In companies, there is often a dichotomy between employees at headquarters (called “white collar”) and employees in the field (called “blue collar”). To avoid this divide, the enterprise social network (ESN) is an excellent tool. Explanations.
Re-connect the field (blue-collar) with the offices (white-collar)
When we talk about enterprise social networks (ESN), we imagine employees in front of their computers, exchanging with each other about their good practices. But what about the workers in the field, the so-called “blue-collar workers “*? Should they be excluded from the social network? Of course not! Far from being banned from it, they use it in the same way as their counterparts in the offices.
By providing email-free access to an enterprise social network, geographical distances, business and social differences are abolished. The enterprise social network then embodies the existence of a single enterprise. It allows to convey the values of the company, its culture and to know each other better. It is also the ideal channel to promote the roles and achievements of each individual.
As a result, a sense of belonging to the company grows among employees, as well as a feeling of recognition.
* blue-collar workers: generic name (in reference to the blue overalls of blue-collar workers) to designate workers in the field: employees, workers and technicians in industry, construction, hotels and restaurants, commerce, health, tourism or local authorities.
Multiple communities to exchange, organize and inform one another
Thanks to the enterprise social network, field workers (also called “deskless workers” or “frontline workers”) can connect with their peers. They share information about their job or skills, and can meet in discussion groups (by job, team, geographical location, project or interest) to exchange and organize themselves. This is the case for services with staggered working hours, for example. “The Campanile Hotel in Lyon Centre uses our enterprise social network and the morning and evening teams are delighted. Since they have been using it, the transmission of information is much smoother and more efficient,” explains Benoît Renoul, CMO at talkspirit.
The ESN is also a place for exchanging best practices. At Traiteurs de France, for example, chefs exchange information about their recipes and upcoming events. Being able to talk to colleagues they never get the chance to meet (one is based in Brest, the other in the Parisian region) allows them to both enrich their knowledge and feel part of a community.
In the groups/communities, the discussions can of course also extend to other areas, sometimes extra-professional. After all, the enterprise social network conveys conviviality. “In many companies there is, for example, a Running group, which allows employees to organize jogging sessions at lunchtime,” says Benoît Renoul.
Giving everyone a voice
Your employees in the field have valuable information. But in a large structure it is difficult to bring it up. In a large store network, you may be able to collect data from store managers or even team leaders, but you won’t get feedback from the salesperson, for example. Thanks to the enterprise social network, your “blue collar workers” will be able to post all sorts of information: a security breach, a dangerous place in a store, a spilled product that causes cleanliness problems, …
Feedback is facilitated with the social network. Any employee can launch a discussion group, comment, contribute to a debate, answer or initiate a survey, propose ideas… On the ESN, we can set up a collaborative watch, which will allow everyone to share news or good practices found here and there.
Blue collar or white collar: anyone who posts a message, takes part in a discussion or launches a survey becomes audible. He or she takes part in the debate, in the eyes of everyone. Giving everyone a voice makes it possible to go beyond purely top-down communication and show that all employees can make their opinions heard. The enterprise social network gives them the opportunity to express themselves “in front of witnesses” (= their colleagues) and to keep track of what has been discussed, because all publications are time-stamped. This also contributes to the good integration of the field teams in the company.
Fluidify internal communication
The enterprise social network simplifies the dissemination of information within the company, “in 3 dimensions”: top down, bottom up and transversal. As mentioned above, thanks to the ESN, all employees (including blue collar workers) can initiate discussions, debates and share ideas. Moreover, it simplifies personal interactions in real time thanks to chat and video call, and gives the possibility to share an event with the rest of the company in real time (via video livestream, for example).
By being connected to the same social network as their colleagues, deskless (or frontline) workers have access to the same internal communication as their colleagues in the office, and at the same time. “This is the basis for building a sense of unity,” comments Benoît Renoul.
On a daily basis, the ESN allows them to benefit from useful tools such as the directory for example, whose search engine (by name, location, skill…) allows them to find the right contact on a given subject, at any time. By speeding up identification and contact, the enterprise social network makes it possible to develop agility, flexibility and speed in exchanges between employees.
Read also: 8 advantages of using an enterprise social network
Facilitating the integration of new recruits
The integration of the “deskless workers” is already active in the company, but there is also a better integration of new employees! As soon as they arrive, they will be integrated into their relevant groups on the ESN and immediately find the flow of information they need. In the same way as people who have been in the company for several years. No more risk that new employees are left out of the email channels already in place!
In groups/communities, everyone has access to the same information. The latest subscribers have access to all the exchanges that took place before their arrival, which allows them to find the anteriority of the exchanges, the context of the decisions…All the exchanges or documents are centralized in the same place (and no longer dispersed in individual email boxes). As a result, the departure of an employee does not create any loss of information and, conversely, a new recruit has access to all the elements and the history of the exchanges from the day of his arrival. An invaluable time saving for management and employees!
Connection vs. Disconnection
By definition, employees in the field do not work on a PC. And the majority of them don’t have a business phone either. Assuming that the ESN gives them access to a lot of useful information and allows them to exchange more easily with their colleagues at work, why should they be deprived?
But in order to have access to the enterprise social network, they will have to download the application to their personal smartphone …. Yet, is it acceptable to ask employees to do this? How many will agree to install a professional application on their home phone? “On this subject, there is no single answer. The company can offer this possibility to its blue collar workers, but in an optional form. Secondly, employee buy-in varies from one company to another, depending on many criteria such as corporate culture, type of job or the degree of attachment to the company. But almost always the reception is very enthusiastic!” notes Benoît Renoul.
The enterprise social network is a professional application that simplifies the daily life of employees, and they make no mistake about it. Whether they are white-collar workers (in the office) or blue-collar workers (in the field). On one condition: guarantee them a “right to disconnect”: i.e. the possibility to deactivate notifications outside their working hours, to protect their personal life.
As you will have understood, the enterprise social network is a great tool to develop the sense of belonging of field employees! It helps to create a better atmosphere, strengthen the corporate culture and improve internal cohesion.
It also creates a better “employee experience”, which makes your company more attractive to candidates and improves their working environment. Finally, giving each employee the opportunity to speak increases their motivation. And their daily commitment will only get better!
Also read: 5 Communication Challenges of Multi-Site Businesses
Author: Laure Marchal