Investing in your frontline workers is an investment in your company’s bottom line.
In the recent Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Baytown Chapter meeting, Jennifer Walsh, director of futureAlign’s Frontline Forward™ Culture and Communications Program, spoke about how to engage this unique set of workers to increase morale, productivity, retention and safety results.
Frontline workers are those who aren’t in a traditional office setting. They can include emergency responders, laborers, retail workers, insurance adjusters, roadworkers, surveyors or construction workers.
“A lot of times they’re the most neglected of your workforce because they are hard to reach and they are motivated and inspired by different things,” Jennifer said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the products we need or the services that we provide. It’s essential that we communicate with them to get them on board.”
Jennifer shared client examples demonstrating how they achieved step-change results specifically with frontline construction workers.
“They’ve got multiple company contract worker groups and are on an accelerated timeframe,” she said.
In general, the Frontline Forward™ Culture and Communications program at large construction sites have resulted in proven results, such as:
- Achieving attrition rates of 2-4% in an industry where the average is 21%
- Creating a sought-after workplace of choice with survey results more than 90% favorable as a safe, great place to work with communication that keeps them informed
- Executive recognition including KBR’s CEO Award of HSSE Excellence, ExxonMobil’s Global Projects SSH&E Award, Construction Users Roundtable First Place for Large Projects as well as a finalist for the Garner Awards for Corporate Branding.
The key to engaging the workers comes down to seven key areas, she said.
- Create a Common Identity
Through facilitating the creation of a one-team culture, common identity and values, it builds pride and a sense of belonging. This is particularly important if you have multiple contract partners coming from different cultures and companies to work together.
“You have to make everybody feel like they are a part of something and not an outsider,” she said.
- Transform Core Behaviors
It is key to define, align and communicate how people should behave. futureAlign infuses human and organization performance knowledge together with communications to make these behaviors achieve a high performing culture.
The behaviors aren’t done in a vacuum, the workers themselves are a part of the process to co-creating core behaviors and values
“It wasn’t top down, but it was everybody creating expected team behaviors,” she said. “By co-creating those values, people own it and feel like they’re a part of it. It makes such a powerful difference when it’s not just management telling people, but we’re going beneath the surface to create it and hold each other accountable to those behaviors.”
- Peer-to-Peer Accountability
Everyone contributes to the groups culture, so everyone has to own it. We encourage individual accountability to the agreed upon team behaviors through peer recognition. They hold each other accountable to the culture they want to work in.
“It’s great when recognition comes from a leader, but when comes from your peers, it means something special as you strengthen your common bond with others in your work group,” she said.
- Reward & Recognition
What you do with those nominations is the next step in recognizing positive behaviors and fostering a family-like sense of community.
- Regular communication cadence
A regular communication cadence is key to really making sure your strong culture sustains momentum.
“We all know that it takes seven times, seven different ways to be able to absorb messages,” Jennifer said, adding that it’s important to include frontline workers’ personal heart-felt messages and pictures to foster trust and a sense of pride.
It makes a huge difference to the workers and makes them feel valued and heard.
“You see a sense of pride that you don’t see anywhere else,” she said. “We’ve seen workers take their photos beside message posters or they will ask for copies of the videos. They are proud.”
- Custom channels that resonate
If you aren’t reaching your audience where they work, you are wasting time, money and effort.
“You want to make sure that you have custom channels that resonate with your workforce, because it’s not going to be the same as your office employees,” she said.
- Measure team progress
Culture and communication’s goals and metrics should enable the business objectives.
“Ultimately I always think I’m only as successful as the businesses. In a healthy culture, communications can make a definite impact to the bottom line.”
futureAlign also measures quantitative and qualitative results. Quantitative culture results come through formal surveys – done in a way frontline worker feel comfortable completing resulting in high completion high rates. But the qualitative results are felt with the “buzz” you feel when you step onsite and informally comments to leaders and the communications team.
Engaging your workforce means doing so with heart-centered approach – something futureAlign also lives within their own company. These tips will help you align with the future that’s possible.
Watch the Reach Your Frontline webinar highlights, presentation with Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Baytown Chapter meeting here.
For more information on futureAlign’s Frontline Forward™ Culture and Communications program, contact Jennifer Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-520-8651. Find out about this certified woman-owned business at www.futurealign.com.