Q&A: The psychology of employee communication

Q&A: The psychology of employee communication

As a digital employee communication platform, our mission is to ensure that all employees have knowledge to be inspired to do great work every day. But why, exactly is access to information so important? Today, we’re talking to Dr. Wendi Adair, Professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Adair is also the director of the Culture at Work Lab at the University of Waterloo, and is the co-founder of icEdge, a communication assessment and empowerment tool for organizational development.

We sat down with Dr. Adair to learn about the psychology of employee communication, what uncertainty does to deskless and frontline employee well-being, how we can boost retention, and why more information makes employees do better. 

What does information – or a lack of information – do to a person’s mental and emotional well-being? 

Wendi Adair: Information is power. If you have information, it makes you feel capable and able to do what you need to do. It makes you feel able to help other employees. And that gives you a sense of well-being. We talk about it as power, but it’s really feelings of capability and competence and confidence. 

And then on the flip side is when you don’t have enough information. So maybe there’s something about your role that’s ambiguous. You don’t know exactly how you’re supposed to go about doing a certain procedure or task. Or maybe you have role conflicts – you have different supervisors asking you to attend to different things and you haven’t been given clear instructions on how to prioritize. That lack of information leads to feelings of uncertainty. Which leads to stress, and would decrease employees’ psychological well-being.

There are a lot of theories on this – like the AUM Anxiety and Uncertainty Management theory – that explore how we are motivated as humans to feel like we have a good sense of what’s going on. A lot of what our brain is doing is trying to figure out what’s going on around us and find ways to feel like we have a sense of control. Not that we can necessarily control everything around us, but we want to know what to expect. So when there are feelings of uncertainty or ambiguity, we’re motivated to reduce those feelings.

When we’re not getting enough information, when that uncertainty kicks in, what exactly is happening to our brains? 

If you’re experiencing uncertainty, that is going to create a stress response. That can be anything from minor impacts, like your heart’s beating a little bit faster, or your palms are getting a little sweaty, to a more serious sort of panicky, fight-flight kind of stress response. And employees who are chronically feeling uncertainty at work could be experiencing chronic stress, and we know that chronic stress over a long time has massive impacts on psychological as well as physical health.

In unprecedented times like these, should organizations share what little information they have, or should they wait until they have more info?

It’s always better to give more information. Which, you know, if it’s a big corporation, definitely makes people nervous because they don’t want to put anything into writing until they know for sure. 

But I would say that any kind of a message is valuable. Even just noting awareness of the instabilities we’re currently facing, and that the organization is committed to figuring out the best way that they can manage and maintain their employees’ well-being. It doesn’t have to be really specific. Just reaching out and making that connection actually can go a long way.

How can organizations improve the overall effectiveness of their employee communication? 

So what we say when we’re teaching effective communication in the workplace is that clarity is really important. Try to keep it as concise as possible. 

And then respect – there’s got to be that interpersonal element to it. So whatever the message is, start with some kind of little greeting. Those are the little things that in corporate communication people aren’t going to do naturally because it’s all about the message, it’s about the task, it’s not about the socio-emotional connection. But the socio-emotional connection is what helps employees connect with an organization and foster loyalty and commitment.

We’ve known for decades that it’s not just about, you know, how many widgets you make. It’s about creating a good work experience; it is about humanizing it. So there’s got to be attention to that interpersonal respect. We call it socio-emotional communication. 

What can organizations do to boost retention on some of the information they’re sharing? 

From the cognitive side, there really is no such thing as multitasking. Unless it’s a totally automatic cognitive process like walking, anything else that demands our attention, we can only attend to one thing at a time. So what that says for organizations is that it’s important to make time for employees to have opportunities to communicate and get information and ask questions and get feedback. It’s not going to be as effective if they’re getting a massive update that they’re supposed to read while they’re doing their job. It’s going to be more effective if they are allowed, permitted, encouraged to take time to read and absorb. 

What about feedback? How can it mitigate – or compound – these feelings of uncertainty for deskless and frontline workers? 

Everyone wants to feel heard, and feel like they are connected to others. So in a grocery store or restaurant, people are going to be interacting regularly. But in, say, a car factory where the distance between people on the line can be half a block long, you might not have that sort of interpersonal connection as part of your daily work routine. And people need that. People need that and want that. They want to feel heard and they want to know that they’ve not only been heard but they were understood.  

In industrial organizational psychology, we talk about psychological safety. That is when employees feel that they are secure enough in their job, their work environment, and with their colleagues at work that they can speak up if they think something could be done differently or if they have dissatisfaction about something. That sense of psychological safety, that their voice is valued and they’re not going to be punished for saying something…that is something that all organizations should foster. And that has a lot to do with leadership, organizational culture and, of course, communication.

It’s also really important to make sure employees know what the norms are for both receiving feedback and giving feedback. What is appropriate if they get a message and they want to give some feedback? Do they just send a message to their direct supervisor? Do they reply to all 100,000 employees that got the message?

If the channels – if the processes and the channels are made clear, then the communication can happen. But when people don’t know, that’s just feeding more into the uncertainty, and then they’re not going to ask questions and they’re not going to give or seek feedback. And that’s when there’s going to be a disconnect.

Why does more information make employees do better? 

There’s this thing in psychology that we call the common knowledge effect. Basically anytime you get people together, and a communication has been sent out, people start talking about it. And what they do is they share information that others have already shared. 

So the example that often comes up in research is solving a murder mystery. You have a group of people, and everyone gets a different set of information, and then they come together and they have to solve a case. And what happens is someone will share some information. Well I heard that John was not even near the scene of the crime on Saturday night. And then, Oh yeah, I have that information too. John was nowhere near the scene of the crime. Then, Oh yeah. I have information that John was with his children that night or whatever. People tend to narrow their conversation to focus on information that they have in common – even though we know that in terms of making good decisions, solving problems, coming up with creative solutions or innovations, it’s the unique information that is key. 

There are lots of reasons that people don’t share unique information. One is that everyone is rushing and you don’t want to be the person who raises your hand. There’s also pressure for conformity. You want to agree with what everyone else is saying. You don’t want to be the person who stands out or thinks differently. And then we have, especially in a group setting, trying to reach a course of action. We know it’s going to be hard to reach consensus so we want to just kind of move towards that. We don’t want to keep bringing up pieces of information that might derail the path to the decision.

And so what the common knowledge effect means in a workplace setting is that if there’s a piece of information that one employee has that could lead to some sort of a better way of doing something, or could alert someone to something bad that’s going to happen down the road…that information is unlikely to be shared, unless there are procedures in place to encourage it. Town halls, forums, discussion boards, surveys – places where the organization overtly encourages employees to share. Then you might get that information. It’s related to psychological safety, too – people speaking up. But you need to kind of have that channel in place, otherwise it just won’t happen.

Thanks to Dr. Adair for her insights on employee communication! For more on her work, check out the Culture at Work Lab at the University of Waterloo and icEdge.

7 signs you have internal communication problems

7 signs you have internal communication problems

Whether or not you have a formal internal communication strategy in place, the way you share information with your employees can have a huge impact on your bottom line – for better or for worse. And, unfortunately, communication problems are all too common. 

We can hear you now: oh we don’t have a problem with our internal communication! We share plenty of memos! Our managers share every email we send! We have posters up at every location! 

Here’s the thing: internal communication is about quality, not quantity. It’s about choosing the right communication channels, sharing the right info at the right time, and creating organic opportunities for feedback and idea sharing. With that in mind, there’s a solid chance you might be dealing with some broken communication, and not even know it. 

Don’t believe us? See how many of these symptoms your organization is showing. 

Here are seven signs you have internal communication problems: 

1. Your employees are disengaged (or quitting)

Morale has taken a hit. Productivity has come to a standstill. You’re hemorrhaging money from an employee turnover rate that’s even higher than usual. You’re thinking it’s just the market, or maybe your managers are to blame. But the problem is likely a bit more rooted in your workforce’s basic needs. 

What it’s a sign of: Your employees don’t have a sense of the company’s direction and larger purpose, and that leads to disengagement and low morale – which, over time, leads to turnover. Long past are the days when organizations believed that if they paid their employees enough, they’d get hard-working happy employees that were willing to put up with anything. 

Now, employees are looking for so much more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for a greater purpose, a way to contribute to a larger goal…in short, they’re looking for information. Fast Company put it best in a recent article by branding guru MaryLee Sachs: “Increasingly, employees are more interested in a clear alignment and understanding of a company’s culture and values than they are in benefits like flexible working, training, access to tech, and even bigger paychecks.” 

2. No one knows anything

You’re mobilizing on a nationwide promotion, but you’ve just discovered that half your locations have no idea what they’re supposed to be telling customers. Or you find out that 75% of your front desk staff aren’t even mentioning your loyalty program. Or a client informs you that your team isn’t following the new sustainable cleaning techniques you shared last week. You get the idea – you have info that needs to be shared, and it’s not getting to the right people. 

What it’s a sign of: This can be a sign of two things. First, it can be a sign that info isn’t successfully making its way all the way down from head office to every single employee. The barrier could be a bottleneck, like an overworked manager that doesn’t have time to share each email the organization shares, or it could be a problem with the communication channels.

This can also be a sign that employees are getting your communications, but not reading them. Why? They’re too long, too confusing, sent too often or at the wrong time – or sent to the wrong place (more on that later). 

3. Everything is top-down

What does your internal communication look like? Maybe a monthly update sent to all stores? A weekly overview of new promotions taking place? Maybe communication stops at the frontline manager? Maybe, if you’re really keen, quarterly performance reviews? 

…See anything missing from this picture? 

What it’s a sign of: Your internal communication strategy lacks an upward feedback component. And that’s a communication problem. Upward feedback is closely linked to performance; one Salesforce report found that employees that feel heard were 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. But also a lack of upward feedback means you’re missing out on great ideas from your frontline workers. Without any kind of forum or feedback among your communication channels, you’ve got a serious gap in your internal communication strategy. 

4. Customers or guests are complaining (or worse – leaving)

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: better customer experience starts with better employee experience. So it’s no surprise that a problem with your customer or guest experience should set off alarm bells. 

What it’s a sign of: If your customers or guests aren’t happy, it means there’s a problem with your CX. And most often, that problem lies in your employees not having access to the information they need to create an amazing experience. 

As organizations explore the relationship between their in-person and online experiences, this becomes more important than ever. Your customers are coming in-store armed with more information than ever before. Because of that, your employees need to be educated with more information, otherwise there’s a disconnect, and a broken experience. 

5. Your internal communications can only be read…when they’re not at work

Your latest internal communication goes out at 9 a.m. Maybe it goes up on your intranet site. Maybe you have a list of emails for every worker in your organization (here’s hoping it’s up to date! 🤞) and you send it out. Here’s the thing: your employees aren’t going to see it right away. In fact, they’re likely not even going to see it when they’re at work. If at all, they’ll likely read it once they’re finished their shift, and are much less likely to engage in any intel you’re sharing. 

What it’s a sign of: Your communication channels aren’t relevant to the deskless workforce. Organizations often make the mistake of using the same communication channels they use for their corporate or desked employees – but deskless and frontline workers need a very different approach. 

After all, what if you need to tweak a merchandising plan? Or adapt on the fly to changing safety precautions? Now more than ever, being able to share info in real time with your frontline employees is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Our recommendation is to send communications where they already are: their phones. Worried that a bring-your-own-device policy will distract employees rather than engage? Our BYOD primer found that it actually boosted performance: organizations using associate-facing mobile solutions saw customer satisfaction increase by a whopping 58%. 

6. Your most crucial info is in different places

Quick: what’s your SOP for disinfecting high-traffic areas? Where are the new opening guidelines? Where do you keep your brand values? Information shouldn’t be a treasure hunt. If you had various answers for where all these pieces of information are, you’ve got a communication problem. 

What it’s a sign of: Your employees aren’t empowered to use information quickly and efficiently to react and adapt to changing situations. After all, if your workers can’t find crucial information as soon as they need it, they don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs. 

This can also be a major communication challenge as hiring starts to ramp up and your teams are onboarding many new employees – without all your information in one place, onboarding becomes time-consuming for your teams, and overwhelming for the new hires. 

And finally, a lack of central information also means employees are less likely to follow standard procedures and tasks lists when going through their day. Without a central hub of information outlining how each process should be completed, your teams are all going rogue with their own version of the process. That can lead to inefficiencies – and safety concerns.  

7. There’s no way for your teams to talk

Picture this: one of your midwest locations comes up with a fantastic way to boost loyalty program sign-ups. Or a team switches up the upsell display at cash and sees a 10% boost in sales. These are fantastic ideas that other teams could try – if they knew about them. 

What it’s a sign of: This is a symptom of several serious issues. First, you’re missing out on great ideas and best practice-sharing coming from your teams. Or if your teams are finding ad hoc ways to share ideas (like sharing on social media or simply texting), you’re missing out on a way to scale the best ideas at an organizational level, because the communication is happening where you can’t see it.

But idea sharing aside, there’s another issue here: without a way for your teams across the organization to connect, there’s a lack of employee community that could have huge impacts on morale and engagement. 

One final thought: if you’re reading through this list, and your first thought is hmm…I have no idea if we are showing these symptoms! That’s a warning sign too. Without a proper communications platform in place, it’s all the more difficult for head office to identify these problems in the first place. The first step in fixing your internal communication strategy is to start noticing the issues your teams are dealing with – from there, you can start to address them (hopefully with Nudge’s help! 😉 ). 

Q&A: Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild on corporate sustainability

Q&A: Nudge CEO Lindsey Goodchild on corporate sustainability

Corporate sustainability has a special place in Nudge’s heart. Fun fact: before Nudge became a digital communication platform for deskless employees, it was Greengage Mobile, a tool that helped companies share complex environmental initiatives with their frontline staff. We sat down with CEO Lindsey Goodchild to learn more about Nudge’s roots 🌱 – and get her advice on how organizations can work sustainability into their core brand purpose.

Where did the idea for Greengage Mobile come from? 

Lindsey: I started my career in consulting. I was working on a really cool project around sustainable tourism that involved big hotels, ski resorts, and restaurant chains to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their contributions to their local community, but in a way that created a big economic incentive for the organization. 

Nudge CEO Lindsey GoodchildWe needed to find ways to bring these strategic initiatives to life throughout the organization. In a hotel or resort where there’s thousands of employees and tons of different roles, it’s really hard to get everybody on the same page with this big change that’s happening, and what exactly they need to do to be a part of activating it. It was a huge challenge because those employees are non-desk, and didn’t have access to computers or emails, so the only way to really get the information to the frontline employee was to kind of cascade it down from HQ to regional directors or managers, down to the frontline. We found that the messages were getting lost and there wasn’t a lot of clarity and action on the things that needed to happen. 

I was trying to understand how to fix this broken communication so we could activate all these plans that we’d been building for two years. I was doing interviews with groups of frontline employees, and as I was presenting to them, they all had their phones under the table. I was like, your HQ is telling me there’s no way to digitally connect with the frontline, and here I am in this meeting and no one is listening to me because they’re all on their phones

So I thought, why don’t we meet this audience where they are – in a way that looks and feels like the other tools they use – to help them understand how they’re contributing to this bigger picture. 

So that led to Greengage Mobile. 

Yeah. I went to the organizations I worked with and pitched the idea of a mobile app. I got some initial funding, and I said, let’s do this. I wasn’t planning on being an entrepreneur, I wasn’t planning on starting a company, I just wanted to solve this problem that was so pervasive in my consulting career. So that’s how the whole thing really got started.

As founders, we – myself, Dessy Daskalov, and Jordan Ekers – were really aligned on the idea of bringing something new to the world that would make life better for our end users, and were aligned on supporting environmental and social issues along the way. Just think: in these massive corporations with tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of employees, if you get each of these employees taking one action, it makes a huge difference. 

How did Greengage Mobile evolve into Nudge? 

It happened organically. We started the company to help companies with focused initiatives around environmental and community impact. When we got it there, we saw such wild success with adoption and engagement. Our first customers said they never had a tool that allowed them to reach the frontline as effective as this – and it had such a virality to it. They were getting huge levels of adoption, really intense engagement that they’d never seen in other channels. So they started thinking, if this is our most effective way of reaching our team, what if we started putting other key initiatives through it? 

At the time, we weren’t sure if it was going to work. But it did – and it aligned us to the higher purpose of reaching this audience who previously hadn’t been able to be effectively reached. The dynamic nature of the app, combined with a huge transition over the last decade of digital natives taking over the workplace played really well into Nudge coming to life. 

Let’s talk a bit more about corporate sustainability.

I think some of the world’s best companies have sustainability at their core. Patagonia is one that I always point to, because I think that they’ve really shown what’s possible with a strong commitment to sustainability. When you look at the world of retail, they continue to be one of the most successful retail brands out there. So I think being a sustainable business and being a good business can go hand-in-hand if you do it right, and I would love to see all businesses make that shift. 

There’s been some pretty massive shifts around the recognition that climate change actually poses a huge threat to many companies (and all of humanity for that matter). With some of the changes of legislation around climate risk reporting, I think it’s really pushing the issue to the forefront. Now you’ve got companies that are doing it really, really well, because they know it’s good for their business, and then you’ve got other companies that are just trying to find their way through it for the first time. But I see a future where it becomes core to every company, because it’s core to how we survive on the planet. I think it’s going to take a multifaceted approach, with every stakeholder on this earth having a role to play in making sure that we’re creating a future that sustains us.

What are the challenges organizations face when trying to implement sustainability initiatives? 

Let’s flip it around. The companies doing it right – what are they doing? So take a company like Patagonia again. They have a really clear definition of who they are, what their value is, what their culture is around corporate responsibility and sustainability. Everybody that knows that brand, everyone who shops there or works there, really has that true alignment to that. I think it’s just been so clearly communicated and disseminated as to who they are, so everybody that’s there is on-board and is activating on what that brand promises. And I think that’s a very special thing to achieve. In a world where there’s a war for talent, having a purpose-driven company makes a really big difference. 

I think the lesson we can learn is to have a really clear definition of your brand purpose, what those associated values are, and find a way to have your team live those values. That’s where I think Nudge can play a really big role. We’re all about finding ways to connect and align the team to what a company stands for, whether it’s a sustainability initiative or introducing a new product. Nudge is all about making sure that everybody is aware and ready to act, and understands how their actions contribute to this larger goal. 

So a clear understanding of that initiative is crucial in helping teams to act on it. 

Exactly. At Nudge, we use a lot of nudge theory and behavior theory – that comes from my postgrad research around how to drive change in big organizations. And there’s a set of best practices of how you get people to do new things. The reason we built Nudge is to make it easy to help people take on these behaviors in little bite-sized pieces so it doesn’t feel like this big daunting shift. We make it easier for them to adopt the change, and really spend time helping them understand the whys. 

I think that’s especially important when it comes to programs around sustainability, because they really are those things that make a difference in the world and that feels good for people. It feels good to know that you’re being part of a solution.

What are some of the ways that organizations can implement that sustainable change?

When you have tens of thousands of employees and you get everybody taking an action toward whatever the goal is, that amounts to huge change. And I think that’s one of the things that Nudge does really well – it breaks it down to be a small thing for each person, but then it makes it easy to look at that collective impact. 

I think a lot of companies are doing many great things, but their teams just don’t know about them. So highlighting what the company’s already doing and also introducing fun new ideas is a great combination. When you have something as simple as encouraging employees to participate in Earth Hour, it’s so fun to hear from employees across the country – or across the globe – on what they’re doing. They’re posting pictures of playing games with their kids by candlelight, or taking walks with their friends in a new natural area they haven’t explored before. These connection points and sharing moments are essential for creating common ground and camaraderie – no matter the initiative at hand. 

That’s another thing that really excites me about Nudge – when we can create community and common ground between employees. Because that really enriches the employee experience. That’s one of the things that makes me really proud about what we do. 

What’s one tiny sustainable step that every company could take this year?

I speak a lot about the environment, because I’m really passionate about the environment. But companies could also look at their impact on the society or community they’re in. Sustainability could also mean looking at inclusion or diversity. It can mean so many things. And I think every company should find something that’s really core and true to their value as an organization, and really make it personal for every employee. Like, truly find a way to make it something that actually aligns with the culture and values of the organization. 

I think when that happens, that’s where you really get that compelling return of what they call the triple bottom line, where you’re making a positive impact on the environment, the community, and the economy. But just as importantly, I think it’s more about that connection that employees have to the brand and to each other. When you get that, you start to see benefits in many different ways. That’s where you get that truly meaningful impact. 

I think some of the issues that we face in this world seem really daunting. But when you’ve got tens of thousands of people taking one small action, the impact is huge. I think there’s just so much opportunity for us to just like do things together to make the world a better place.

What’s something that each person reading this can do to make the world a better place? 

Every person should be doing something that they care about – and make an effort to do something differently to create a better future for our planet. But that aside, my personal motto on this is “help the bees, trees, and seas.”  I like to help bees, our essential ecosystem pollinators, by planting wildflowers or other native plants that help support our local bee population. I am also a big fan of planting trees to both capture carbon and clean the air. And lastly, contributing to efforts to clean the seas by eliminating single-use plastics and reducing the toxic products that go down the drain. Bees, trees, and seas – excellent little diddy. 

 

The ROI of deskless employee communication

The ROI of deskless employee communication

The benefits of deskless employee communication run deep. Really deep. 

Keeping your deskless and frontline workers well-informed and well-trained goes way beyond safety and execution – it impacts your bottom line in many more ways than you’d think. So, without further ado, let’s talk ROI. 

Here are 7 benefits of communicating with your deskless employees.

1. Lower employee turnover

One of the most common challenges facing deskless and frontline organizations is employee turnover. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail and hospitality industries consistently have the highest “quit rate.” Depending on the industry, turnover rates can be as high as 300%. Yikes.  

And it goes without saying that high turnover can take a huge chunk out of your profits. One estimate puts the cost of losing a single retail employee at over $3000, while this research found the cost of losing a hospitality worker is between $3,000 and $13,000. 

There are several reasons frontline turnover is such an issue – and salary isn’t really top of the list. Frontline workers want a sense of purpose, clear information, and a company that listens – all of which has traditionally been lacking at frontline organizations, where communication can be somewhat of a broken telephone.

That lack of investment in the frontline employee experience is a mistake. In Harvard Business Review, Achyuta Adhvaryu, Teresa Molina, and Anant Nyshadham outlined their research on frontline worker turnover, where they found that being heard matters way more than wage hikes: “In a context where turnover is high and workers do not typically have many opportunities to communicate their concerns to management, providing workers with voice can be a simple yet powerful way to keep workers from quitting.” 

2. Less workplace accidents

Financially – and this is really a no-brainer – there are a number of reasons why you want to avoid workplace accidents among your frontline workers. There’s the medical and administrative expenses, and loss of labor, of course, but according to the National Safety Council, there’s also time lost by workers indirectly involved; cost of time to investigate and report on injuries; damage to work property and vehicles; and overall productivity loss. The council estimates the cost of workplace injuries in the U.S. to be over $170 billion a year. 

To put it another way, this study found that for every dollar an organization needs to spend on direct costs around workplace incidents (like the worker’s compensation claim), there’s another $2.12 spent on indirect costs (like work stoppages, fines, legal council, additional hires, and increased worker’s compensation premiums). However, the same study found that every dollar spent on improving workplace safety had an ROI of $4.41.

Enter employee communication. With a proper strategy in place (like bite-sized communications and quizzes sent straight to employees’ phones), safety training becomes an ongoing process that keeps deskless and frontline workers engaged and well-informed on protocols and daily tasks. 

3. Higher profitability 

Yes, deskless employee communication boosts engagement, but employee engagement isn’t just about happiness. Deskless workers armed with the right information are more engaged about their job – and more productive and profitable as a result. Gallup explains it best in their State of the American Worker report

“Organizations falter in creating a culture of engagement when they solely approach engagement as an exercise in making their employees feel happy . . . Organizations have more success with engagement and improve business performance when they treat employees as stakeholders of their future and the company’s future. They put the focus on concrete performance management activities, such as clarifying work expectations, getting people what they need to do their work, providing development, and promoting positive coworker relationships.”

In other words? To make more money, you need to give your frontline workers the information they need to make you more money. Take Golf Town: when the Canadian golf retailer started using our communications platform to share critical corporate messaging directly with its associates, and keep them up-to-date on product information and employee training, they saw an 8% boost in conversion across stores. 

4. Better CX and customer loyalty

Want happier customers and loyal guests? Of course you do. New customers are expensive, and repeat customers are more valuable. Back in 1990, Bain & Company startled executives by reporting that increasing customer retention rates by 5% could increase profits by 25% to 95% (HBR compared the numbers against e-commerce trends 10 years later with similar results). Today, the value of customer retention still can’t be overstated – and the cost of losing customers is a serious concern.

If there’s one thing Nudge COO Jordan Ekers wants to share with the world (he’s done it here and here, for starters), it’s this: better customer experience starts with better employee experience. 

“Brands that take care of their people will retain top performers, which will retain customers,” explains Ekers. “The most important relationship that exists for profitability is how brands treat their employees. Customers are not desiring a transaction, they are desiring a human interaction.”

While some industries (we’re looking at you, retail) have moved into an omnichannel approach, where brick-and-mortar and e-commerce sites work in tandem to provide the best possible customer experience, it’s crucial the organizations ensure that their deskless and frontline workers are keeping up – and a proper communication strategy is the solution. 

“Customers have access to so much information that they’re often walking into a location with more knowledge than an associate,” he says. “We as consumers have all experienced this. That is completely broken and causing a fundamental shift where brands are investing more in their people.”

5. Fewer costly mistakes… 

Yes, mistakes can be learning experiences. But especially in industries like retail, food service, and hospitality, mistakes can have a huge impact on customer loyalty and revenue – not to mention workplace safety. 

What makes it even more frustrating is how many mistakes are easily avoidable by standardizing tasks, and – you guessed it! – clearly communicating with your deskless workforce. That means sharing easily-digestible information and then finding ways to test retention and identify knowledge gaps on an ongoing basis. It also means leveraging upward feedback to hear directly from your frontline on what’s working – and what’s not – so you can keep processes as regulated as possible. 

6. …and more valuable ideas

Speaking of upward feedback, one of the most profitable benefits of deskless employee communication is that amazing ideas find their way from your workforce back up to head office – and to other locations. After all, if one location discovers an easy way to improve the customer or guest experience through a tweak in a display, or boosts sales through a simple upsell, wouldn’t you want the rest of the company to leverage that learning? 

There’s another benefit to sharing great ideas – and that’s employee engagement. We’ve already established that employees want to be heard, and that line of communication can be particularly fragmented in deskless industries, where there’s often no way for employees to communicate with head office. But when you find ways to connect your frontline with head office, and offer ways for your various locations to communicate, share ideas, and voice concerns, you’re opening the door to way more great ideas and best practices. 

7. Increased operational agility to change quickly 

Never before has operational agility been so important to organizations; the ability to respond quickly to changing local, national, and global conditions means something a lot different than it did a couple years ago. And the role of employee communications has been a huge differentiator for companies looking to accelerate change to stay relevant (or even just open) during a crisis. 

A perfect example of this is Mastermind Toys, a Canadian toy brand that entered the pandemic with an outdated ecommerce platform and no contactless curbside option. In five months, the company launched a brand-new digital platform, complete with one-hour curbside pickup, just in time for the Christmas rush. And a big component of accelerating that change was bringing the company’s frontline associates into the conversation using Nudge. Mastermind CEO Sarah Jordan explains:

“We wanted everyone to co-create with us. The biggest change is how empowered our front line feels to provide ideas and best practices, and it’s been game-changer for us. Like, there’s no new currency on recess, since recesses aren’t happening. And no one’s really doing extracurricular. And how are you trading Pokemon cards? All of these insights are coming from the stores, because the way we live has completely changed. It has been really impactful – that change of encouraging others to participate at all levels of the organization and really co-creating together.”

As we move into a post-pandemic reality, operational agility will remain just as crucial to organizations – because nothing will be the same again. Consumer behavior, travel boons…nothing can be predicted like before. So companies will need to stay nimble and adaptive to the changing world. And a well-informed workforce will be an integral piece of that puzzle. 

The benefits of deskless employee communication go far beyond these numbers and advantages. Giving your frontline workers the information and training they need to truly thrive will boost your business in more ways than we can count. 

Nudge partners with C.A. Short to improve employee experiences for deskless workers

Nudge partners with C.A. Short to improve employee experiences for deskless workers

Big news at Nudge today: we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with C.A. Short, a leader in the recognition award services industry, to provide a comprehensive employee experience solution for organizations looking to improve retention and engagement among their non-desk workers. 

About C.A. Short

C.A. Short’s employee recognition programs, service anniversary awards, and safety incentive programs are designed to help companies reduce employee turnover and absenteeism – not to mention increase employee engagement, productivity, and safety performance. Their People Are Everything employee engagement platform consolidates various recognition programs into one easy-to administrate platform.

Nudge engagement points

Nudge and C.A. Short

Through its gamified approach to micro-communications, Nudge already makes it easy to engage deskless employees though team challenges and friendly competitions. This strategic partnership means that Nudge customers can gain access to C.A. Short’s vast reward network and fulfillment capabilities, which makes it even easier to manage the incentive and award aspect of their employee program. C.A. Short customers with a deskless or frontline workforce will have the unique opportunity to roll out Nudge’s digital solution to leverage its native points system as currency for redeeming awards and incentives – while also improving communication and engagement.

“Providing employees with the right incentive or award is a key component of any engagement strategy,” says Kevin Gergel, Vice President of Sales at C.A. Short. “Our partnership with Nudge will enable current and future customers to create employee engagement programs that are easy to manage, built for scale, and customized for their non-desk workforce.”

“Employee experiences are built on the foundation of great communication and engagement,” says Kyle Arnold, Vice President of Business Development at Nudge. “With C.A. Short, we’re excited to offer organizations a complete EX solution for increasing worker satisfaction and performance, while reducing turnover and absenteeism.”