Frontline Employee Engagement: How to Succeed

   Minute Read     Employee Engagement

Frontline Employee Engagement: How to Succeed
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    Frontline employees make up around 80% of our workforce worldwide and are a crucial part of any business. Without your frontline staff, your business ceases to exist. Frontline workers are the face of your company, the ones who your customers interact and form bonds with and the ones who will have the biggest impact on your brand's reputation. 

    frontline employee engagement: how to succeed

    So why is that employee engagement has decreased for frontline workers over the past year, but increased for office based workers? Factors like the pandemic and its inevitable impact on health and wellbeing, and the difficulty of working remotely are all likely to have had an impact on engagement. 

    As employee experience, employee well-being and engagement all become more important for employee retention, as an employer you need to make sure that all your employees are engaged, happy and healthy or you’ll be joining the ranks of businesses suffering in The Great Resignation.

    In this blog, we’ll be showing you how you can ensure your frontline workers are engaged, ensuring all workers across your business feel motivated and positive about their role in the workplace. 

    What is Frontline Employee Engagement?

    Frontline workers are employees who must physically show up to their jobs and interact with the public. Nurses, doctors, medical professionals, teachers, politicians, police, those in the food industry, transport, construction, retail and more. From this small list alone, it’s easy to see just how important the people who make up the frontline workforce are and how crucial they are to your business. 

    To engage your frontline employees you must have a focused and targeted communications strategy, empower your leaders and managers to inspire the frontline, create a culture of community and ensure they’re utilising your digital workspace. 

    Businesses want two things - profits and happy customers. Your frontline workforce is the link between your brand and your customers, they are representing your company and what it stands for. 

    Failure to engage your frontline workers will cost your business an average of 34% of employee's annual salary. Disengaged frontline workers cause:

    • A 37% increase in absenteeism
    • 18% lower productivity levels 
    • A 15% decrease in profits 

    ailure to engage employees causes 37% increase in absenteeism, 18% lower productivity levels and 15% decrease in profits

    Frontline employee engagement should be at the top of your agenda… 

    Why is Frontline Employee Engagement Important?

    All your employees should be treated with equal importance, no matter their job role. When all your employees are engaged, you really do reap the rewards. Companies with engaged staff and customers reported a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes compared to companies without engaged employees. 

    Not only this but HR and Internal Communications professionals believe that effective engagement across the whole organisation can have a hugely positive impact on business. How?

    • 46% believe it can improve employee retention
    • 34% predicted that it would align the workforce to corporate goals and toward working as a team
    • 51% see it as an opportunity to increase productivity levels
    • 39% felt it could make sure all workers in the business are reached 

    By having engaged frontline workers you’ll also: 

    • Have the biggest impact when it comes to customers
    • They’ll act as the most important representatives of your brand 
    • They’ll understand and empathise with your customer's pain points the most
    • You’ll create a healthy workplace culture from the bottom up
    • Your employees will have greater job satisfaction 

    Reasons Why Frontline Employees Fall Behind

    Research suggests that there is a huge difference between the engagement of desk-based workers and frontline workers. A fifth of HR and IC professionals admitted to just focusing on employees in the office with only 12% prioritising deskless workers. 

    12% HR and IC professionals mainly focus on office based employees with only 12% prioritising deskless workers

    In the same study, over a third of CIOs expressed how the difference in how desk-based and frontline workers are treated in terms of engagement is a major challenge when it comes to digital progress, with this being felt strongly in the nordics, the UK and the US. 

    But why is it such a challenge to engage frontline employees? For a while companies have centred a lot of their efforts and attention on their desk-based workers, rolling out innovative tech and tools that make collaborating in the office easier. Frontline workers have been left behind in terms of technology and communication adoption and in turn, fail to connect to the broader organisation and its mission and values. 

    Simply put, frontline workers are undervalued compared to desk-based workers. 41% of companies worry that frontline workers lack the necessary skills to make appropriate use of technology enabled insight and more than a third have said that frontline employees are either not qualified or not interested in making more decisions.

    Frontline workers themselves don’t feel appreciated enough and have stressed the need for more support in their physical and mental health and 69% believe that work stress will either stay the same or increase in the coming year. This needs to change. 

    69% of frontline workers believe their work stress will stay the same or increase this year

    Companies need to appreciate and reward their frontline staff. Frontline workers are the best positioned people in your business to attend to your customer's needs and are a huge source of knowledge to make better company decisions. It’s clear that there is a lack of strategy and knowledge on how to engage frontline workers that need to be addressed. We’ll show you how to change this… 

    How to Re-Engage Your Frontline Employees

    After the intensity of the pandemic and the complete restructuring of the way many businesses work it’s important that as we begin to ‘return to normal’, frontline workers are put at the top of the priority list. There’s no time like the present to re-engage and connect with your frontline employees, just follow these tips:  

    Make Use of Technology

    Digital tools and apps aren’t just for your desk based workers. Frontline employees need to be empowered by technology in your  business too. McKinsey and Company found that 43% of organisations who digitally empower frontline employees see excellent progress in their digital transformation efforts

    43% of organisations who digitally empower frontline employees see excellent progress

    Having an easy to use, adaptive intranet that comes with its own mobile app is essential for engaging frontline workers. Customers using Oak Engage’s adaptive technology are achieving 99% engagement in the first 3 months. 

    By having a mobile app, your entire workforce can access all the company related information they need instantly, collaborate with anyone in your workforce and receive instant updates and real time news. 

    Gen Z and Millennials will continue to make up the majority of the workforce, these are generations that have grown up with technology and are used to tech that operates at a high level. 

    Focus On Your Company Culture

    Your company culture isn’t about life in the office or the location your workforce are based at, it’s about how your leaders and employees connect with each other. Focus on connecting employees through company events, physical or virtual! You could use your company intranet to host a digital event or even better, host regular company socials so that a range of departments can mingle. Check out how Buckinghamshire New University did it

    image showing an example of a personalised intranet software platform

    Oak Intranet has brilliant features like hubs. Hubs can be work related or can connect people with similar hobbies and interests. Love music or football? You can set up a hub for that so different employees can connect with one another. Social elements of a digital workspace like these help to foster a sense of community within the workplace and stops workers from feeling isolated and disconnected with one another. 

    Focus On Your Leadership

    Leadership teams have a huge responsibility in influencing the workforce and communicating a company’s values and mission, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. Effective frontline leadership has the ability to create an environment that fosters engagement and morale. 

    Leaders are role models and for frontline employees and so clear communication from senior teams is vital so that employees feel in the loop and have a clear understanding of the part they play in the company as a whole. Having a modern company intranet will ensure senior leadership can communicate quickly and seamlessly to everyone in the workforce. 

    Training and Development 

    When you invest in your employees, they’ll be filled with a sense of purpose. Training frontline workers enables them to progress and thrive in their role and impacts their performance massively. 

    Having the knowledge and skills to perform better will motivate them to work hard and they’ll align with your company's values and mission. Plus, by investing in your employees, you’re investing in your customers.  

    Having a mobile app is essential for the training and development of frontline workers. Your frontline employees don’t have time to read manuals and sheets of paper or watch webinars, they’re deskless - and usually very busy. A mobile app means you can do on the job training as you work rather with all the information at your fingertips, rather than traditional, formalised training sessions. 

    Recognise and Appreciate Your Employees

    Recognition is a huge driver of employee retention, and workers now want direct feedback on a regular basis rather than quarterly and annual reviews. Make sure you let employees know you’ve seen how hard they’re working in anyone to one meetings, in company announcements or utilise features on your intranet like Employee Recognition where you can give employees public recognition for the whole company to see. 

    example of employee recognition on intranet platform

    As well as recognition, reward your employees too. Extra days off, pay rises and early finishes are all welcome. Let them know that their hard work has been worth it. 

    Conclusion

    By focusing on these five steps you can start to prioritise your frontline workforce and ensure they’re engaged and enjoying their work, and ultimately getting the employee experience that they deserve. 

    Victoria

    Vic is one of Oaks Content Marketing Specialists. She specialises in communication and marketing and is also a host on the Comms In A Nutshell podcast for Internal Comms & HR professionals.