Your disengaged Firstline Workers could be costing you millions

Companies that extend digital capabilities to all staff, including Firstline Workers, will help create a culture of productivity, mobility, teamwork and empowerment
Inside HR, partnering with Microsoft, invite you to join the conversation around empowering firstline workers at its upcoming event, Power to the People. You will be in the presence of some of Australia’s trailblazing HR professionals, offering up their knowledge on critical topics to assist your organisation and your firstline workers. With opportunities to discuss with and learn from industry leading speakers, Power to the People will ensure you return to your organisation with a forward-thinking view on HR processes. Register now

Edit: We’re out of space! Registrations have now closed due to the incredibly enthusiastic response we’ve received for this event. You can find out more about Microsoft 365 Enterprise for Firstline workers here, and sign up here to be the first to hear about Inside HR events in the future! 

Companies that extend digital capabilities to all staff, including Firstline Workers, will help create a culture of productivity, mobility, teamwork and empowerment, writes Nada Alterisio from Microsoft

Digital transformation is creating unprecedented scope for employees to collaborate, whether they are in the office, or in the field. More than half of all enterprise IT spending is currently being earmarked for areas such as mobile, cloud and big data, according to one global survey. Yet so far, the main beneficiaries are the so-called ‘information workers’ being liberated from their desks.

These workers now enjoy seamless digital tools such as instant messaging and video-conferencing, as well as the ability to co-create documents and log in from anywhere. It’s a flexible work nirvana that is increasingly sought with gusto by freelancers, newer recruits and parents striving to combine family and career.

Spread the benefits of digital transformation to everyone
However, there is another group of employees that has an equally important need for connection, which digital transformation has largely overlooked. Described by Microsoft as ‘Firstline Workers’ – and comprising an estimated four million Australians – they serve as the public face of organisations, performing in shift-based roles such as shop assistants, waiters, nurses, electricians and firefighters.

In an era when disengaged employees cost millions of dollars in lost productivity, organisations have strong incentives to digitally galvanise their workforces, from financial benefits to improved engagement. More than 80 per cent of firstline workers agree that technology can help streamline processes and unleash efficiencies (Microsoft Australia 2017). Let’s look at how.

Three ways to promote staff engagement
For example, millions of Australians today still have a static view of their shifts. The simple act of applying for holidays or requesting a roster change requires them to navigate a series of administrative hurdles. By contrast, inviting firstline workers on the same digital transformation journey as their colleagues would allow them to automate routine HR tasks using a simple smartphone app. Accessed on the same personal device they use to manage all other aspects of their lives, this instantly eliminates non-productive phone calls and relieves managers of swathes of paperwork.

Secondly, giving firstline workers access to real-time company information is far more likely to promote collegiality than siloing them from the rest of the organisation. Shouting instructions across rooms or pinning notices on walls can no longer be relied on to maximise performance. Instead, the modern workplace bulletin board is virtual, not physical, providing access to announcements through a single tap. This could include everything from staff newsletters to CEO’s directives, or even useful snippets such as assignment lists or the date of a worker’s next shift.

Thirdly, a true digital collaboration solution must transcend any individual worksite. Firstline workers should be able to freely share best practices across factory floors and between franchises, as well as to network and link content with the outside world. This will enable innovations to flow from one store or service environment to the next.

For example, the world’s largest provider of small group adventure travel, Intrepid Group, set out to create intimate connections between their staff and travellers. Cloud solutions made it easier for Intrepid to meet customer expectations and grow their business in a responsible way, while helping maintain Intrepid’s organisational culture and support firstline workers as they grow. Intrepid’s offering supports staff with more streamlined processes – allowing them to get to customers faster and find the right trip for the right customer through their knowledge base, and then support them on their trip.

The pace of change will only accelerate
Some Australian organisations are more advanced than others on the digital transformation path. However, the pace of change is only likely to accelerate. Organisations that establish the right technology foundations today will be positioned to get an edge on competitors by moving to the next level of sophistication. This involves introducing data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities that generate valuable insights and metrics for firstline worker teams to do even better.

The beauty of digital tools is that they liberate employees to focus on their core strength, rather than leaving them disconnected from their organisation’s purpose. The job of a firstline worker may be to serve food with panache, provide compassionate bedside care or brighten a customer’s day by helping them choose the perfect outfit.

Companies that extend out digital capabilities to all their staff will create a new culture of productivity, mobility and teamwork, empowering their service-minded champions to achieve their absolute best.

Inside HR, partnering with Microsoft, invite you to join the conversation around empowering firstline workers at its upcoming event, Power to the People. You will be in the presence of some of Australia’s trailblazing HR professionals, offering up their knowledge on critical topics to assist your organisation and your firstline workers. With opportunities to discuss with and learn from industry leading speakers, Power to the People will ensure you return to your organisation with a forward-thinking view on HR processes. Register now.

Edit: We’re out of space! Registrations have now closed due to the incredibly enthusiastic response we’ve received for this event. You can find out more about Microsoft 365 Enterprise for Firstline workers here, and sign up here to be the first to hear about Inside HR events in the future!