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How visual leadership is helping employers strengthen culture amid crisis

Clear and consistent communication between leaders and staff is critical in times of crisis.
Clear and consistent communication between leaders and staff is critical in times of crisis.

Clear and consistent communication between leaders and staff has always been fundamental to workplace culture, and in times of crisis it is even more critical.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, employees who said their employer responded particularly well during the Covid-19 outbreak are four times more likely to be engaged and six times more likely to report a positive state of well-being than those unhappy with their company’s response.

By being readily available and helping employees make sense of the crisis, leaders can build resilience and social capital with their teams, the study found. 

Australia’s major grocery retailers, distributors and logistics companies, which have faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, are increasingly opting for digital platforms to communicate with frontline workers through this ever-changing landscape.

Andrew Myers, VP APAC & Digital Workplace Strategy at WorkJam, said a digital relationship between the employer and the employee can facilitate this essential two-way communication and is a “win-win”. 

“What we have seen is very rapid communication from leaders in businesses, providing information to employees, almost in real time,” Myers said.

“Visual leadership plays an important role, leaders can talk to employees about what is happening via video. The employees working out in the field feel that they’re respected as they are getting the communication first hand as opposed to it being cascaded down the organisation.” 

The mobile-first platform services industries with a large proportion of field staff such as retail, grocery, manufacturing, distribution and food service, and has been proven effective in educating team members about new Covid-19 procedures and schemes such as JobKeeper. 

Supermarket giant Woolworths is among the major retail businesses using the platform, which allows employees to access resources like schedules, training, surveys, documents, policies and procedures on their mobile device.

“Processes have changed around Covid-19 so being able to deliver that communication, in the case of Woolworths to 80,000+ employees, and have them complete the training online has been a real benefit. 

 “We’ve also seen some of our customers use Covid-19 health checks which means customers can get the all clear before they come to work.”

For those businesses that have been forced to close due to the pandemic, often the only way to update employees about developments is through a digital platform. And with “cancel culture” at an all-time high the spotlight is firmly on big brands, with consumers watching closely to see how they treat and communicate with their staff during the crisis.

“It’s two-way communication so you really create that sense of employee engagement and that ability to stay in touch with your workforce,” Myers said. 

“We have what we call target audiences so the communication can be filtered by position, location or role. The ability for someone to communicate to every store manager, or every employee has been a real benefit.”

With Australia’s unemployment rate at a 22-year high of 7.4 per cent due to the pandemic, casual workers are eager to pick up shifts wherever they can. WorkJam’s open shift marketplace is helping staff to do just that, meaning managers don’t need to spend time and resources looking for additional workers.   

“A lot of businesses hire staff for one location, but actually have multiple locations that staff could work across. We can ‘Uberize’ the workforce so the employee can choose the number of locations they wish to work in and can pick up more hours if they want. 

“There are a lot of underutilised workers in retail and hospitality for instance, so the ability for someone to pick up more hours keeps everyone happy. Employee engagement is a lot higher because the decision is in their hands.”

Recently WorkJam launched a task management module that offers end-to-end project management allowing tasks such as compliance checks and safety audits to be scheduled for completion. 

“Some customers are using it for onboarding. As soon as the role has been confirmed the employee gets an invitation to the WorkJam platform where they can complete their employment contract and begin induction.”

While WorkJam is a mobile first digital platform focused on frontline employees, there is also a web-based application for office-based staff and administrators. Myers said it’s about creating a “seamless frictionless experience” for employers and employees.

“Businesses can increase productivity, and perhaps reduce costs in certain areas, so it’s a bit of a win-win for employers and employees.” 

Crisis Management Communications Package

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