Facebook Workplace has released a new report, highlighting the disconnect between Australia’s frontline workforce and their employers.
Deskless not Voiceless surveyed 250 business leaders and over 1,000 frontline employees to examine how connected, how empowered, and how valued these deskless – or frontline – workers are in Australia. It found that there is a large disconnect between frontline workers and the rest of their business.
Australian frontline employees said:
- They don’t feel connected to the head office or leaders of their company
- There are barriers to communicating internally without the means, details or tools they need to reach decision-makers
- They don’t feel valued, heard and aren’t empowered to share new ideas
Employees don’t feel connected to head office
Getting out of HQ and interacting with deskless staff face-to-face will always be preferable, but it’s not always possible. Business leaders can supplement it with other, more regular touchpoints to bridge the communications divide between frontline staff and HQ.
Despite regular management visits to stores and branches, only 13 per cent of employees said they feel connected to their company headquarters. 11 per cent of deskless employees say they don’t feel connected to any part of their company. This highlights a significant disconnect between deskless workers and their managers.
There are barriers to communication internally
Physical distance is not the only challenge impacting the ability to connect deskless employees with their organization. The research reveals top-down complex organizational structures are a significant hurdle for internal communication. Two thirds of frontline employees say there are barriers to communicating within their company. The main obstacle is that 58 per cent are told to report anything important through their immediate manager. More worryingly, 31 per cent of deskless workers in Australia don’t have access to the details of the correct person to contact in their company as well as the means to do so.
It’s also important to understand the power of mobile-first collaboration tools. 35 per cent of front-line employees say they came up with their best ideas outside of work hours. Giving employees tools in the palm of their hand can increase the chances of someone sharing a good idea.
Employees don’t feel empowered
Employees tend to feel engaged when they are consulted and feel able to contribute to the businesses. Both managers and frontline employees agree that coming up with ideas for the business is a joint responsibility. But when it comes to actually happening, only 34 per cent of deskless employees say it happens in their organization.
Feeling disempowered is the main bottleneck to creativity among deskless employees with 40 per cent attributing this as the reason they don’t share ideas at work. One in 5 say they aren’t encouraged to speak up and/or there are no channels in place for them to do so. Managers seem blind to this; 85 per cent of managers think frontline employees do feel empowered to share their ideas.
Workplace director APAC Luke McNeal said: “Deskless not Voiceless research found that there is a communication failure between managers and frontline workers in Australia which is leading to feelings of isolation and disengagement, stifling innovation and creativity. Deskless employees told us that they struggle to feel connected to head office and company leaders, that there are barriers to communicating internally without the means, context, and tools needed to reach decision makers. And that they don’t feel empowered to share new ideas.
“This disconnect is inhibiting growth. We know that deskless workers – who many times are the first and only touchpoint with customers – are untapped sources of insight and knowledge. To combat this, businesses must focus on engaging with their entire workforce, especially those who don’t sit in HQ. At Workplace, we believe that when everyone is connected business runs more smoothly; internal culture is stronger, communication is faster and collaboration is better.”
Facebook AUNZ managing director Will Easton said: “The future of work is going to be about breaking down barriers – geographic, departmental, linguistic, and more. Technology can connect everyone, from the C-suite to frontline workers, giving everyone the same tools to communicate and collaborate.
“By giving everyone a voice, businesses achieve real benefits – employee engagement goes up, customer satisfaction increases and ideas bubble up from the frontline. Iconic Aussie brands, like Bunnings and Taronga Zoo, have used Workplace to create stronger internal culture and empower their employees to make faster decisions.”