How to Engage Non-Desk Employees

From the fulfillment center to the retail sales floor, all employees should feel that they contribute to the company’s mission 





The folks who deliver lunch orders, change hospital bed linens, and help expecting parents decide on a stroller make up over 80 percent of the working population. However, managers face persistent challenges helping their non-desk employees feel engaged in their work, and connected to the company’s values.


Recent studies show that nearly half of non-desk employees can’t access company intranet. More inclusive tech can certainly make engagement between departments and recognition for employee contributions standard operating procedure. 


But companies with many different kinds of teams performing different kinds of work need a more comprehensive strategy to involve everybody in a single, nurturing workplace community. 


These proven engagement strategies can help large companies bring all their moving parts together to make work more fulfilling. 




  • Company-wide communications platform (Mobile app, Slack, & Teams) 


Eighty-three percent of non-desk employees do not have a corporate email address. Email has serious limitations anyway—recent studies suggest that as many as 38 percent of employees may even quit their jobs due to “email fatigue,” the overwhelming feeling that they can never read and respond to everything in their inbox. 


Most companies already use great work communications platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Aside from being fun and familiar to most employees, these platforms can be integrated with other engagement initiatives, including your social impact and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. 


If your non-desk employees are already on Slack or Teams, or if it’s not feasible to extend your account size to include them there, a dedicated mobile and desktop app can be an effective solution. The most inclusive apps streamline the registration process for non-desk employees. By providing a virtual hub where employees can share their thoughts, experiences, and passions directly with one another, you can help foster genuine community. 


  • Volunteerism and charitable giving


When colleagues meet outside of the office—as non-desk employees do every day—it can be difficult to engage with one another on subjects other than work. So after making it as easy as possible for employees to connect with one another, what should we encourage them to talk about and do together?


Sixty-three percent of employees want their employers to provide more opportunities to find greater purpose in their day-to-day work. When employees know which of their colleagues cared about the causes that matter most to them, they are more likely to reach out and form genuine connections around shared passions. Together, they can seek out or even self-organize fundraisers and volunteer events to make a meaningful difference in their local communities and around the world. 


Non-desk employees do not always get the same amount of facetime with their colleagues as those who work in an office. They would value the opportunity to form new connections and make a positive impact by donating their time, money, and skills to causes close to their heart. 


  • Cross-departmental ERGs


Folks who may or may not normally work together are increasingly coming together to run volunteer events, invite speakers, organize fundraisers, and workshop company policies around shared passions under the guise of employee resource groups (ERGs). Ninety percent of Fortune 500s have had ERGs for more than five years, and their leadership has sparked momentum across markets and industries. 


By putting people and the causes they care about first, ERGs offer a unique way for companies to make a greater social and environmental impact. Whether they’re coming together in an environmentalism-focused ERG to identify opportunities for decarbonization, or celebrating the staff’s diversity of thought and identity, non-desk employees will take greater responsibility for the company’s mission and values by meeting regularly to do good deeds with their friends and colleagues. 


While the appeal spans all generations, it's especially significant with Millennials and Gen Z. The Harvard Business Review reports that 72 percent of 18–24 year-olds are more likely to apply to work for companies with ERGs. Attracting, retaining, and encouraging the kinds of employees who will create that vibrant workplace culture we all crave is achievable if we can offer more opportunities to feel and do good at work. 


  • Strong DEIB policies and culture of recognition


Written policies serve an important function by articulating the company-wide standards for fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in all employees. But establishing those standards in the day-to-day lives of all employees is crucial. 


Drawing from over 30 years of government and private sector labor data, sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev argue that poor DEIB policies, or ones that seem intended only to protect the company from liability rather than authentically empower the workforce, damage the careers of women and people of color. Their recent book Getting to Diversity shows that marginalized groups are less likely to stay in their jobs, advance in their careers, and reach management positions without effective mentorship and recognition. 


Non-desk employees are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in the workplace if they feel seen for who they are and that their opinions matter in company decision-making processes.  




Encouraging authentic human connection in the modern workplace means giving our employees every opportunity to share their thoughts, passions, and experiences with one another—regardless of whether they work on the sales floor or at corporate headquarters. 


With a dedicated virtual space that brings employees together with one another and with nonprofits making a real difference in the cause areas they care about, we believe that even the largest companies can create a groundswell of engagement, purpose, and social/environmental impact. 


Deed Communities gives your employees ample and equal opportunities to come together around shared passions, with features like:  


  • Purpose-driven social network to share good deeds like volunteering and donations with friends and colleagues

  • Interest-based communities that anyone can organize around employee resource groups, favorite causes, giving and volunteering habits, or any other way of doing good together

  • Personalized feed where useful content is aggregated from across all of the user’s communities

Check out what’s coming soon for employees and admins. 



Non-desk employees are vital links in the chain of any organization. Companies that help their employees feel more fulfilled by their work life are seeing two-to-five times higher work and life outcomes by doubling down on purpose. 


Deed is a platform designed to engage all of your employees—no matter where they work—by giving them ample opportunities to do good deeds with their colleagues and meaningfully support the social and environmental causes they care about.


We’re partnering with CSR-leaders like Airbnb and Kyndryl to revolutionize their teams’ engagement in social and environmental impact programs. Book a free demo today to learn how we can help all your employees feel more connected to your mission.

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