Super-app reconnects Abellio’s deskless workers and management to foster a more inclusive culture
Bus operator Abellio London has rolled out Blink, a mobile app that connects management with frontline, or deskless, workers.
Abellio, which operates bus services on behalf of Transport for London and serves 430,000 customers across Greater London every day, will connect its 2,800 employees across six depots and Transport UK Rail Replacement services through Blink’s super-app. Employees can connect, share information and communicate with each other wherever they are which, until now, had been impossible.
Abellio’s investment in Blink gives every worker digital connectivity to the organisation and each other, improving convenience, flexibility and inclusion. This investment forms part of Abellio’s ongoing initiatives to support inclusion within the business and tackle the national bus driver shortage. Transport for London recently revealed they were operating with a shortage of 2,510 drivers, and nationwide, many operators are still experiencing significant staff shortages, with bus vacancy rate at 6.8%, resulting in recent calls for bus drivers to be added to the Shortage Occupation List so operators can recruit drivers from abroad.
Due to the nature of their work, frontline teams – such as bus drivers – are often subject to manual processes and paperwork. They might not have immediate access to some of the tools or information that support them to deliver a positive experience to customers. Across the UK, frontline teams can feel disconnected from the rest of the workforce and, in some cases, undervalued: recent research found that only 39% of frontline workers feel heard, and that 42% are considering quitting their job.
Blink tackles these issues head-on. Beyond communication, the Blink app provides seamless, always-on access to external applications across any device. Abellio’s bus drivers only need to sign into Blink once via secure Single Sign On in order to gain access to all the key systems and information needed for their roles, including the driver allocation system (DAS); payslip information and payslips; and company updates and information that have traditionally been shared by depot notice boards, social media groups or via their line managers.
Previously, drivers needed to access multiple systems to complete certain aspects of their role which was time-consuming and required different passwords and/or access to a computer. Mobile-first with desktop capabilities, Blink brings everything together in one super-app for Abellio’s drivers and management team. Drivers can complete their day-to-day tasks or reports via their phones in real-time and are kept in the loop at the same time as everyone else in the organisation. Crucially, they are able to directly communicate and share feedback with their senior leadership team, giving them a greater say in what’s happening.
“Abellio actively champions inclusivity, as a business that employs 43 different nationalities, we have always prided ourselves on our inclusive culture,” commented Abellio Operations and HR Director, Lorna Murphy. “Differences are very much valued, and our company’s success depends on it. We needed an inclusive and simple way to bring our teams together and wanted to offer greater access to information and process for our frontline drivers.
“Blink fosters inclusiveness because everyone in the organisation has a mobile phone, meaning they can log in and access everything they need from wherever they are. It enables two-way conversations and brings connectivity to everyone in the business.”
Sean Nolan, CEO and Co-Founder of Blink, added: “Abellio London is on a mission to put a stop to the frontline worker gap and bring a sense of belonging to employees wherever they are. It recognises just how much an engaged frontline directly impacts how successful they are as a team. Amongst our customers we have seen that by fostering a more engaged and inclusive culture, productivity, quality, care, commitment, and retention will surely follow.
“The company is doing this by putting better company information at their drivers’ fingertips, while giving managers real-time access to frontline intelligence on employee performance and engagement. This will save them hundreds of hours, which they had been previously losing to disparate communications channels.”
The Blink app will also replace all the paper-based forms that currently require drivers to return to depot to complete. Thanks to the app’s intuitive interface, drivers can manage their schedules, payment information, and form-filling from wherever they are and whatever their technical ability.
Murphy added: “Using Blink, Abellio bus drivers can access a system of simple pathways that makes it easy for them to report issues, start a conversation with management or colleagues, or go about their day-to-day tasks such as checking shifts and accessing payslips, reconnecting them back to the organisation they work for via one simple, easy-to-use app.
“At a time when recruitment and retention in the industry is paramount, we hope that Blink, and tools like it, will support teams to feel connected to the business. Blink will help us to create a vibrant and open culture that champions better employee engagement, and give our drivers a channel through which they can voice their queries, ideas and concerns.”
As well as providing company-wide communications, Abellio can use Blink to create specific groups for supported work conversations, something that has been proven beneficial for employee wellness. Blink’s frontline intelligence and analysis capabilities will also help the leadership team to understand what employees need to perform, and how best to deliver it.
Blink has been proven to reach 95% of employees and reduce employee turnover by 26%. It also triples response rates, sees five times the number of adoption of tools thanks to its single sign-on (SSO), and gets a nine out of ten ‘ease of use’ rating from end users.