Frontline workers are the backbone to what makes organizations successful. In the Manufacturing industry these roles often have high turnover or organizations have difficulty filling the open positions. Take a look at this report completed by the Workforce Institute at UKG on The Resilience of Manufacturing and you will quickly find information on the staffing challenges for the manufacturing industry. Of the organizations interviewed in the US:
52% had higher-than-average employee turnover
49% had difficulty acquiring skilled talent
38% had difficulty retaining skilled talent
Attendance was a persistent problem that also led to significant turnover or loss in productivity
At Microsoft, our vision is to "empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more" and as such we are putting a lot of focus on employee experiences to engage and empower all employees from the CEO to the shift worker. This article will focus on how Microsoft Viva Connections, a module from our Employee Experience Platform, will bring various capabilities to the frontline through Microsoft Teams to assist in combating some of the challenges the industry faces when it comes to people.
I have had various conversations with my customers over the last year with regards to the Frontline workforce. It has been interesting to hear all the various perspectives and a lot have me feeling like we truly need to transform the mindset for this workforce. Early on, the conversations focused on just ensuring they had the right tools to do their tasks and a shared account or device with which to login. This mindset is not empowering and is certainly not engaging. I liken it to an ant colony where the queen is the back office, and the drones are the shift workers.
For some of my customers these conversations started to shift to how can they begin to engage with this workforce, improve skilling, build a sense of community, provide the resources they need at their fingertips, and overall, just boost sentiment. Some of the best ideas for organizations can come from the Frontline workers, the more they are engaged the more ideas will flow. Ideas that could improve processes, provide cost savings or perhaps safety improvements. If we help these workers see their value and give them recognition, the more they will feel empowered and the more engaged they will be.
First Stop – Key Considerations
A couple of key considerations before we jump into where Viva Connections can provide benefits. Frontline workers need their own identities. This is an important aspect to tailoring content to users and can boost their sense of belonging. Remember, they are not drones but individuals with their own thoughts and ideas. Give them their own identity so they can easily share and be recognized.
Lots of Frontline workers only have access to kiosks or maybe shared devices like tablets or other handhelds. In some manufacturing organizations devices may not even be allowed on the plant floor if they are not intrinsically safe or don’t have hands-free capabilities. Consider enabling users to bring their own device (BYOD) or at least access the content from a browser at home. There are plenty of security options to ensure company resources remain safe and ways to request attestation that they want to access the tools while off the clock and won’t be paid for that time.
Before we can talk about Viva Connections lets first take a quick stop at Microsoft Teams. With over 145 million daily active users in Microsoft Teams and growing we already know it’s a powerful tool. Teams is where your Frontline workers can thrive. Today, knowledge workers gain many benefits from Teams and it’s the same for Frontline just with a different focus. We will explore the other capabilities of Teams for Frontline in other articles. For today, let’s keep in mind that Teams is where people go to get work done, join meetings, and now access Viva Connections. Everything in one app makes it easier to find what they need.
Onwards to Viva Connections
Viva Connections is about informing and engaging your employees to inspire them to bring their best selves to work. Connections can deliver targeted content to the user based on groups they are a part of or their role to ensure they are getting the right information. Not only that but you have the options to have these pages show in multiple languages. Let’s look at some ways this could be used.
Corporate News – News that is intended for everyone in the organization. Ensures members have access to the information that drives the brand. This helps drive that sense of belonging, being in the know, gathering a deeper understanding of the organization’s initiatives and goals.
Regional News – Targeted content to the region the employee is based in. This could be local news that impacts how employees go about their day.
Location News – Targeted to the employee based on the plant they work at. It could be short articles congratulating the teams for meeting production quotas, it could be a new safety protocol that is being initiated at the plant. It could be an employee of the month article pushing forward the goal of ensuring employees see themselves as valued and appreciated.
Employee Resource Groups – A powerful tool to any organization are the resource groups that spin up. These could be for Working Parents, LGBTQIA+, Military, cultural or ethnic communities, etc. These help to drive a sense of community and builds connections creating teams that work better together when they have shared interests.
Events – Quickly see events that may be of interest to them such as Company wide Townhalls or Team Celebrations, and if they missed the event, they could always play back the recordings.
Quick Links – Provide personalized links to users to provide easy access to other sites or resources they may be interested in.
I know you might be thinking that you can do all of this in SharePoint. The great news is that if you are already doing this you can easily enable Viva Connections and bring it into Teams today. Any user licensed to use SharePoint and Teams will have access to Viva Connections.
All the above and more are available today. Where Viva Connections will really shine is when we begin to integrate the dashboard experiences, coming later this year. This will open opportunities to do things like:
Submit Time-off requests
Check your pay
See open tasks
Submit HR request
Give praise/kudos to a teammate
Submit new ideas…
Viva Connections within the Desktop/Browser is available today. The mobile version will arrive later this year as will the Dashboard capabilities. You can follow our evolution for employee experiences at our Viva Blog, https://aka.ms/vivablogs