No Desk? No Problem. Employee Engagement Tips for Connecting with Non-Connected Employees

If the recent global pandemic did anything positive for the workplace, it was reinforcing the importance of information sharing and connection. Now more than ever, employees want to be engaged in meaningful work and expect their organizations to communicate frequently and transparently about topics that are important to them. Leadership teams have recognized the need for and benefit of re-examining their communications and engagement approach. Many have boosted resources and increased the frequency of emails, intranet content and meetings to better connect with their employees, both in office and remote. Sounds great, right? 

But wait – what about the employees who aren’t digitally connected for most of the day? These employees work on the manufacturing floor, in the warehouse, on the road transporting products, at the service counter and in other roles that are mobile. Are you connecting with them as effectively as with your employees who are sitting at desks or in meetings for most of the day? 

Chances are, you’re not. 

These “non-desk” (for lack of a better term) employees play a critical role in the success of your business. Their day-to-day responsibilities give them a unique perspective on operations, quality, service and logistics – the things that can make or break an organization. And yet, engagement rates are lower and turnover rates are higher for these employees than those of their colleagues. If you’re communicating with all employees equally across your workforce, what gives? 

As part of our employee engagement work at Padilla, we’ve spoken with many non-desk employees across a range of industries to learn more about their communications and engagement challenges. Most have access to company information channels via kiosks, shared laptops or mobile apps. It’s not a lack of access that’s the issue – it’s a lack of understanding about what these employees want and need, and how to best deliver it within their work environment. Here are some of the frustrations we consistently hear: 

  • There’s a disconnect between corporate/headquarters and us. It sometimes feels like we’re two different companies. 
  • Company leaders and communicators don’t have a real understanding of our work environment.  
  • When we’re on the road for the bulk of the workday, we don’t have time to keep checking email to see if we’re missing anything important.  
  • We usually access the company’s intranet for a specific HR-related purpose. We don’t have time to dig around for company information, especially when there is limited access to the kiosk. 
  • We get most of our communications through all-hands emails or the intranet. Most of the information is about what’s happening at headquarters and a lot of it isn’t relevant to us.  
  • We’re genuinely interested in knowing more about how the company is doing, but we don’t know where to find that information and don’t have time to look for it. 
  • We have an important role in the success of our business, but we seldom see content highlighting what we do and why it’s important to the organization.  

When it comes to workplace connections, non-desk employees aren’t looking for special treatment; they want to be met where they are and recognized for their contributions. Given their foundational role in your business, not taking the time and effort to meaningfully connect with them is a business risk that you can’t afford to take. 

Interested in learning more?

If your business has a high percentage of non-desk employees, these tips can help assure they are included in your employee engagement efforts.  

Access: Do your non-desk employees have the same access to information as desk employees? If not, you’re sending a message that non-desk employees aren’t as valued by your company. 

Environment: Do you have an accurate understanding of non-desk workers’ environments? What resources do they have, what’s the noise level, how often can they check email? If you don’t know – visit. Stand where they stand. Do what they do. And talk to them about their daily routines and information needs – what they get, how they get it, and how they prefer to stay informed.  

Channels: Have you considered using multiple formats to best deliver information to non-desk employees? For example: 

  • Company podcasts for transportation professionals 
  • Subtitles on videos shared in loud work environments 
  • Digital and/or traditional signage in manufacturing and warehouse facilities 

Leadership: If you expect managers to cascade information to non-desk employees, are you supporting them with communication tips and templates? Provide resources to make it easier for them to share the information with the right channel and at the right time with employees. 

Digital content: Are employee stories and highlights on the company intranet inclusive of non-desk workers? These teams are doing important work and they want to feel that their contributions are valued. 

Work environments and connectivity vary across organizations, as do the needs of your employees. To learn more about how you can successfully communicate and engage with all employees, download Padilla’s tip sheet. Questions? Connect with Natalie Smith, SVP, Employee Engagement, at [email protected].

For our thoughts on communication, brand strategy, industry trends and more, subscribe to Padilla Insights here.  

If You’re Not Communicating Effectively, You’re Not Leading Effectively

If you’re an executive leading your organization through transformational change, it’s likely that change won’t take place unless people UNDERSTAND what you’re trying to accomplish, APPRECIATE that it needs to happen and ACT in ways that support the change. This is true whether those people are customers, employees, investors or others important to your success. 

This doesn’t happen on its own – it requires strategic clarity, compelling and resonant messaging, the right messengers and a host of different communications methods.  

The problem is that many executives don’t give this more than a passing thought, and it puts their visionary plans at risk.   

Our research has shown that today’s leaders are facing a more complex set of challenges than in any previous generations – the result of not just the hangover of a global pandemic but also stemming from calls for social justice, climate change, political polarization, intractable geopolitical conflict and a whiplash economy. The best leaders are meeting this inherent conflict head-on by creating change-resilient cultures, finding the right level of transparency, putting criticism into context and exhibiting more personal and organizational humanity. 

And they’re communicating differently. They’re being more intentional. They’re sharing more personal stories. They’re listening more. They’re using other voices. And they’re using multiple channels. 

These are the core concepts that executives will learn in our PadillaPrep Executive Communications Foundations training module.  In the module they’ll learn: 

  • The business value of effective communications 
  • The techniques required to break through the noise and avoid adding to the clutter 
  • Setting objectives based on business strategy and audience insights 
  • Telling compelling, repeatable, scalable stories and using them as the container for messaging 
  • Guidance on choosing the right messenger (hint: it isn’t always the biggest title that has the most impact) 
  • Exploration of the different communications methods available and considerations for choosing the right ones 

This module is an excellent springboard for other PadillaPrep courses in our curriculum – presentation effectiveness, media and Q/A spokesperson training, crisis preparedness and others. 

If you’re looking to increase the likelihood that your transformational change initiatives take root and grow, visit to learn more.  

For our thoughts on communication and brand strategy, industry trends and more, subscribe to Padilla Insights here.

How to Make the Most of Your Employees’ In-Office Days

Disney, Starbucks, Twitter – many major companies are making headlines lately for asking their employees to come back to the office most or all days of the week. It’s a risky move, considering most employees prefer to work from home at least some days of the week: according to Gallup, 34% of respondents want to work remotely full-time, and 60% want to work a flexible hybrid schedule. A study by Monster even found that two-thirds of employees would quit if they were required to return to the office full-time.

As a result, most companies have gone the hybrid route, asking their employees to come into the office anywhere from one to four days a week. However, with many employees questioning the need to be in the office at all, even this flexible option requires careful planning and consideration. If you ask employees to come back, but don’t give them a valid reason or set them up for success, you’re setting yourself up for an even bigger engagement and retention problem.

So, here are some tips to ensure you’re making the most of your employees’ in-office days:

  • Explain the “why” – First and foremost, leaders need to explain why they are asking employees to work from the office (and it needs to be better than increased productivity – employees aren’t buying into that one after two years of working productively from home). Maybe it’s about increasing connections and collaboration, or enhancing innovation and creativity, or maintaining your culture. Whatever it is, make sure you explain it to employees, and have real data and examples to back it up.
  • Align with the “why” – You’ve told them why you want them back, now you need to show them you mean it by building in activities that align with the why. For example, if it’s about enhancing connections or boosting collaboration, yet people spend the day working silently with AirPods in and not interacting with each other, what’s the point? Encourage people to interact by hosting activities like office brainstorms, show-and-tell meetings, social events, etc.
  • Plan meetings for in-office days – At Padilla’s Richmond office, Tuesday is the day that all employees come into the office (we call it “Together Day”). Our monthly office meeting is on Tuesdays, and we try to plan any other meetings, trainings, social events, etc. for Tuesdays as well. Another option is for each team to pick the day(s) they all come into the office, so they can plan in-person team meetings, brainstorms, etc. for those days, too.
  • Create an optimal environment – After the past two years, people are used to being able to control their work environment (i.e., their house) and any noise, interruptions, etc. Help employees readapt to the office setting by reminding everyone of basic office etiquette (for example: don’t take a call from your desk using speaker phone; put headphones on or go to a conference room). Also, make sure the technology is working smoothly; if you’ve asked employees to come into the office, make sure they have the tools they need to actually work in the office.
  • Infuse some fun –One of the top reasons employees DO want to go back to the office is for the social aspect, so capitalize on that by making their days in the office fun! Admittedly, that tends to involve food and beverages. At Padilla, we started a ritual called, “Tuesday Treat Day,” where we put out treats every Tuesday at 2 p.m. (we love a good alliteration). We also bring in lunch occasionally, plan happy hour get-togethers, and host office-wide games and competitions.
  • Ask for employee input –If you aren’t sure what will resonate best with your employees, ASK them! Most people won’t be shy about telling you what they want and need for their days in the office. But remember, if you’re going to ask for their input, be prepared to listen and actually use it.

If you’re struggling with getting employees back to the office, or with retaining employees post-pandemic overall, we can help! Reach out to our Employee Engagement team today to learn about the many ways we can support you.

For our thoughts on communication and brand strategy, industry trends and more, subscribe to Padilla Insights here.