I walked into a restaurant the other day and witnessed an all-too-familiar sight in our society. A young hostess at a restaurant was standing there with a painful smile painted on her face, nodding passively as a customer was literally screaming at her. Insults. Threats. Personal attacks.
I’m sure you’ve seen this same scene play out in front of your eyes before. Maybe it was at a movie theater. Maybe it was a coffee shop. Maybe it was with customer service over the phone. Maybe you’ve even been that person.
Why It’s Time to Treat Frontline Workers Like Actual Human Beings
If you’re familiar with the Beekeeper blog, you know that we’re pretty passionate about empowering frontline employees and giving every worker within the organization a voice and the power to make a difference.
That’s why we’re beyond excited to announce this latest update to the Beekeeper platform. . . open text answers in surveys! At first glance, this may sound like a relatively minor improvement, but it’s actually a game-changer for companies who are serious about employee listening and workforce retention.
Picture this: You’re sitting around the conference room having yet another meeting about how the corporate office can better connect and engage with their frontline employees. You’ve tried upping the perks and benefits your company offers. You’ve made significant strides to improve internal communication. You’ve even tested offering above-average hourly pay.
And yet your frontline employees are still leaving your company at an alarming rate. You just can’t seem to suss out what the real problem is that’s driving your core employees away in droves.
What if there was a way to gather feedback about the frontline employee experience directly from your workforce? Would you use it to figure out what’s really going on?
High Turnover for Frontline Employees Is Officially an Epidemic
There is a labor shortage crisis plaguing companies with a high volume of frontline employees. The situation is dire.
“If left unchecked, today’s conditions could easily develop into one of the worst labor shortages of the last 50 years.”
– The Conference Board
Things are so bad that some large companies have become downright desperate to hang on to their frontline workforce. As a result, they’re trying some. . . creative retention strategies.
Here are just a few we’ve seen in the news lately. . .
- Taco Bell is testing out paying their store managers salaries of $100,000 per year!
- McDonald’s just released a new employee app that offers real-time career advice and professional advancement
- Starbucks just announced that its employees will get a free subscription to the meditation app, Headspace, in an effort to champion a new mental health benefit for their workers.
While these attention-grabbing retention strategies may work well for the 24-hour news cycle, are they really what frontline employees want? Are meditation apps and sensational, (and most likely temporary) salaries really more of a PR stunt than a sincere attempt at improving the quality of life for frontline workers?
Here’s a novel idea. . . Why don’t employers just ask their workforce what’s wrong, and what they could be doing better?
Frontline Employees Have Been Ignored for Too Long
Let’s face it. For far too long frontline employees just frankly haven’t been treated that well by their employers, or even by society itself. They’re frequently the undeserving targets of abuse, verbal assaults, and being taken for granted. Is it really a huge surprise that retaining these workers is a challenge?
A recent research report sheds some light on the state of the frontline employee experience in the workforce today. Let’s take a closer look at what the data reveals. . .
- One-third of frontline employees do not receive any formal training.
- 81% believe that improved training will help them feel more engaged and happy.
- 90% want the ability to access information anytime and anywhere as part of their work.
- 79% believe more frequent learning opportunities would help them feel more engaged at work.
The conclusion? Frontline workers just plain deserve better — and they have for a long, long time. They deserve respect, transparency, and real access to economic mobility through professional advancement.
That’s where Beekeeper comes in.
The Solution to Keeping Frontline Workers Motivated and Engaged
What if there was a way to monitor engagement, give your valuable frontline employees a voice, share feedback, take fast action with management, and run transparent communication campaigns with your entire frontline workforce — on one platform, without sending a single email? You’d call us crazy. But we’re not. Scalable, actionable communication is what we’re all about.
The key to real, lasting engagement is to show employees that their voices, opinions, and happiness matter. Monitor data and trends, yes; but also get out there and actually fix their pain points. Get involved. Solve their problems. Show them you’re on their side. The best way to do this is with a great engagement strategy and regular surveys that allow for open text responses.
When people are engaged, they are more productive, perform better, and deliver real results that directly benefit their organization.
Employee Engagement in Action
According to an article in SHRM.org, there are very real business benefits to employee engagement.
Construction-equipment maker Caterpillar’s increased employee engagement resulted in $8.8 million annual savings from decreased attrition, absenteeism, and overtime in a European plant, and a $2 million increase in profit plus a 34 percent increase in highly satisfied customers in a start-up plant.
And isn’t that what everyone dreams of for their workforce? Happy employees who gleefully greet customers and go above and beyond the call of duty because they’re just that motivated to do well at their jobs.
This level of employee engagement and satisfaction doesn’t have to be just a pipe dream. It can actually be a reality for your business.
Employee Engagement Strategies with Beekeeper: What it Actually Looks Like
Now that we’ve established that there’s a pretty serious shortage of frontline workers and that employee engagement is critical in retaining these workers, let’s take a closer look at how you would actually measure employee engagement in the Beekeeper platform with open text survey questions.
Monitor engagement metrics in the Dashboard
There’s plenty of activity on the platform across the organization, and some teams are even checking in daily to do handovers and share updates and resources. However, employee turnover has been higher than usual recently. Why could that be?
Decide on an engagement strategy before your employee morale tanks
Message the leadership team and get their opinions and buy-in, create a plan and share it with them in the Document Library.
Run internal surveys on Beekeeper
Turn on anonymous mode so your employees have the freedom to be completely open and honest. Draft a set of open and multiple-choice questions to drill down to the real pain points of your frontline employees and collect suggestions for improvement.
Just press send, and everyone will receive the survey on their mobile devices! They fill it out in a familiar, instant-message format and submit their answers, which you can see landing in a real-time Analytics Dashboard.
Once the responses are in, it’s time to summarize the results, formulate an action plan, and share it in a post to let your entire workforce know their voices were heard and their feedback will drive change.
Next, you’ll want to follow up with your team leads by sending out a confirmation campaign, (which means they must confirm they have read it). They know what they need to do — it’s in their hands now!
With Beekeeper’s open text option in surveys, you can now ask your workforce questions that you couldn’t before…
- What would help you share work better within your team?
- What would help you be more personally committed to improving your experience working here?
- If we could change one thing to make your workday more enjoyable, what would it be?
- Give an example of the recognition you received from your team lead. What did they say/do?
- What do you value the most about the way we promote health and safety?
- How could we improve?
- Are there any workplace situations where you don’t feel appreciated and valued? What are these situations?
Frontline workers are in hot demand as businesses begin to realize how necessary they are to their survival. Perhaps the biggest lesson to be learned from the current labor shortage crisis is that it’s time to rethink the employee experience for these workers — and it all starts with an employee listening strategy that’s designed to truly make their lives better.