Non-Desk Employees Blog

Keeping non-desk employees engaged: the biggest challenges and solutions

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Engaged employees tend to be more productive. Unfortunately, many employees are not engaged in their organization: a 2021 Gallup report found that 80 percent of employees surveyed weren’t. And since 80 percent of the global workforce is made up of non-desk employees, we can conclude that many non-desk employees are not engaged. This blog describes the biggest challenges in keeping non-desk employees engaged and the solutions that internal communications can provide for this problem.

They need more communication

Eighty-four percent of non-desk employees need more communication. Especially if employees are in a position where they don’t see their colleagues much, such as outside sales account managers, truck drivers, or home health care nurses. They often lack water cooler talk and other small, spontaneous moments of interaction with colleagues in the corridors or during lunch break. These can all be moments in which business information is exchanged (or have you never had an impromptu, informal meeting during your lunch break?). A lack of these interactions makes non-desk workers more dependent on the communication and information they receive through formal communications channels.

However, this need for more communication does not mean you should send your non-desk employees the same messages and information you send your desk workforce. The key to successful employee communication is targeting. The more relevant a message is to an audience, the more people will read it. Someone who always works in the field will not benefit from, for example, information about office cleaning day. However, if colleagues in the office can’t be reached due to a technical failure, employees in the field must know about this.

engaged non-desk employees

Personalized communication and targeting

In addition, MetLife research shows that employees increasingly expect communications to be personalized, especially younger Gen Z employees – they are more inclined to read personalized communications instead of generalized communications. This makes sense: if a message is written for you specifically, it’s probably more relevant and, therefore, more interesting.

In addition, personalized communications send the message that you know who your employees are and where their communication needs and their interests lie – a great way to say, “we’re glad you’re with us.” As a result, employees won’t feel like just another number on the payroll; they’re more likely to feel like they matter to the organization.

Since targeting is incredibly important for reaching various groups of employees, we’ve equipped our platform with advanced targeting functionalities. By defining a separate channel or target group, you can send your message to all employees in a specific location or department. However, you can also target individual employees or screens.

Our platform allows you to send one message to all field staff while you show completely different information on the screens in your plant’s canteen simultaneously. And you reach everyone with messages that are relevant to all with the same ease, regardless of where employees are working. This way, every message always reaches the right target group.

They don’t feel included

Research by SAP SuccessFactors shows that most non-desk employees feel that their employer views them as ‘replaceable’ and ‘temporary’. Only 39 percent of non-desk employees feel they receive adequate support from their managers, as a result of which a majority of non-desk employees are disengaged.

A communication platform like Netpresenter helps leaders to support their employees. Strategically placed digital signage screens or a mobile app especially open a direct communication channel with non-desk employees. Communicating with them is a good start to making them feel more valued and included again.

non-desk employees engaged

Our client Automatic Signal, for example, gratefully uses our mobile app to include and engage non-desk employees. Sandy Roozen, Coordinator of Marketing and Communication, says: “We wanted to give our colleagues the feeling: ‘we also belong with this company, we are a valuable part of it’. We think this is especially important for our colleagues ‘outside’, who work outside of our office or building walls. Netpresenter certainly helped evoke that feeling.”

“We find that our employees in the field feel like they are a valuable part of our organization just as much as our office employees. We don’t have an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. That’s where Netpresenter contributes. For example: when employees get a new phone, they have to re-install the Netpresenter app. If they don’t know how to do that, they usually call immediately – to ask how to install Netpresenter. So, if they don’t have the app, they miss it instantly. “

They are at an increased risk of becoming ill or injured

Non-desk employees are at an increased risk of becoming ill or injured. Not only because they are more likely to work with, for example, hazardous equipment, dangerous substances, or other work situations that pose a greater risk to their health. In the past year, we have also seen that many non-desk employees have increased exposure to the coronavirus because they often cannot work from the safety of their own home offices.

As much as 61 percent of the global workforce cannot work from home at all. This automatically puts them at a higher health risk than their colleagues, who can stay in the safe space of their home.

Because of this increased health risk, it’s important to make the safety and health of non-desk employees a priority and show that you care. After all, an employer who cares about your health and shows they care is an employer you feel more committed to and are more inclined to take health risks for.

Bringing safety measures to employees’ attention with internal comms

Internal communication can help you make your employees’ safety a priority. With the right internal communications channels, you can bring safety and safety measures to your employees’ attention constantly. By constantly repeating them, employees will better remember certain procedures or safety measures, and they will be more likely to act as they should to stay safe if procedures or measures are top of mind. However, a small poster with some safety rules stuck to a whiteboard will not stand out enough among other messages to genuinely draw attention.

engaged non-desk employees

A platform like Netpresenter, however, can be used to disseminate preventive information, such as instructions on how to act in case of an emergency or certain safety regulations. It can also be deployed to increase awareness. For example: showing the number of days without an accident will make people remember that things could go wrong, and it will probably enhance their feeling of responsibility.

Safety first at VCU Health

Our customer VCU Health has even set up a Safety First program to decrease the risk for their non-desk employees’ health. Jenifer Murphy, Safety First Coordinator at the Performance Improvement Department: “One of the main goals of the Performance Improvement Department is to improve the overall safety of our organization. With Netpresenter, we make sure that safety is top of mind within the organization. It creates a real organizational push, a social factor that is hard to ignore and that ensures everybody is dedicated to improving safety at VCU.”

Safety: paramount at Hertel Industrial Services

Our customer, Hertel Industrial Services, is also using Netpresenter to increase the safety of its non-desk employees. “Safety is paramount in all our business activities,” says Jasmijn Stolk, Manager Marketing & Communications at Hertel. “We want to prevent any incident. Therefore, we continuously repeat safety messages with Netpresenter. Our ‘ life-saving rules’, our nine basic safety rules, are also repeatedly brought to the attention of our employees through Netpresenter. This repetition ensures the message sticks.”

Do you want to know how to reach your non-desk employees best as well as keep them more engaged? Download our guide ‘How to communicate effectively with non-desk employees‘. Would you like advice on how to keep your non-desk employees engaged? Contact our consultants; they will be happy to assist you!

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Youri Cortenraad

Youri is a connector at heart and soul. He deeply understands why organizations are eager to connect with their employees and knows the best ways to do so. He enjoys using his knowledge to help organizations strengthen their relationships with employees through effective internal communication.