One of the most difficult challenges for organizations through pandemic has been frontline employee engagement and retention due to having personal contact as their job requirement. The employees fear their safety will be compromised since it isn’t the organization’s top priority. The organizations therefore need to communicate to their frontline workforce the importance of their safety for the organizations if they don’t want to lose the employees.
Who are Frontline Workers
Healthcare workers, Pharmacies and Drugstores, Emergency and Other Relief Services, Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and Other First Responders (Fire, Police, etc.) Food and Agriculture, Education, Transportation and Logistics (Drivers, Packers, Loaders, etc.), Postal Service Workers, Commercial Facilities, Manufacturing, etc.
They are the face, muscle and in-person-contact-with-customers of the organization comprising 70% of the global workforce.
Why is frontline employee engagement so important
- Because they are kind of the organization-avatar for the customers! They represent your company. They are the first touchpoint/impression of customer experience for your organization.
- Burnt out and disengaged workers are of no help to themselves or the customers they are handling. Keeping frontline workers well, engaged and happy will directly affect the service they are giving to the customers and the brownie points aka revenue + goodwill they earn for the organization by doing so.
- The inclusion beginning from the low wage frontline staff in the employee wellness structure of an organization will strengthen the relationship between the employees and the organization. It will also prove the intent of the organization for a healthy work culture and employee experience sincere.
What major challenges in frontline employee engagement and retention
Ever since the pandemic the priorities have been shifted and employees want fair treatment and pay from their organizations. In the case of frontline employees, a vast majority of them still don’t have the facility to work remotely like the rest. Therefore their fears and concerns are far more than remote working employees.
- Fear of health risk – Frontline staff of an organization are subjected to great physical as well as mental distress due to the nature of their work. And this increased by heaps during covid. Therefore in spite of job openings and pay-raise they are refusing to go back to work unless organizations take full responsibility of their physical and mental wellbieng.
- Low Salary and Benefits– The larger portion of the frontline workforce gets paid lower than average and little to no benefits but hazard higher chances of health compromises than their desk-working counterparts. Therefore, frontline employees want fair treatment and remuneration for their services now all the more.
- Flexibility – Even in working in the frontline, employees want flexibility in work-time to accommodate their personal lives. Freedom of choosing their convenient time will also allow them to work more productively and peacefully.
- No Growth – Frontline employees want to learn and acquire new knowledge and grow their existing skills while working in the organization so they can keep advancing in their career.
- Lack of motivation – Again due to the nature of their work involving dealing with customers face-to-face the stress is both mental and physical. And so getting demotivated occasionally or regularly is natural. And when then in this situation the organization is not taking special measures to lift their mood and spirit, disengagement, productivity loss and thoughts of quitting are also pretty foreseeable.
- Unhappy with Leadership – Disgruntled frontline employees can also be the consequence of ill-matched managers. The managers that are promoted for their technical skills may lack in people management skills and that can lead to discontented employees.
- Digital disconnect – This section of the workforce is overlooked by organizations while implementing digital employee wellness programs. Since frontline jobs mostly involve locomotion, employees can not carry a desktop/laptop around with them checking the latest updates on the employee management/welfare softwares. Also lower income tier frontline workers are largely not conversant with the latest technology. The result is, frontline employees are left out of the newest digital revolution loop, even if accidentally, feeling disconnected from the organization and its internal communication.
- Communication Gap – Most of the time due to the above mentioned point even the well-meaningness of an organization is not rightly communicated to their frontliners. If the employees don’t receive what the organizations are offering them due to lack of proper communication channels and methods then all the well intentions and efforts of the organization will be rendered useless for the employees.
- Lack of confidence in management – The above two points will drive employees not to completely trust or be on the side of the organization. They now don’t believe that the organization cares for them or think they are a part of the organization because they didn’t see any helpful initiative from the organization’s side. Therefore, repercussions will be a lot of unhappy employees flocking to leave the organization, possibly leaving bad reviews. Consequently, this will then put a damper on the brand name and new employees will avoid working in the organization like It is the pandemic.
How technology can boost Frontline Employee Engagement
Other than giving them TLC through fair payment, benefits and compassionate treatment, organizations can utilize technology throughout to build an equitable and healthy work culture and experience for their frontline employees.
- Start from the start – Opt for a digital onboarding process to make your employees feel the warm welcome hug from the beginning without missing any single of them. From sending welcome messages to listing important onboarding documents for them to assigning them mentors – a step by step personalize help delivery.
- Digital inclusion – Like your internal and remote employees, include your frontliners in your team communication and collaboration tools. They shouldn’t feel left out of the innovative and resourceful technology-rich community. It’ll also be easier for you and them both to chart, manage and supervise duties with the help of the latest tools.
- A regular “Hi” – Use push-message technology to check in with your frontliners regularly to find out any difficulty they are facing at work or personally. Prepare support for them and convey through technology again.
- Support learning – Give them learning opportunities alongside work so they have scope to grow themselves and help your organization’s growth too. An executive now can be a manager tomorrow and this’ll be all the better for the organization since their experience and familiarity with the organization will reduce the cost of fresh induction.
- Be transparent – Explain your company’s goals and motivations and what you expect from your people from the go. Express that you care for your employees’ health and wellbeing and are open to their inputs for consideration and even implementation if feasible. Create a digital space for them to initiate conversations related to any conflict or doubt.
- Keep motivating – Don’t forget to incentivize your employees’ performance and motivation through bonus and rewards. Automate birthday/anniversary wishes, promotions, and other celebratory messages and appreciation messages to make them feel valued.
- Help their total wellbeing – Make them aware of the importance of financial, mental and physical wellbeing and help them with the knowledge and achievement of total wellbeing. A proper guidance and nurturing will help them improve their life and career and make them see your care for them.
- Feedback and Suggestions – Periodical collection of feedback and suggestions will help you to know your employees’ issues with the current system and their suggestions will help you with ideas to improve the system. But the key- points here are a) to ask the right questions in the right tone (technology can help you here), and b) to take all the feedback seriously, consider the suggestions and apply the workable ones (your sincerity will help you here)
- Train and fortify your Leaders – Train your leaders in empathy and compassion with other people management skills. Make a space for them to connect and understand the frontliners. Keep them in the loop on all the data collected from regular digital interaction with the employees, so the leaders will understand the employees’ needs thoroughly and help them fittingly.
- A cherishable see-off – All’s well that ends well! Make their retirement a good memory. They should leave with good memories in heart to inspire existing employees and draw the new lot through recommendation.
- Digital literacy – Help them to learn, adapt and adopt the up-to-date technology to be able to use it properly and smoothly. Explain to them the value they will get from using the technology in their day-to-day life. Be patient with them.
- Mobile Communication channels (omnichannel tools) – This can make or break all the above efforts. Since the greater part of your frontline workforce is on the move their technology also needs to be compact and moving. Therefore choose mobile friendly tools to connect, collaborate and inform your employees.
You can automate the whole digital employee engagement process with the help of technology. So now you only have to connect the employee engagement tool to your HRMS with open APIs and the rest is automatic. The journey of the employee experience from onboarding to off-boarding will be taken care of by technology – including the responsibility of the adoption of this new technology among the employees. You just have to sit back and follow all the development on the dashboard and make your due plans of action to help them.
The bottom line is, the increasing resignations and the reluctance to come back to work in frontline employees in spite of job openings and pay-raise is negatively affecting the annual turnover rates of the businesses. Therefore, as soon as organizations accept and adopt the actions and tools needed, they can start working on countering the main issues: retain and engage employees → continue making profit → boost brand name.
How do you engage employees with frontline?
- Compensate them equitably and treat them with empathy and respect
- Appreciate and motivate them with bonus and rewards
- Help them in their career growth
- Listen to their side and communicate to them your care
- Lead with Empathy
- Invest in them technologically
Who are the frontline employees?
Frontline Employees are the person-to-person contact of your organization — who operate from the field or even in from inside the office directly communicating with your customers.
What is the role of frontline employees?
The role of the frontline employees is to perform the tasks that are handed over to them by their desk-working colleagues and seniors. They directly interact with the customers and organizations majorly depend on them for their customers’ satisfaction and good experience which is one of the most important contributor to brand-name building.