Employee expectations have evolved significantly in recent years. The moral code of employers is increasingly under scrutiny. Jobseekers are drawn to organisations with a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), where personal values are respected and appreciated.
Sadly, all too often, employees enticed by excellent lip service and proclaimed diversity, ethnicity, and integration policies, quickly move on due to the contrast between expectation and reality. This is especially true where declared values are overlooked, and individual values are disregarded.
A recent survey by WorkJam, a leader in digital frontline workplaces, shows that the most commonly stated reason for Gen Z employees seeking new employment is a lack of appreciation or feeling under-appreciated (36%).
This raises the question: How can employers better demonstrate that the DE&I policies they are so proud to flaunt are indeed part of their corporate culture?
The answer can be found in digital communication.
How digital communication can change your DE&I processes for the better
The importance of DE&I has grown exponentially in the last two years. As awareness and focus increase on this important topic, it becomes necessary for businesses to show that there are real teeth behind the good words in documents describing their company culture. Facing the genuine threat of being called out for diversity washing when DE&I theory and practice fail to match, the onus is on businesses to prove to their employees and customers that they can do more than talk the good talk when it comes to integration.
Why does this matter? It matters because, to be inclusive, HQ first needs a way to connect with their employees, especially frontline workers who often don’t have a company email address. That’s where a digital frontline workplace comes in.
Four ways in which digital communication can transform corporate DE&I in action
- Give your employees a voice
Corporate communication has historically relied on the ‘we talk while you listen’ managerial approach. Frequently resulting in frontline workers feeling marginalised. Not just because they have no say but because it can seem as if no one would be interested in hearing their views, even if there were an easy way to communicate them. Incorporating a digital frontline workplace that includes digital communication can provide a solution—creating a two-way stream of communication which feeds into a culture of open communication where every team member has a voice – irrespective of role, gender, ethnicity, age, or orientation. This puts the potential for fundamental change within everyone’s reach.
2. Transform L&D
Learning and development (L&D) opportunities are more essential than ever. Amid a global skills shortage, businesses face increasing pressure to create their own talent at all organisational levels. For frontline workers, this means an increased opportunity for career development. Helping more employees who have cut their teeth at the coalface to advance to managerial positions, building knowledge and understanding in the business. Unfortunately, L&D has shown enormous potential for bias. Managers put forward their preferred candidates. Opportunities are mentioned in one team brief but missed in another. Individuals are overlooked because they are not the established ‘fit’.
Digital communication channels can not only ensure that every employee has access to every piece of information, but they can also change how L&D is delivered. This enables employees to access the training and development tools they need when they need them. This automatically brings DE&I into the upper levels of your organisation through career development. The benefits are countless, including ensuring that no one is missed and no one receives preferential treatment – opening up all career development opportunities to every employee.
3. Enable accessibility
True diversity and integration mean making every opportunity available to all and not just encouraging employees from all ethnicities to engage with L&D. Rather, it ensures that accidental exclusion becomes impossible. A digital frontline workplace that includes a powerful digital communication tool also bridges language barriers with inline translations.
Digital tools can also make learning more engaging through different media types in your training programmes. People learn differently, and by including varied media types such as videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and SCORM files, companies have a better chance of enriching their diverse workforce.
4. Focus on employee retention and advancement
Along with feeling a lack of appreciation, a lack of engagement is one of the most common reasons for employee churn. Employees who don’t feel listened to and appreciated don’t feel connected to their company. And this happens so easily amongst frontline workers, who are typically at a great remove from HQ. Encouraging employees to build relationships with colleagues creates a sense of community that builds loyalty. You can build team cohesion and support career progression by facilitating real-time open communication. This ensures that you build diversity into your business from the bottom up.
True digital communication also allows for greater work flexibility. With digital tools such as shift swapping, where frontline employees can communicate about changing their schedule with not only their colleagues at their location but others in their area, this allows employees to have a better work-life balance, which is essential in employee retention. Digital tools such as shift swapping also negate the need for manual coordination. This means frontline workers are given equal access to shifts as long as they have the right qualifications and meet the scheduling requirements.
As mentioned earlier, over and above anything else, digital communication has the power to let your team members be heard. If you’ve even the slightest inclination to build inclusivity into the core of your business, listening to your employees’ views and allowing them to easily share ideas and concerns is paramount.
Whether it’s digital HR processes that allow employees to address concerns without also generating reams of red tape and awkwardness or the creation of forums or micro-communities where employees can interact socially, collaborate, or share ideas, digital communication helps all employees to be heard efficiently.
Case in point, DE&I matters. And not simply because it’s “the right thing to do” – although that should be reason enough. But because the expectations of your frontline workforce have evolved. Employees expect more from the businesses they work. They demand moral standards and increasingly demand that those standards be taken far beyond lip service. Integrating a digital frontline workplace with two-way communication that allows frontline workers to respond and ask questions goes a long way towards changing the status quo.
By Mark Williams, Managing Director EMEA at WorkJam.