How to drive cohesive employee experience across thousands of miles without a desk

When Hannah Bolte joined Lozier Corporation as Director of Marketing and Communications, one of her goals involved keeping employees connected. This was hard because they used a printed newsletter that HR sent out every three months. Learn how this mode shifted from a manual process to a mobile app, along with challenges and tips learned along the way, in our latest Cohesion Podcast!

The challenge of connecting and communicating with a primarily factory-floor workforce dispersed across five locations and thousands of USA miles required a modern intranet solution. We talked about that rollout, how the content is managed, and how Lozier users feel about it.

Identifying the challenges leading to mobile-first app

Frontline workers make up the bulk of the workforce, and these people don’t have constant access to screen-delivered communications. No wonder the mailed newsletter had been considered the best way to spread news around the company.

The newsletter tended to be outdated by the time it reached Lozier employees, though. Also, there was no way to measure reaction; there was no way to find out what employees thought of the content or how it made them feel.

It was an attempt to connect employees by the best method known at the time, but insofar as effective communications were concerned, there was a long way to go.

Enter the intranet

Hannah moved quickly to make an intranet with real-time news and communication, and she knew right away that a mobile-first system was the only way to go. The communications she planned to send to all corners of Lozier had to be fully accessible by any employee at any time. She found plenty of intranets tailored to desk workers, but most of Lozier’s workforce doesn’t sit at a desk, and this challenge led Hannah to Simpplr, and Lozier Link was born.

“The bulk of our workers work in a manufacturing facility, so daily news and information aren’t just there, bam, on the home page.”

The intranet was light years ahead of the old newsletter. It made it easier for people in different places to talk to each other, and instead of localized news, people could talk about ideas. With the intranet in place, all of Lozier’s employees could be connected, no matter their location.

Creating content that resonates

In the communications business, the frontline workers are the hardest to reach. Traditionally, they receive information on flyers in the break room or from a supervisor during start-up each day. Like this, it’s more difficult to engage people beyond their day-to-day, to make them feel part of something bigger, or to show them their impact on the company and community.

So, with the system in place and accessible to all Lozier workers via the mobile app, what happens regarding content? How can an intranet be filled with information and news that appeals to everyone? Hannah approached this on a trial-and-error basis. Apart from posting obvious content, like company objectives and progress toward company goals, her television reporting background enabled her to use a news website approach where there’s a bit of this, a bit of that, and not everything is hard-focused on a limited number of issues.

“I believe in adding spice to life, if you will. A little bit of everything.”

By paying greater attention to human interest stories, more employees could feel inspired to ignite a spark of innovation across Lozier’s locations. With a fine balance of news and information around company goals and initiatives, intentional culture, and community involvement, Hannah maintains the tone of a quality news outlet.

Portrait of a businessman using a digital tablet in the production line of a factory

Rolling out a new employee experience platform

HR, senior leadership, and IT got together to outline the benefits of the platform. We outlined where we were before and highlighted the advantages of the new system. From the start, they transferred all shift and work schedule information to the platform, so employees had everything instantly at their fingertips at any point in time.

HR champions of the system were sent to all five Lozier locations to emphasize the benefits of the app, and once people knew why it mattered, they got on board. Apart from allowing people to feel more connected, the practical benefits are many.

Instead of using a calling tree, or calling a voicemail number, or waiting for a PA announcement to find out their shifts had been canceled, a push notification for real-time updates keeps employees in the know. “You don’t have to take a personal risk driving miles on that icy road to see if you have to work.”

Also, benefits and pay information is located on the app, in a private space, so that’s always accessible whenever it’s needed. You don’t have to look up regulations in a handbook, make calculations, then write to HR. Everything you need is at hand 24/7.

Engaging everyone company-wide without spamming them

Messages from the CEO have a wide readership, along with items on company goals where they’re “tantalizingly close to a target” and everyone wants to see what happens and feel part of the action.

Generally, senior leadership gets quite a bit of attention, as do the human interest stories. The platform has also offered opportunities for Lozier employees in Joplin, Missouri, to see what’s happening with colleagues in Omaha and this has led to feelings of increased connectivity and better representation across all locations.

There are different levels of notifications because not everybody wants to see absolutely everything. If people are inundated with notifications of content that might not be relevant to them, they’ll tend to switch off to avoid it and miss the important stuff too.

“The notification has got to be worth interrupting someone’s time for,” says Hannah.

Lozier employees love the app

“Employee experience is vital to any company right now,” says Hannah, “because we’re in one of the strangest times ever with regard to the labor market.”

When Lozier Link turned one year old in September 2022, they asked the contributors from each of Lozier’s five locations about using the app and whether they found it beneficial.

Young woman using her mobile phone in large warehouse. Female warehouse worker reading text message on her cell phone. 

“Essentially, it all comes down to improved employee experience. People across the entire company felt more connected, a greater part of the community, with a better understanding of what matters from a company goals’ perspective. Some said they felt better equipped to do their jobs, more in tune with what matters, and able to lead more effectively.”

The company has also started live-streaming their quarterly town halls. This gives everyone a chance to attend in their own time, whether they’re desk workers or on the factory floor. Also, the platform provides consistency which is of huge value.

“There’s no way senior leadership could bounce around five different cities and project the same tone, message, and consistency,” Hannah says, reminding us that these messages are available to everybody at a personally convenient time. “It’s created a regular cadence of communication, presence, and updates about things that matter to our company, to every employee. It’s been a really big move for us.”

And that’s a big takeaway here – it’s a significant shift for any company. Change is hard, and even when it’s for the better, people are often reluctant to change.

Hannah cautions companies new to the employee experience game to give it time and keep moving forward. An effective employee experience strategy is key to success in this area. Use your data to define new ways and confirm what is working. “Focus on areas where you’re trying to increase engagement or where adoption is low. Have conversations about what is perceived as wrong or why people aren’t using communications tools on offer. Above all, remain open-minded and make every effort to understand different mindsets.”

Hear the full conversation here and be sure to subscribe to podcast updates, so you don’t miss any future episodes with insightful communications, HR and IT leaders!

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