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How To Engage Frontline Employees?

6 min read
Last Updated on
frontline-employees

Frontline employees are the cornerstone of any successful organization. Frontline workers are in action, often on the literal front lines of their business, rather than operating in an office or a corporate setting.

Definition of frontline employees: "Employees who directly interact with customers."

Frontline employees make up 70% of the globe's work population. It includes retail employees, hospitality crews, health care providers, machine operators, and many others who directly affect customer care and product performance.

The Oxford English Dictionary says a hero is "a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities."

We see instances every day of true frontline heroes in our new COVID-19 world. To keep people safe and secure, these employees are out, helping others, and doing their work.

Let's understand this better with examples of frontline employees relating to the current Covid-19 context.

Examples Of Frontline Employees

1. Healthcare worker

Healthcare staff and first responders are genuinely on the pandemic's front lines, caring for others selflessly. It includes police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and physicians, especially emergency room healthcare workers. It includes home healthcare or in-home assistance to patients. These people employed in environments serving people with high risk are putting their own lives at risk to keep others safe.

2. Essential service providers

They include services such as hospitals, automobile maintenance, convenience stores, and gas stations. During this time, towing companies and highway safety teams have also been supporting people.

It includes key food supply chain workers, such as food manufacturers and logistics workers.

3. Janitorial or sanitation teams

Even in these challenging times, these groups have been working above and beyond. They are doing their best to maintain clean, secure, sanitized homes, public spaces, public transport, and more.

4. Volunteers

These are volunteers associated with food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters, health drinks, and more. Too many people like them are pursuing their hearts to support others while putting themselves at risk of the virus.

We're all thankful for their heroic and continuous efforts.

But unfortunately, organizations tend to forget about frontline employees, despite their tremendous contributions.

The world has 2.7 billion frontline employees. Just 13% of them feel interested at work.

That's lower than the average worker by over 20 percentage points. In new workplace technology, the frontline workforce often receives the least investment and is frequently left out of internal communications.

Organizations also default on technology that is corporate-centered, expecting frontline workers to function around hurdles. At the same time, they are often unseen and unappreciated.

Key Points:

  • Frontline employees are physically separated from technology. Corporate oversight leaves frontline staff with obsolete and inefficient tools without a convenient way to ask for updated instruments.

40 percent of all frontline employees believe their task is more complicated. It is due to the high dependence on obsolete technologies

  • Even if organizations invest in technology for frontline employees, it seldom meets their specific requirements.

75% of frontline employees remain out of the loop, and 50% have no clear understanding of their business.

  • Frontline employees cannot see notifications and access data quickly.And limited information does not only affect individual workers. It also creates a negative customer experience.

  • Even essential communication is a struggle for frontline employees. Indirect organizational contact with frontline workers tends to be a lack of regard for them and their efforts. It makes them feel undervalued and unimportant.

  • Many disgruntled frontline workers inevitably shift to alternative means of communication. They use unapproved messaging apps, which may cause severe threats to the company data.

About half of the frontline workers currently use an unapproved messaging app up to 6 times a day for workplace communication.

How To Engage Frontline Employees?

1. Help them stay connected with the help of technology.

Research by McKinsey & Company shows that 43 percent of companies that digitally empower their frontline workers see excellent success.

There are many easy ways to give frontline workers the resources and knowledge they need to stay linked. One such elegant approach is the use of a social intranet that may include an internal mobile app. It can act as a centralized portal that can provide specific company data to targeted groups of people. It won't matter whether they are using a desktop computer within an office or using a mobile device out in the field. It helps in work schedules, communication, and can also serve as a feedback tool.

Must read: Top 20 Employee Pulse Survey Tools

2. Empower them with tools

Empower your frontline workers with efficient tools and techniques to maximize productivity.

Usually, field workers or teams of field workers share mobile devices. It is permitted to share the tools between employees or groups of employees because they operate at different shift timings.

However, due to the difference in usability, shared devices will cause a significant mess and confusion. In such cases, organizations should provide a means to manage shared devices. Creating device-related policies or device-specific teams will be of great help.

Again, not all field employees are tech-savvy. Most of them are unable to solve problems associated with work applications or tools. They have to be highly reliant on the technical staff in the event of any errors. To get fixed, they have to physically travel and report the system, leading to operational downtime and expenses.

It would be great if an IT admin can start a live session with the system. They can use a remote live view function to see what is going on. The expert can provide a step-by-step procedure to debug and fix the problem in real-time.

3. Boost them with Reward and Recognition

Who doesn't love recognition?

67 percent of managers believe they offer adequate recognition, but just 23 percent of employees agree to it.

So, even though you think you recognize employees perfectly, they surely hold a different view. However, improving appreciation efforts is never wrong, as it improves business results and increases employee satisfaction.

The above mentioned social intranet can be of great benefit to this as well. It can have inbuilt tools that initiate employee rewards and recognition in just a second. Undoubtedly, it will have a significant impact on the productivity of frontline employees too.

4. Provide ample growth opportunities

To give your frontline employees the best opportunity, introduce them to training programs, and upskill them. This strategy motivates frontline workers to be more committed. They would work harder because it ensures a prospect of success in their near future. It is also crucial if you want to reduce employee turnover.

5. Collect their feedback regularly

Many frontline employees have excellent ideas for enhancing the overall workplace experience. Listen to them and implement it if feasible. And if not, communicate them the same.

The frontline worker must understand why you are not going to go ahead with their idea. It will also ensure that you at least heard and considered their suggestions.

When you receive feedback, never go silent as to its progress. It makes employees feel devalued, and you might never hear back from them again.

6. Invest in solid onboarding programs

A 2019 study reveals that 38% of frontline employees have undergone no formal training. Yet another 27% said that the training they got was incomplete, dull, and inefficient.

It brings more tension and pressure on the new frontline workers— from the first day of work- no wonder these individuals are so disengaged.

Pull in the right mix of events, on-the-job training, and certifications that set up frontline employees for success from day one.

Related article: 7 Easy Steps To Build a New Employee Onboarding Process

7. Help them handle the workload.

Frontline employees must have the ability to communicate with frustrated customers either on the phone, through live chat, or in person. Additionally, frontline employees should do multitasking- answering phones, keying in information, and speaking to the customer at the same time. Organizations should enable them with skills to handle these types of daily pressure.

Finally,Empowering Your Frontline Employees Will Lead To:

  • Higher retention.
  • Improved mental health and well being.
  • Better performances.
  • Happier customers.
  • Increased company profits.

We're sure your frontline employees will excel if you follow the above pointers.

Have you discovered new ways to motivate your frontline employees? Share in the comments section below.

This article is written by Susmita Sarma, a digital marketer at Vantage Circle. She was involved with media relations before shifting her interest in research and creative writing. Apart from being a classical music buff, she keeps a keen interest in anchoring and cooking. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com