The Tribe Report 10. The Non-Desk Best Practices Issue - Page 7

TRIBE’S TAKE Engaging non-desk employees in the company vision Back in 1978, Robert Palmer released a hit song called “Every Kind of People.” I don’t have evidence of this, but I’m almost certain that the song was written about non-desk employees. Over the years, Tribe’s work has focused on non-desk employee audiences for a number of clients. Those non-desk workers have included manufacturing workers, delivery people, retail sales associates, road warriors, engineers on oil rigs, nurses, brain surgeons and rocket scientists. In the most classic example, blue collar and retail non-desk employees will spend their days on manufacturing or retail store floors. They’re on their feet. They likely don’t have regular access to a work computer. Most often they don’t have a company email address, and they tend to be very resistant to receiving work-related messages on their personal smartphones or computers. Their workdays are filled with work with little available time for “nice to know” information. To complicate things, many non-desk employees are organized by unions and have legal restrictions on the corporate communications they can receive. There are many barriers to overcome when we communicate with this audience. There’s another segment of non-desk workers out there as well. Though we don’t always think of this demographic as non-desk. They are highly educated, highly compensated road warriors and field workers. Unlike retail associates, these white-collar, non-desk employees may technically have a desk, but they spend the majority of their time away from it. And they spend most of their time outside of the company firewall. Therefore, they have limited access to the intranet or other connections to the company. While the issues may be different from group to group, communications challenges can have a negative impact on these employees. The most obvious issue, of course, is the inability to reach 100 percent of your employees when there’s an important company announcement. Manufacturing or retail workers may not feel a connection with corporate employees. Home office workers may feel alienated from the corporate culture. Here’s the larger issue, though. Most of these are customer-facing employees. To put it another way, they’re your brand. McDonald’s (or any quick-service restaurant) might spend a billion dollars a year in advertising, but the reality of the brand experience all comes down to the person at the counter or the drive-thru window. Most of these are customer-facing employees. To put it another way, they’re your brand. In addition to working with non-desk audiences of all types, Tribe’s primary research on the subject guides a lot of our thinking. Here are a handful of insights that we’ve learned along the way: TAKE IT FROM THE TOP Cascading important information through direct managers is a great strategy. However, it should not be the only strategy. Non-desk employees want communication from senior management. This is especially true when the subjects include values, vision or major changes inside the company. SPRING 2015 | 7