Frontline workers are the backbone of most organizations; but these employees don’t always get the attention or recognition they deserve. Without desks—and sometimes without email addresses—they are often left out of the loop and uniformed on important company news.
See how ThoughtFarmer provided RFTA with not only a vibrant intranet to engage all employees, but a mobile app that ensured their frontline workers were equipped with the news and resources they needed to be successful in their jobs.
RFTA (Roaring Fork Transportation Authority) is a public transit agency in the Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado that spans from Aspen to Rifle, Colorado. There are approximately 350 employees, (which swells to almost 400 during high tourism seasons) scattered across six offices.
A bumpy ride
Approximately 65% of employees are field employees (bus drivers, mechanics, etc.) and do not have access to email. This meant that they often didn’t receive important news, information, or resources they required to efficiently do their jobs. “We couldn't blast out a company memo because we didn't have email addresses,” recalled Jamie Tatsuno, Communications Manager of RFTA.
RFTA’s scenario isn’t unusual. A recent study found that over 83% of frontline workers don’t have a corporate email address, and 45% don’t even have access to the company intranet when at work. These factors contribute to deskless employees and frontline workers feeling left out, and unaligned with corporate strategies. Furthermore, RFTA’s workaround—a shared company drive—only made matters worse as the information on that drive was outdated, and hard to navigate.
To receive important information and news, RFTA’s field workers had limited options:
- Check their employee box in their breakroom for physical documents, or
- Access the shared company drive through a single workstation located in the breakroom.
This left RFTA with a slew of communication frustrations. For example, bus drivers were often the last to know about corporate news, grants, and company wide projects, and initiatives. “We had complaints where drivers would pick up newspapers and read a story about RFTA, and had no idea this was happening,” said Jamie.
“When I started ten years ago, and up to recently, we used to print memos and stuff them in mail boxes,” recalled Jamie. As Jamie began to take on more internal communication related tasks, she began seeking new and effective ways of communicating with employees.
Also fueling the need for improved internal communication was the pandemic. Information was changing rapidly, and printing out memos to insert into employee mailboxes was no longer sustainable.
“Things really came to a head when COVID-19 hit. I chatted with HR and our CEO Team and we decided that employees needed access to information without email or printing. It was obvious an intranet was the most successful route to achieve our goals.”
The road to success
Through their procurement process, RFTA investigated several potential solutions, but it was ThoughtFarmer that stood out from the competition. “ThoughtFarmer was one of the top choices from the start. They seemed to be very on top of it, and understood our needs.”
One of RFTA’s key criteria was a mobile app. Existing communication methods were failing, and the only way to ensure their frontline workers were kept informed would be to deliver news and information through to their mobile devices.
While many intranet apps offer a ‘watered-down’ version of their platform’s functionality, the ThoughtFarmer mobile app allows users to enjoy the same experience in the mobile version as they enjoy in the desktop version. Features like personalized news feeds, people directory, push notifications, form creation and submission, and search functionality are all available at an employee’s fingertips.
A simple path to deployment and adoption
RFTA started building their new intranet site slowly by strategically creating new pages and gradually adding more content. “At first it was just our admin team that was using it,” recalled Jamie.
The next step was to get employees and end-users involved, which they did through employing some clever adoption tactics. For example, one of the first things they did was make health benefits accessible exclusively through their intranet. For many employees, this was their first experience on their intranet. “Once they were on the intranet they thought it was cool,” said Jamie. Further driving adoption, RFTA also made sure employee pay stubs were accessible through their intranet.
Jamie additionally increased engagement through some of ThoughtFarmer’s features. “I really like using polls on the homepage to engage employees. Sometimes I put trivia questions on there, and other times I insert a ‘would you rather’ type of question.”
Over time, more and more departments have been building out their own team spaces. The department that has surprised Jamie the most was the Vehicle Maintenance department. “Our Vehicle Maintenance department has had really high adoption. They have done a great job in building out a team space. They even have a photo gallery section where they post pictures of crazy bus defects,” said Jamie.
RFTA is impressed with how easy ThoughtFarmer is to use. “When I started using ThoughtFarmer I was super nervous, but it is so intuitive, and it makes so much sense.”
When Jamie does have a question, she relies on the ThoughtFarmer community site. The community site connects ThoughtFarmer users with fellow intranet managers, and provides guidance on everything from installation and training, to best practices, and tips and tricks. And as Jamie knows, if she still has questions she can always turn to her dedicated Customer Service Representative.
Empowered frontline workers
Prior to ThoughtFarmer, bus drivers could only access employee information in the drivers’ lounge. “Often drivers would have to sit and wait for another driver to get off, and then go in and log in, but now they can pull up all that information on the phone.” Now, those same bus drivers can access their company intranet at any time, from any device. And the
mobile app seems to be the most popular method with Jamie estimating that at least one in five employees use the mobile app on a regular basis.
Because ThoughtFarmer’s entire feature set is available from the mobile app, RFTA employees can easily submit requests for business cards, tools, facilities, or time-off through the FormFlow feature. Not only that, RFTA has also added employee training videos to their intranet, which has been a huge benefit for drivers. “Our drivers can now bring up the mobile app and view training videos prior to starting a shift.”
“We used to have a huge communication gap with our field employees. ThoughtFarmer has made it really easy and helpful for these employees. It’s been such an obvious solution to access information,” added Jamie.
A work in progress
An informed and engaged workforce has given RFTA much to celebrate. But, as Jamie understands, every intranet is work in progress, and adoption and engagement can always be improved.
“My main goal is to get everyone to login at least once a week, and to keep the content up to date. A lot of it is retraining employees’ brains to visit the intranet rather than searching the company drive.” She also plans on training departments to upload their own content to their newsfeeds, and empowering more content creators.
In the meantime, RFTA is inspired by how far they have come since deploying ThoughtFarmer.
“We talked about having an intranet for a long time,” said Jamie. “We always said ‘when we get an intranet things will improve’. Thankfully it’s all working out.”
Sounds like RFTA is en route to a great future.