4 Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating with Frontline Workers

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Communicating with Frontline Workers

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Last updated on May 12, 2022 at 02:48 pm

Communicating with frontline workers can be a big challenge even just from an access perspective. But even once we have mobile-first channels in place, we don’t always get it right. And there are four major mistakes we often make.

Number 1: Corporate Jargon

The language we use matters. And it’s really easy for someone to feel like you’re just spewing company propaganda rather than trying to help and support the frontline in literally keeping our businesses moving.

And using jargon can also just be confusing. It’s hard to relate to. So, what can you do?

Start by really getting to know your audience. What level of detail do they need? How often do they want to receive messages? In what format? How do your frontline teams talk to one another?

Building these audience personas are helpful for not only writing in a way that they can relate to and understand but for helping you actually connect with your audience.

Number 2: Comms Are Only One-Way

There is certainly a time and a place for top-down communication. But just dictating orders and updates from the top all the time can make frontline teams feel like their voice isn’t being heard. Like it doesn’t matter.

But it really should matter to you.

There are so many great ideas that can come from your deskless workers. They are the ones who are actually in the trenches, and you’d be amazed at how often they can point out the safety risks, the inefficiencies, and how things could be better.

Culture also isn’t one-way. Culture is defined as “how we do things here.” And your frontline employees and managers are a huge part of that. If you never let them share their feedback or voice their complaints, it makes it impossible to really live the culture you want.

Number 3: We Act Like They’re Deskbound Workers

If you don’t sit at a desk all day for work, you can’t access the same channels that deskbound workers can. You probably haven’t gotten to see the executive team speak. You might not even know who they are.

But sometimes, we try communicating with frontline workers in the same way as we do their deskbound teammates. And that just doesn’t work.

This comes back to your audience personas. What do they really need and want? What would make their lives easier? What kind of programming and support do they get? Is their manager having a positive or a negative impact?

At the end of the day, yes, all people want to feel appreciated and like their work has a purpose. But the tactics you use need to be different for each group just on the basis of work environment, access to information, and resources.

Number 4: We Aren’t Timely Enough

When there’s a critical issue, comms teams typically do a great job of getting a message out ASAP. But we aren’t always great about letting them know about major org changes before it’s announced to the world. Or sharing the state of the business and the future vision.

We know you are doing your best! But not being timely with communication does have a big impact on your teams. So here’s, what you can do:

  • Let go of it needing to be perfect. This means you can share information as you get it. It doesn’t have to be the full picture yet.
  • Sometimes the best thing you can do is say, “We don’t know yet, but we are working on it.”
  • And get your stakeholders on a schedule. Set the expectation for when the details for the message are due, when you’ll have the message ready for review, and when they have to approve it. This will help get you out of just the tactics and help you be more strategic. And that is the best way to get ahead and not feel like you’re always playing catch up.

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