Indian businesses failing to connect and empower frontline workers: Workplace Report

Workplace report found that there is a communication failure between managers and frontline workers in India, which is leading to feelings of isolation and disengagement

Workplace released ‘Deskless Not Voiceless’, a report looking at the disconnect between how Indian frontline workers communicate and collaborate with their counterparts in a company’s headquarters.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,200 business leaders and frontline employees in Indian businesses with more than 100 employees, concluded that there is a gap between how managers and frontline staff communicate and get work done.

A growing disconnect

The findings from Indian workers were stark; 24% of frontline employees say they don’t feel connected to their head office and a massive 76% say they aren’t connected to their company’s C-suite.

Nearly all (95%) of frontline employees said their company has internal communication barriers and they lack the tools, means and context to share new ideas with their employers. Frontline workers say one of the biggest barriers (60%) to sharing ideas internally is that they must report everything through their immediate manager, yet many of them don’t have email, and only half (53%) have access to real-time digital collaboration tools. In turn, 76% still rely on formal conversation to communicate.

Businesses failing to empower frontline staff

There is interest in connecting those in customer-facing roles; 61% of business leaders say they see the value of nurturing frontline employees’ thoughts and ideas and 95% say they see the overall value that frontline workers bring to a business.

However, just 66% have actually visited their frontline workers in the past year. The gap is even more pronounced in industries such as Architecture.

Getting out of HQ and interacting with deskless staff face-to-face will always be preferable, but it’s not always possible. Business leaders can supplement it with other, more regular touchpoints to bridge the communications divide between frontline staff and HQ.

Ideas failing to be heard

This disconnect and lack of communication tools is forcing businesses to leave innovation on the table. Nearly all (98%) of Indian frontline employees say they’ve had an idea to better their company, but more than a quarter (27%) say those ideas are lost internally. Sadly, almost all frontline employees (99%) agree that ideas should come from all levels of the business, yet just 35% see ideas bubbling up from the frontline. Yet it could create a larger problem; 62% of managers say they’re worried that their frontline staff will quit if they aren’t listed to.

Luke McNeal, Director, APAC, Workplace said: “Deskless not Voiceless research found that there is a communication failure between managers and frontline workers in India, which is leading to feelings of isolation and disengagement, stifling innovation and creativity. Deskless employees told us that they struggle to feel connected to head office and company leaders, that there are barriers to communicating internally without the means, context, and tools needed to reach decision-makers. And that they don’t feel empowered to share new ideas.

This disconnect is inhibiting growth. We know that deskless workers – who many times are the first and only touchpoint with customers – are untapped sources of insight and knowledge. To combat this, businesses must focus on engaging with their entire workforce, especially those who don’t sit in HQ. At Workplace, we believe that when everyone is connected business runs more smoothly; internal culture is stronger, communication is faster and collaboration is better.” he further added.

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