Over half of U.K. deskless workers (51 per cent) say they’re viewed as expendable by their employer. Plus, almost a third (32 per cent), feel that their corporate, desk-based colleagues regard them as inferior. 

These are the findings from O.C. Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report which gathered data and insights from more than 42,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 27 countries worldwide including 4,818 from the U.K (of which 1,734 are deskless).

Deskless workers comprise 80 per cent of the Global workforce and include offline and essential workers who traditionally work away from a desk. They are emergency workers, and those who keep production lines moving, customers purchasing and organisations functioning. However, despite their crucial roles, the report highlights that many deskless workers are feeling dispensable and side-lined.

Stuart Cheesman, European Strategist of workplace culture expert, O.C. Tanner, commented:

It was not long ago we were clapping the efforts of frontline workers, but many are now feeling unloved and that their contributions don’t matter.

Stuart Cheesman, O.C. Tanner

30 per cent of deskless workers admit they are often talked down to by people in the corporate office, aren’t taken seriously by senior leadership and find that their ideas are quickly minimised or dismissed.

Chessman continues:

Undermining and diminishing the roles of deskless workers is not only morally wrong but isn’t good for business. When deskless workers are made to feel expendable, they are unlikely to stick around and deliver their best work. In contrast, when they feel seen and appreciated by their organisations, the business outcomes are significant including improved staff retention and performance.

The Report recommends educating leaders on how to appreciate and recognise their deskless workers effectively. This includes the messages leaders want to communicate to them, how they can create meaningful and authentic recognition experiences, and how they can nurture a strong sense of belonging for all.

When deskless workers are understood by their leaders, including how they prefer to be recognised and appreciated, there’s a 350 per cent greater chance they’ll choose to stay with their employer another year. They are also 378 per cent more likely to deliver great work and 258 per cent more likely to feel a sense of fulfilment in their jobs.

Chessman is encouraging leaders to recognise the importance of not neglecting deskless workers, highlighting their essential role in an organisation’s success. Leaders are urged to consistently appreciate and respect all employees for their contributions, fostering a compassionate and appreciative workplace culture. Such a culture will ultimately deliver compelling bottom-line results.

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.