias and even on some manufacturing floors. Potential content ideas for a digital bulletin board include:

  • Highlights from the latest newsletter (with direction on how to learn more)
  • Employee spotlights and recognition (don’t forget photos!)
  • Video messages from leadership
  • Reminders about training or new safety requirements
  • Updates from your HR or IT team
  • Corporate holiday messages

Digital bulletin boards can also be great tools for quickly relaying time-sensitive information to non-deskbound employees in the event of an emergency—whether that be a severe weather warning, shelter in place order or even a missing patient in a hospital setting. Digital boards give communicators the ability to very quickly alert employees to such emergencies and also relay information on where to go and what to do to remain safe.

However, there are certain limitations to the usage of digital bulletin boards. Often, these digital screens utilize a carousel style, moving through different screens every few seconds. With this in mind, it’s important to keep your content brief and to the point—a few bullet points to each screen. This will allow employees to quickly scan what’s on the board before it moves on to the next screen. Content should also be updated regularly. If employees see the same content week after week, chances are they’ll stop paying attention. Finally, like all technology, digital screens can break down. Walk through your facility on a regular basis to ensure all screens are functioning properly.

3. Breakroom Signage

Employee breakrooms are an ideal location for sharing important employee communications. In fact, this may be the only time that many employees have to catch up on news and notifications. Higher-level information can be easily shared through table tents, breakroom posters or printed copies of an internal newsletter. While this type of signage is often used to complement digital messaging, it can be especially helpful if your organization doesn’t use digital boards for relaying information.

The most important thing to consider with breakroom signage is brevity. While on their breaks, employees may not have time to do heavy reading—but an eye-catching headline followed by brief, easy-to-read text and a clear call to action will get the important points across, alerting employees to important work-related news and updates.

4. Mobile Apps

When an employee does not have regular access to a computer while on the job, having the ability to download a company’s mobile app can help keep them in the loop. Ideally, the app will provide quick and easy access to pertinent company information, including important updates from leadership, reminders about deadlines, easy access to benefits information and even quick links to time reporting.

When selecting a mobile app, make sure the solution you choose is mobile-first—not just a website that’s technically accessible on a smartphone if you turn your phone on the side and wait for it to load. Mobile apps should ideally also have a push notification feature, allowing you to quickly notify workers of important news and updates.

In certain professions, such as healthcare settings in particular, any mobile app or other software downloaded onto a mobile device may require specific security features to meet patient privacy requirements. Be sure to coordinate closely with your IT department to ensure all of these requirements are met.

5. Manager Meetings

Not all communication needs to be complicated or high-tech. Sometimes, a simple conversation can do the trick. Regular manager or stand-up meetings provide a prime opportunity for managers to inform their employees of the latest company news.

Typically, managers have easier access to computers, email and intranet than individuals working in the field or on the floor. Providing a communications training session for managers is a useful way to teach them how to better communicate with their teams. This session could include an overview of internal communication platforms provided by your company, such as newsletters or intranets, and recommendations for how often to review these resources in order to keep their teams updated.

Another approach is to send a print-ready copy of the internal newsletter to all managers with a reminder to share it during their next team meeting. Always ask for feedback. For instance, was there a specific question from a team member based on a newsletter update? Do team members tend to ask for different information you aren’t currently providing? This type of feedback is incredibly useful, and acting on it will help your team to both build better communications platforms and increase trust within your company by demonstrating that you heard employees’ concerns and acted on them.

Here’s the Bottom Line

While many of us often take instantaneous, digital access to anything we could possibly need for granted, there is a significant population of workers who do not have ready access to these tools but still need to know what’s going on within their workplaces. Based on the specific industry you serve or other needs within your company, some or all of these options may be a good fit.

And, in case you were wondering—that fifth member of NKOTB was Jon.

Now, go ahead and print this article out to share with your colleagues! Or email it. Whichever works best for your team.

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About The Author

As an account manager, Erin provides day-to-day management for our agency’s B2B, professional services, corporate and non-profit clients. A strategic planner with a passion for storytelling, Erin has a strong background in internal communications, PR, social media and event management.