Learning & Development

Are Deskless Workers Feeling Increasingly Undervalued?

In a previous blog post, we delved into the world of deskless employees, or the vast 80% of the global workforce that doesn’t operate from a desk. These individuals, ranging from pickers to pilots, play a pivotal role in our economies and touch various facets of our daily lives.

remote employee recognition

However, recent data suggests a concerning trend: Many of these workers, once celebrated during the pandemic, now feel undervalued and overlooked.

Post-Pandemic: The Fading Limelight

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, deskless workers were hailed as heroes. They were the backbone that kept essential services running, ensuring societies functioned despite the challenges.

Yet, as findings from O.C. Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report indicate, the spotlight on these workers has dimmed. Celebrated during the crisis, they have once again receded into the background, with many feeling less visible and valued within their organizations.

A Growing Chasm in the Workplace

The organizational structure in many companies is increasingly divided, which has led to a widening rift between deskless workers and their corporate counterparts.

According to the report, a staggering 50% of these workers feel their organizations treat them as expendable, and only 30% feel seen and valued. These statistics are alarming, especially when considering the essential roles these individuals play.

Furthermore, the data reveals a perception challenge: 40% of deskless workers feel they’re viewed as inferior by office employees. A significant 35% report that senior leaders either minimize or dismiss their contributions. Such perceptions, whether real or perceived, contribute to a workplace where deskless workers feel their efforts aren’t as highly valued as office workers’.

The Disparity in Opportunities and Recognition

When compared with their corporate peers, the disparities become even more evident.

Only 35% of deskless workers feel they have the freedom to take personal breaks compared with 58% of corporate workers. The opportunity for skill development also reveals a gap, with only 45% of deskless workers feeling supported in learning new skills. This is in stark contrast to the 69% of their corporate counterparts who feel the same.

Recognition, a vital component of employee satisfaction, is also lacking. Less than half of the deskless workers reported receiving any form of acknowledgment from their leaders or peers in the past month. Of the few who did, only 26% felt the recognition was meaningful.

The narrative surrounding deskless workers needs a shift. These individuals, essential to the very fabric of our economies, deserve more than just fleeting appreciation. Organizations must bridge the existing gaps, ensuring every employee, regardless of their role, feels valued, recognized, and integral to the company’s success. After all, a workforce that feels appreciated is one that thrives.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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