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Frontline workers remain isolated in India: Facebook report

Frontline workers remain isolated in India: Facebook report
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NEW DELHI: One in four frontline employees in India don’t feel connected to their head office and three in four such staffers are miles away from reaching out to the executive class, a “Workplace from Facebook” report said on Thursday.

The report titled “Deskless Not Voiceless” by Workplace, an enterprise connectivity platform developed by Facebook, looked at disconnect between how Indian frontline workers communicate and collaborate with their counterparts in a company’s headquarters.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,200 business leaders and frontline employees in Indian businesses with more than 100 employees, concluded that there is a gap between how managers and frontline staffs communicate and get work done.

Nearly all (95 per cent) of frontline employees said their company has internal communication barriers and they lack the tools, means and context to share new ideas with their employers.

Frontline workers say one of the biggest barriers (60 per cent) to sharing ideas internally is that they must report everything through their immediate manager.

Yet many of them don’t have email, and only half (53 per cent) have access to real-time digital collaboration tools. In turn, 76 per cent still rely on formal conversation to communicate, the findings showed.

“The research found that there is a communication failure between managers and frontline workers in India, which is leading to feelings of isolation and disengagement, stifling innovation and creativity,” said Luke McNeal, Director, APAC, Workplace.

“Deskless employees told us that they struggle to feel connected to head office and company leaders, that there are barriers to communicating internally without the means, context, and tools needed to reach decision makers. And that they don’t feel empowered to share new ideas,” he added.

While 61 per cent of business leaders say they see the value of nurturing frontline employees’ thoughts and ideas, 95 per cent say they see the overall value that frontline workers bring to a business.

However, just 66 per cent have actually visited their frontline workers in the past year. The gap is even more pronounced in industries such as architecture.

Nearly all (98 per cent) of Indian frontline employees say they’ve had an idea to better their company, but more than a quarter (27 per cent) say those ideas are lost internally.

“This disconnect is inhibiting growth. To combat this, businesses must focus on engaging with their entire workforce, especially those who don’t sit in HQ,” said McNeal.

Almost all frontline employees (99 per cent) agree that ideas should come from all levels of the business, yet just 35 per cent see ideas bubbling up from the frontline, said the report.

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