If you stick to the generally accepted definition of Knowledge Workers, you will envision programmers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, and other white-collar workers, whose line of work requires the one to “think for a living” (Wikipedia). Yet, this definition can cause organizations to overlook the knowledge that exists across their hourly/shift workforce.
The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity. – Peter Drucker
A revolution is coming as shift workers begin to leverage their knowledge across organizations. Employee generated content will usurp and surpass corporate content. Millions of people today learn and get inspired by using Internet tools: YouTube, Pinterest, Wikipedia, etc. The genius of those tools is the all the content is user generated. Viewers “vote” with their eyeballs on the most relevant/valuable content.
Let’s look at some of the areas where employee generated content will replace corporate content:
Learning & Education – Today many organizations have large L&E teams at corporate. These trainers create “approved” content on product and processes that they don’t experience day-to-day themselves. The best content will come from those actually handling the products, working with the customers and out in the field every day. Some compliance trainings (safety, sexual harassment, etc) may still be centralized. Yet, operational trainings (handing that difficult customer, making the sale, creating a compelling store display, efficiently getting your work done, handling weather issues, etc) are best developed by those doing the work.
Marketing – Many companies strive to have one of their marketing messages go viral. And yet, they often fail to leverage their workforce. Imagine a company with over ten thousand shift workers. Allowing them to generate and share content exponentially expands the reach of such messages. For example, workers in sourcing can develop content on how products are sustainably sourced. This content can then be leveraged by employees in the field to comfort customers and share across their own networks, showing pride in their employer. Workers in the field can develop real-world stories of how customers benefit from the products and services being offered. And just like other viral campaigns, the content is much more compelling when it is not coming directly from the company itself.
Corporate Communications – Employees are growing weary of over engineered communications from corporate. Straight talk from executives via short videos is more impactful than lengthy emails ghostwritten or manicured by corporate communication teams. Employees want to engage directly in conversations. Allowing organic feedback on communications creates a much improved feedback loop for top management. In addition, many field workers are capable of sharing their own accomplishments (new site openings, major project accomplishments, hitting targets, etc) rather than waiting for a corporate communication team to award them the honor of being mentioned in a newsletter.
Shifts & Schedules – Employers have routinely told employees when they have to work. But even that is changing. Today progressive employers are offering open shifts, which are unassigned shifts for which employees can apply. Employees determine their own schedules, deciding whether they value more time off or picking up extra shifts for additional income. This even extends past open shifts. Some employers are allowing their shift workers to complete tasks outside of defined shifts and still be compensated. A great example is allowing staff to take new hire or recurring training remotely via mobile devices.
Shift workers have the knowledge to dramatically boost the productivity of their organizations.
This blog post was written by John Keating. The original post can be found here.