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6 Ways to Better Engage Your Non-desk Employees

Engaging your in-person and remote employees might be second nature, but what about your non-desk workforce? Your non-desk employees, such as construction, healthcare, or service industry workers, can easily feel undervalued since they have different needs than desk-based employees. You can engage and retain your essential workforce by following these six impactful strategies.

While virtual employee engagement programs have taken off since the rise of remote work in 2020, many employers still struggle to engage their non-desk employees effectively. 

A non-desk employee is anyone who doesn’t require a computer for the day-to-day functions of their job. Non-desk employees span several major industries, such as construction, emergency response, healthcare, education, retail, food service, truck driving, and more. 

Non-desk employees, often referred to as essential workers, have different needs than desk-based (or remote, “work from anywhere”) employees. Your engagement efforts must be tailored to address these workers’ unique needs to maintain high job satisfaction within your organization. Here are six ways to better engage your non-desk employees.

1. Prioritize feedback and 1:1s

    Lack of communication is a leading reason for employee dissatisfaction. Just as you’d prioritize feedback for remote or in-office desk-based staff, create spaces for your non-desk employees to speak freely about their conditions. Reach out often to ensure your employees feel valued and establish a system of recurring 1:1 meetings with your direct reports so they know their voices are heard.

    Ultimately, it would be best to create an environment where any employee would feel comfortable speaking up about any job-specific confusion, inappropriate conduct, feedback or take the risk that they’ll find that opportunity elsewhere. 

    2. Leverage Digital Project and Workforce Management Software

    Even though non-desk workers aren’t looking at a computer for most of the day, they can still benefit from the value of technology. 

    Tech tools such as project or workforce management software can help improve efficiency, productivity, and cross-team communications, increasing employee satisfaction. They can also aid in anticipating project constraints and assisting workers to avoid uncomfortable situations. 

    Workforce Management software provides employers with data insights on time and attendance, enhancing business efficiency. It enables schedule creation, time and labor tracking, and centralized management of PTO requests. The software also automates communication, notifying employees of missed punches to minimize payroll errors. Employees can easily access their PTO balances and request time off, while managers can approve or deny requests from any device.

    Whichever management tech tools you consider, prioritize making them mobile-friendly since non-desk employees will probably check their mobile devices more often than their desktop counterparts. 

    3. Utilize HR Tech to Improve Communication and Efficiency

    You can also implement essential HR tech to scale internal initiatives as you hire, onboard, and actively engage and retain non-desk employees. Here are some examples of helpful HR tech:

    • Onboarding and training videos. New hires often feel left in the dust after their initial onboarding. Making simple, accessible training videos is a great way to keep your workers informed on company happenings and best practices, whether it’s their first day on the job or much later on.
    • Mobile app. Communication apps are becoming increasingly popular to centralize corporate communications in an accessible format. They are helpful for on-the-go team members, such as construction workers driving to and from job sites.
    • Community capabilities. HR tech can also be an asset by way of bringing coworkers together. Consider using platforms that have a built in community aspect to encourage collaboration.

    The solution is to make all of this accessible from your employees’ cell phones so they can access critical information, whether at a project site, working the front or back of the house, or engaging with customers on the sales floor.

    4. Empower Your Managers 

    You’ve probably heard before that employee engagement starts at the top. But really, if your highest-paid, highest-profile employees are not doing their part to create a strong company culture, who will?

    When attempting to strengthen company culture, you must instill core values at the top of your organization and practice for them to ever spread throughout the organization. Empower your managers to lead by example when acknowledging, celebrating, and engaging their team(s). 

    Additionally, consider providing access to leadership training programs for managers. Training programs can equip them with the skills and knowledge to effectively lead and inspire their teams, fostering a culture of accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement.

    5. Offer Opportunities for L&D and Cross-training

    Learning and development (L&D) are high-demand perks to both prospective employees and your current workforce. Offering L&D opportunities like free on-the-job training can be a substantial benefit in helping keep employees satisfied in their current position. Some companies even grant continuing education bonuses, establish student loan forgiveness initiatives, or sponsor other external L&D opportunities, such as night schools, and encourage cross-training programs to help foster their employees’ professional development and expand their skill sets. 

    Cross-training employees offers several benefits for both individuals and organizations. Most notably, cross-training increases flexibility within your workforce by allowing employees to acquire new skills and knowledge outside their primary roles. This enables smoother operations during times of employee absence or high workload. Additionally, cross-training promotes a more collaborative and supportive work environment as employees better understand different roles and departments. It fosters teamwork and encourages a culture of shared knowledge. 

    6. Acknowledge and Celebrate Their Work

    A final way to engage non-desk employees is the simplest: show them how much you value their presence and contribution to the organization. No one wants to feel like an interchangeable part of a team, and in fact, 53% of employees report wanting more recognition. Which means there’s a strong likelihood your managers should go above and beyond to show appreciation for their workers’ efforts, leveraging public and private praise.

    If you need help creating an employee recognition program, read our blog to learn the do’s and don’ts of effective employee recognition here.

    Get Support Engaging Your Non-desk Employees

    Ready to offer solutions to engage your non-desk employees? At Merritt Business Solutions, we can set you up with a suite of HR tech tools all under one platform! These tools will help you connect your team on their mobile devices and streamline processes from onboarding and training to reviews, feedback, and recognition. Contact our team to learn more about getting started with HR Tech! 

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