Optimising the employee experience for deskless workers – and how tech can help

Is the employee experience (EX) you offer still fit for purpose or has the pandemic shifted employee expectations and altered their perception of your workplace? What can leaders of deskless workplaces do to create a remarkable EX and what role does HR technology play? Find out in our latest blog.

The world of work has transformed out of all recognition over the past three years. In many ways COVID-19 was the tipping point for many organisations, forcing them to rethink how, where and when work is undertaken. They’ve had to reprioritise both the employee experience (EX) and the employee value proposition (EVP) and redefine culture – ‘the way things are done around here’ – in order to retain and attract talent. Fortunately, technology can assist in shaping the work experience, especially for shift-based, ‘deskless’ workers.

The current context: A global skills shortage

The pandemic has resulted in a talent shortage of historical scale. One 2022 study from ManpowerGroup found 75% of companies globally are suffering from talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 16-year high.

The same survey found that sectors dependent on deskless workers were the heaviest hit, taking out five of the top seven spots in terms of employers reporting talent shortages. These sectors included:

  • Education, health and government (76%)

  • Manufacturing (76%)

  • Wholesale and retail trade (75%)

  • Restaurants and hotels (74%)

  • Construction (72%)

It’s not just about attracting new talent; it’s also about retaining existing talent. When Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed deskless workers globally in April 2022, they found that 37% of those workers could be out the door in the next six months. The top reasons given were:

  • Lack of flexibility or work-life balance (50%)

  • Lack of career advancement (41%)

  • Pay (30%)

  • Lack of enjoyment in current position (15%)

  • Lack of recognition for their contributions (14%)

Making changes

Clearly, something has to give. EVPs that were born pre-pandemic are no longer hitting the mark. Such EVPs were often built upon a “spray and pray” approach to employee benefits and had limited scope for personalisation, didn’t factor in elements like health and wellbeing, and rarely focused on corporate ethics and values.

Gartner noted three key recurring themes that have eroded the impact of the traditional EVP:

  1. Employees are people, not just workers

  2. Work is a subset of life, not separate from it

  3. Values come through feelings, not just features

The phrases ‘redefine culture’ and ‘reshaping the EX’ might send shivers up the spines of leaders – many of whom might be even more wary of attempting to pull off such transformations in deskless work environments where employees are working different shifts, sometimes in different locations from their peers. Many of those employees were in the frontline throughout COVID-19; they are fatigued and disengaged.

Back to basics: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

While organisational change is never easy, it doesn’t always have to be scary. When assessing the EX it pays to go back to basics and review the motivational drivers of human beings. Most of us would have at some point in our careers come across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

As employers, we can help build out several layers of that pyramid, from the physiological needs at the bottom (food, clothing – providing the pay to obtain those items), up through safety needs (job security), onto love and belonging needs (friendship, good people to work with), esteem needs (recognition, respect, status, strength), and finally self-actualisation (desire to become the most that one can be – perhaps through learning & development).

Multiple parts of that pyramid – especially the higher segments – relate directly to the EX, which in turn play such a key role in shaping the EVP. With so many sectors struggling with acute talent shortages, employers have had to find things that will help them stand out in a crowded, super competitive market and channel those elements into their EVP. Keen to learn more? Discover how to refresh your EVP in our eBook

At Humanforce, we’re committed to helping our customers fulfill the needs of deskless workers – and we do that with technology.

How technology can shape the employee experience

Technology can help deskless workplaces on multiple levels. For deskless workers we’re not talking laptops and desktop PCs; we’re talking mobile phones and mobile apps, providing anywhere, anytime access. That sort of tech can:

  • Increase flexibility for shift-based workers: Flexible work isn’t just about the location at which work is undertaken. It’s also about providing more autonomy and choice about the hours worked – and that’s something that can be offered to deskless workers. For example, Humanforce empowers employees to bid for and swap shifts easily, so they can better match work to their personal circumstances.

  • Close the empathy gap between frontline workers and head office: Mobile-friendly tech can open up the conversation and give employees the tools to communicate and provide feedback to executives and managers in the flow of work, while also bolstering team communication. Read more on the engagement benefits

  • Empower employees: They can take control of their personal details, their schedules and rosters; they can check payslips and request leave; they can access benefits and learning/company information, all at the point of need. Read more about how tech can help with rostering and scheduling.

  • Provide more effective feedback tools and give employees a voice: Employee listening tools and gathering that feedback is essential to building out your EVP. In fact, if you don’t capture that voice of employees, you’re going to struggle to create anything meaningful. That voice will help you pick up on the nuances of your culture: what you’re doing well and what needs to change. Read more on how to listen to the ‘voice’ of deskless workers in our blog.

  • Close the development gap: Technology can open up opportunities and provide employees with access to bite-sized microlearning at the point of need, whether that’s during a lunchbreak or when they have an issue on the clock. If learning tools can be integrated into daily routines, are available 24/7, and allow for self-paced learning, they’ll more likely be used.

  • Give people the tools to improve physical, mental and financial wellbeing: Again, if you actively listen to your employees, you’ll hear that many of them are keen for you, as their employer, to help them manage stress, improve work-life balance, and help them manage their personal finances more effectively. It’s part of creating a more human-centric EVP. Your employees give a lot of themselves to you, and this is one way to repay them. To cite just one example of a benefit gaining traction, early access to earned wages allows employees to access a portion of their wage ahead of pay day. Read more about how it works and why this is appealing to deskless workers here.

Humanforce is always looking to stay one step ahead of the needs of deskless workers and the organisations that employ them. To do that, we keep our ear to the ground and are continuously enhancing our software suite. Keeping in mind that technology is the enabler and not the standalone solution to a better EX, we’re aware that employees want technology that is:

  • It needs to be interactive and embedded into the tools employees are already using, so they can interact in real-time and more efficiently access the information required to do their jobs. Mobile apps are the best example of this.

  • Deskless workers are always on the go and may not have instant access to HR or even their manager; they want to be able to easily check and update their own personal information so self-service is a must-have.

  • Employees want a unified user-experience, preferably with single sign-on that provides them with access to multiple HR services – payroll, rostering / time & attendance, communication, access to benefits, etc.

  • It should be able to take into account past history and current circumstances (i.e. current role) and potentially make suggestions and recommendations for the future. This is similar to consumer retail apps and entertainment platforms like Amazon or Netflix.

  • Work tech functionality should mirror consumer tech functionality. It shouldn’t require a training module or lengthy instruction manual.

The time for change is now!

Research shows that 80% of the global working population is deskless. Yet, these workers have been under-served by technology. Indeed, although 75% of deskless workers spend most of their working day using technology, 60% are unsatisfied with the tech they’re given, citing it as slow, inefficient and hard to use.

In the post-pandemic era, every organisation has an opportunity to refresh its vision, values and culture. The entire employee experience is up for renewal – and the role of technology in shaping that EX should not be underestimated. However, what works for one organisation may not work for another – and nor should business leaders want it to. In this hyper-competitive talent environment, there are few rewards for being a mere follower of trends – blaze your own path and reap the benefits.

How Humanforce can help

Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, pay, employee engagement, and communication. Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team, and drive growth. Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK.

Learn more about how Humanforce can automate and simplify workforce management processes in your organisation. Contact us or schedule a demo.