- By Luke Farrugia
- February 06, 2023
It is essential for employers to have their workforce feel heard and valued, especially within the deskless workforce sector.
The job market is changing as inflation has caused wages to rapidly rise and employee expectations have evolved throughout the pre-pandemic era. It is essential for employers to have their workforce feel heard and valued, especially within the deskless workforce sector.
For deskless employees, there’s a bridge to gap between corporate management and those working on the floor or frontline. Some 40% of today’s deskless workers have contemplated quitting their job in the past year, making it clearer than ever before that employees seek a sense of value, purpose and belonging–and are prepared to jump ship if they’re not feeling it. It all starts with engagement founded in empathy from their employers.
Amid quiet quitting trends, a tumultuous economy and a surge in union strikes across all industries, employers are finally waking up and asking themselves an important question: How do you engage the deskless workforce where email shoutouts and incentives or perks the desk-based enjoy aren't applicable or transferable?
We teamed up with researchers at Durham University and found out that there is indeed a cognitive science behind getting it right.
It’s no surprise that communication is fundamental at work—what’s important is understanding how that message is delivered. Deskless workers aren’t perpetually on Slack or checking their emails. However, employers can still leverage technology to reach that segment of the workforce. Findings by Durham University show digital and behavioral messaging strategies can increase engagement.
Let’s dig in on three findings and how they help employers reach their deskless employees.
Behavior is influenced by social norms.
Values, actions and expectations are both implicitly and explicitly established by different groups and ecosystems like a workplace. Our brains rely on those social norms to make sense of situations in the most efficient way, cutting through the complexity of a situation to fit in with what those norms are.
In the workplace, this might mean something like following safety protocols or aspects of the organization’s culture. Providing role models, describing how others carry out an action, highlighting dynamic trends and positively framing information are ways to influence behavior and adhere to social norms. For instance, providing visual examples of how safety protocols can be followed may inspire employees to act the same way.
Digital signage can show those examples easily, and truly effective messaging doesn’t even need the added context of the written word, so the message can be delivered to employees regardless of their native language.
Empathy can reduce bias.
Cognitive dissonance is in play at the workplace, even if it’s not obvious. An employee might believe that when other people commit infractions they deserve punishment, but when they commit the same infraction there is justification.
This lack of accountability—bad things happen to bad people, and good things happen to good people—stands in the way of a positive environment. Including imagery of people similar to those you want to influence may change their line of thinking. All of a sudden the consequences of those infractions may become relevant to them, too.
Research also shows that fostering empathy through community can reduce this bias. Through signage that displays an employee’s birthday or anniversary with the company or highlights an achievement, you can bring those employees closer together and eliminate the lack of accountability.
A well-maintained psychological contract breaks the 'us vs. them’ mentality.
The social aspect of our brains organizes and compartmentalizes our world, giving meaning and structure to each silo it creates. This helps us navigate the workplace, distinguishing allies from enemies and identifying situations.
Social brains may create an “us vs. them” image between management and lower-level employees. In this scenario, organizations can bridge that gap through a good psychological contract, the unspoken agreement where employees trust that their employer will act in a certain way toward them, and they will respond in kind.
Companies can build that trust by developing a shared identity with their employees. Through internal communication, they can highlight common causes that both the individual and collective organization stands for.
Understanding the underlying behavioral psychology of the workplace can better inform what kind of message a company wants to send and how it wants to communicate it. Digital signage can deliver this kind of content to foster an inclusive environment that shows employees are valued.
The right messaging that engages employees could even improve retention during this so-called Great Resignation. In many cases, employees are leaving to find an appreciation they don’t believe they’re getting. Through a thoughtful evaluation of the psychology at hand and effective messaging, you can let those employees know how much you value their contributions.
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