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Adopting HR technology to win the war for deskless workforce: stability in turbulent times

While many organizations have made major shifts during the pandemic to afford flexibility to their office workers by offering remote and hybrid work opportunities, the deskless worker experience is now moving up the priority list. These are the frontline workers who do not sit behind a desk to do their job, and they represent 80% of the global workforce. The pandemic has helped transform the roles many deskless workers play, such as delivery drivers, retail workers, doctors and nurses, to essential workers that keep our society running. However, deskless workers also represent one of the most challenging groups for HR to support, and traditionally deskless-heavy industries have very high turnover rates. With 1 in 3 deskless workers planning their exit within the next six months, this is a critical time for organizations to consider the experiences that 80% of the workforce has while at work. Now is the time to lean on innovative technology and process redesign to improve employee engagement and experience, while thwarting the impact of the Great Resignation.

The good news is that many companies have invested in HR technologies to not only support their remote and hybrid workers, but also implement processes and technologies to enhance the employee experience and streamline the HR functions for their deskless workers. In fact, a recent survey shows record high investments in HR technologies, with talent management tools like learning, recruiting and intelligent technology such as AI and process automation tools leading the growth. In the meantime, HR technology vendors have also developed many innovative new features on their platforms to meet the growing demand to boost productivity and job satisfaction for deskless workers.

For organizations in the deskless-heavy industries, improving HR technology will give them a competitive advantage in the war for the deskless workforce. Below are five key areas for HR professionals in these industries to prioritize to support their employees:

1. Increase accessibility and flexibility

More than ever, companies see the need to have agile, deskless workers that can respond quickly to market changes and demands. Most deskless workers rarely use desktop computers, which makes it crucial for employers to enable mobile technology, and offer personalized, on-demand experiences that allow the deskless workforce to focus on their jobs, like treating patients or assisting customers.

One global healthcare manufacturer in Connecticut with deskless workers operating in shifts enables its workforce by providing handheld devices to workers and making HR platforms accessible via personal devices or kiosks. This organization also utilizes Oracle’s cloud technology suite to enable single sign-on assess and self-service capabilities for their employees. With another example of flexibility, HR leaders at a California-based healthcare organization recently overhauled its traditional HR policies and procedures and began providing hourly employees the ability to elect to work four nine-hour days a week.

By leveraging mobile technology to enable workers to choose their shifts, set their working hours and request time off, employers can empower workers to better balance their work life and maintain their personal well-being.

2. Prioritize employee experience

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been frequent discussions around re-defining the employee experience across areas like applying for jobs, onboarding and offboarding staff, enrolling in benefits, accessing payroll details and providing learning and development opportunities.

For a healthcare organization with more than 80,000 employees, a broader HR strategy was created to focus on employee experience and talent retention. Enhancing the applicant tracking system helped recruiters to effectively attract, engage, and onboard healthcare workers. Once onboard, Nurse Managers can now leverage online toolkits to conduct periodic interviews with newly hired RNs to understand key engagement drivers, identify trends and improve overall RN retention. This organization also simplified the annual performance review process by promoting continuous feedback and check-ins and leveraging in application guided learning to deliver relevant guidance to employees.

3. Foster communication and networking

Deskless workers also need to access information relevant to them and be able to respond quickly to situations in the workplace. HR professionals acknowledge the challenges of communicating with deskless workforce and allowing them to easily collaborate and network with others. Deskless workers are often times the last ones to receive important information because they are constantly on the go. The recent pandemic showed how important it is for healthcare workers, in particular, to be updated with latest protocols and policies, while caring for their patients.

Two-way communication tools have become crucial to support deskless workers. They not only allow workers to stay informed of the key company updates, critical safety requirements and upcoming training, but also enable workers to provide and receive timely feedback and share ideas with others. Companies can foster digital communities to include deskless workers in virtual social events, such as lunch and learn and gatherings, to help celebrate achievements. This community building helps to keep workers connected with their managers and coworkers, wherever they are, and develop a sense of belonging together. They can also leverage adaptive intelligence tools, such as Digital Assistant, to better interact with employees and handle their HR focused questions.

4. Develop workforce skills

Like their deskbound counterparts, deskless workers have to upskill in order to keep up with the rapidly changing future and technology advancement. Digital training has been around for decades, and HR’s focus now is to make training available and easily accessible so workers can access and complete required training during their shifts. Short form learning has also gained popularity with companies developing brief, but engaging videos to retain learners’ attention .

As part of its new hire training, a Tennessee-based transportation company assigns 2-5 minute training videos that span several weeks to new drivers. By delivering engaging content regularly in short bursts, it enables workers to learn in the flow of work and drives knowledge retention.

5. Support coaching and feedback

Since deskless workers frequently do not work in an office, meeting with their managers to have a check-in or discuss career growth can prove to be challenging. This is where innovative technology can help to bridge the gap. We all know timely feedback helps employees to feel connected with their employers. Many companies have been focusing on technologies that can support ongoing feedback, kudos, rewards and recognition to help deskless workers engage and improve productivity.

The pandemic has made obvious the tremendous contribution deskless workers have made to our society and it is key for employers to retain and engage high quality deskless workers in order to gain sustainable competitive advantages. Implementing engaging and user-friendly technologies to enhance the employee experience for deskless workers should be strategic and well thought-out, as it can heavily impact workforce retention and stability. By providing deskless workers better technologies to manage their work effectively and feel connected to the organization, employers can empower deskless workers to be more productive and engaged.

Over the last few years, the leader in technology development helping to organizations to better support their deskless workforce is Oracle. As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, Oracle has invested heavily in its Oracle ME platform, which includes Oracle Journeys, Oracle Touchpoints, Oracle Connections, Oracle HR Helpdesk, Oracle Digital Assistant and Oracle HCM Communicate. The platform helps workers to manage their work and tasks more effectively, solicit and receive feedback, foster deeper connections with colleagues, get immediate answers to questions and receive personalized employee communication.

While the challenge to meet the needs of the deskless workforce is ever-evolving, now is the time for organizations to invest into HR technologies that can help truly meet their workforce where they are, no matter where that may physically be.

To learn more about how your organization can get started with Oracle ME, contact our team today.

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