Remember the days when placing an employment ad meant a steady stream of applicants would vie for a chance to interview with your company? That’s not the case anymore. Today, there’s fierce competition for talent, especially in the frontline sector. Business leaders need to learn some sure-fire frontline recruiting best practices to attract, hire, and retain workers.
Some studies show that nearly half of frontline workers plan to quit their jobs this year.
According to the U.S. Chamber, industries being hit hard by the frontline labor shortage are food service, healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, which, at last count, had 803,000 job openings in the United States.
While this problem was slowly building, the pandemic accelerated it, awakening this collective consciousness. Worker burnout spiked. People realized they were putting in a lot of effort and not getting the benefits they really wanted from a job. Mindsets shifted from “I want to collect a paycheck” to “I want to like what I do, who I work for, and get paid what I deserve.”
But there is an opportunity for companies here to design a better frontline recruitment process that is more efficient and yields the right talent. Leaders need to do more than just try to fill their headcount. They need to find talent that is the best fit for their company, be engaged and will stick around for the long run.
The Art of Finding the Right Fit: Tips for Frontline Recruiting
Times are tough when it comes to finding people to be on your staff. But that doesn’t mean you need to hire just any candidate who walks through the door. Each and every employee should be the right fit for your company. It will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship and boost the chances they will stay with you longer.
So, what is the right fit?
The best candidate is someone who understands your company’s mission, believes in it, and shares your company’s values in pursuit of goals.
Sure, it’s great to have someone who gets the job done. But it’s also important to enjoy the people you work with. Having friends at work is a good thing (and good for business.) It builds trust and camaraderie, and a deeper commitment to achieving goals together.
1) Identify Your Ideal Candidate
You’ve got a few applications in for an opening. While one might look great on paper, they might not be the best person for the job.
Let’s say you’re looking for a front desk attendant for a hotel. One applicant might be coming from another hotel in that same role. But there might be another who hasn’t worked in a hotel setting but is stellar at creating a great customer experience.
Here are a few tips for frontline recruiting to find your perfect match:
- Experience doesn’t always equal the right hire, especially if your gut tells you they won’t enjoy working for the company or won’t be a good fit.
- A good work ethic can be more valuable than experience. In many cases, the right candidate can learn the skills they need.
- Meet people face to face in an interview to find that ideal candidate. Like with our friends, it often comes down to that click—that feeling you know you’re going to get along! Have a few people interview the candidate, like potential colleagues on that team, the manager, and anyone who might work for that person.
- Be strategic on job ad placement.
2) Create a Compelling Employer Brand
Companies often think of their brands as it relates to their customers. But right now, they also should be looking at their employer brand.
What is an employer brand?
An employer brand is what a company stands for to its staff and job seekers. Characteristics that define an employer brand include culture, values, and mission.
A company with a good employer brand often:
- Make a good product or provide a good service and also treat their employees well.
- Are active in the community around them.
- Make diversity and inclusion a core part of their values.
- Have transparent communication from leadership and create two-way communication so they can listen to what employees have to say.
- Encourage employees at all levels, including the frontlines, to share feedback and insights for a “we’re all in this together” company vibe.
Of the 50 million workers who quit their jobs in 2022, culture was a top reason for leaving their employer.
To get a sense of your employer brand, look no further than your current employees. Send out an anonymous survey to everyone and ask hard-hitting questions about what it’s like to work there.
Here are ten questions to ask your staff:
- Do people feel included?
- Do they feel valued?
- Do they believe there’s room to grow?
- Do they feel supported?
- Do they like their managers and colleagues?
- Do they feel heard?
- Do they feel safe?
- Do they like coming to work every day?
- Do they have fun?
- Would they tell their friends or family to apply for a job here?
You should also review your company’s online reviews on websites like Glassdoor. Websites like that are a resource for potential job applicants to see what their peers are saying from the inside.
Once you’ve gathered your intel, start building your employer brand.
- First, you have to have those values and culture before all else. Those things alone will build your reputation and get people through your door.
- Lead by example. Live your values and demonstrate them every day.
- Train your managers well. Teach them to listen to and support their teams.
- Recognize your employees for a job well done, a birthday, a new child. Make sure they know they are valued in your organization.
- Pay competitive wages and provide a good benefits package.
- Have employee training programs and opportunities for growth within your organization.
- Create opportunities for fun, whether it’s a company retreat, a company picnic, or office Olympics! Make gamification a part of your engagement strategy.
This is a lot of ground to cover. And it’s a lot easier with a mobile-first solution—an employee communication app that reaches everyone in your organization. You can use it to align the entire workforce to the company’s mission and culture, ensure transparent communication, and conduct worker training. And most of all, you create a space to build a community.
Pro tip: An employee app like Beekeeper will have an analytics dashboard to easily track employee engagement. That can give you insight into how well your employer brand strategy is doing!
Your employees are your best ambassadors with ten times the reach that your company does! When they like where they work, they want to bring others into that community. They won’t hesitate to tell others about job openings.
3) Optimize Your Recruitment Funnel
You’ve built your employer brand, have a solid culture, and now you’ve got a job opening. Next step: optimize your recruitment funnel.
A recruitment funnel is a well-crafted talent acquisition strategy that lays out the steps of attracting, finding, and hiring that ideal candidate.
You’ve got a window of time to find and hire the right person for each job. Take too long (a common complaint among job applicants) and you risk losing a great candidate to another position. When you streamline the frontline recruiting process, you’ll keep interested candidates engaged.
Here are the basic steps in a recruitment funnel:
- Source Candidates: This first step identifies where you want to advertise the position. While you can post a job listing on a general job board, social media, and your own website, you should also have a list of targeted places to send the description to in order to source candidates.
- Attract: You want to get potential candidates to click on your posting and read your description. If you’ve put time into your employer brand, that will immediately draw attention to your company. Make sure the job description conveys the benefits of working for your company to get people to apply.
- Applications: Start collecting and reviewing applications and resumes. Narrow down the applicant pool based on the needs of the job and what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate.
- Interview: Set up interviews with qualified candidates with a hiring committee made up of a manager of the team, another employee or two, HR, and any other relevant employees who might engage with this person. Remember, you’re looking for qualifications as well as culture fit.
- Select: Find the person who best fits what you’re looking for.
- Hire: Offer the candidate the job.
- Onboard: Get the candidate up and running and integrated into the team. Use digital tools for employee onboarding—like an employee communication app—to automate the process and paperwork and get the worker up and running faster. (And don’t forget to use the app to publicly welcome a new hire to the company to ensure engagement from day one.)
Current Challenges of Hiring Frontline Workers
The challenges of hiring frontline workers are more complex than the fact that there are more openings than there are applicants.
- There’s a disconnect between what job seekers want and what companies are offering.
- There’s a high level of burnout among the frontline that’s fueling the Great Resignation.
- In this post-pandemic world, stressors have changed for people. Inflation is making the cost of daily living hard to keep up and people are focused on the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones.
- They want more opportunities for career advancement and companies who invest in their future with training.
- Today’s workforce is younger and more diverse. What they want in an employer is much different than what yesterday’s workers wanted. (Think: more workplace tech and a strong culture as opposed to just good wages.)
Companies need to do a deep dive into where their offerings lack in meeting the needs of today’s frontline workers. With a younger generation, they need to accelerate their digital transformation and shift to a mobile-first communication mindset.
Frontline Recruiting Best Practices
Once companies identify the areas they need to improve to attract candidates, they should follow these top tips for frontline recruiting.
1) Develop a Clear Job Description
Be clear and specific in job descriptions and what the role involves. You might also be required to list the salary. For example, the California Pay Transparency Law went into effect on January 1st, 2023, and requires companies with at least 15 employees to list the pay scale with job postings.
2) Use Social Media and Online Job Boards to Attract Candidates
Frontline candidates don’t always use the mainstream job boards that an office worker might. It’s important to know where they look for jobs. Remember that today’s workers are skewing younger as Baby Boomers make their exit into retirement.
According to Gallup, together Gen Z and Millennials make up 46% of the workforce.
They’re more likely to be on social media so develop a recruitment campaign that meets them where they’re at.
3) Start (or Boost!) Your Employee Referral Program
If we had to pick just ONE tactic to help source more candidates, it would be this one.
Employee referrals are great for several reasons:
- Minimal recruiting costs!
- Referred employees stay with the company longer
- Shorter hiring time
- Better quality candidates
- Boosts morale and engagement of your existing workforce
An employee referral program is especially effective for sourcing candidates in frontline industries. People want to work alongside their friends. Candidates want to join a company where they’ll already have social connections. And hiring managers want to bring people on who are going to be reliable and consistent. It’s a win/win/win.
One of our own customers, Wanzek Construction used Beekeeper to generate over 525 employee referrals in just 3 months.
4) Conduct Effective Interviews
You know that saying, “You never get a second chance at a first impression”? An interview is not only to get to know a candidate, but it’s also their first point of engagement with your company as well.
Here are some tips for making the most of each interview:
- Create a hiring committee that represents different teams and levels to give candidates a sense of the great people you have on your team.
- Make candidates feel comfortable. Smile, introduce everyone in the room, and find a good way to break the ice.
- Develop a list of questions designed to get honest, in-depth answers.
- Always make sure to give candidates an opportunity to ask any questions they have to get to know your company better.
5) Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits
Frontline jobs have long been seen as “low-wage” work. It’s not acceptable anymore, and it’s the reason why 29% of frontliners leave.
Offering a fair living wage is good for retention, makes you more attractive than other companies, and it’s the right thing to do. Frontline workers need better compensation and they deserve it.
6) Create Greater Flexibility for Frontline Workers
Workplace flexibility isn’t only for remote workers. While most frontline jobs require folks to be on-site, leverage your mobile solution to give workers more control over shifts to offer them the flexibility they want to manage their own schedules.
7) Provide Training and Development Opportunities
According to McKinsey, 75% of frontline workers want to advance within their company but only 25% do.
Companies should develop clear paths toward career growth. Offer skills courses and create a mentorships program. And be sure to let job candidates know there is room for growth early in the frontline recruitment process to keep your company high on their list.
Retention Strategies for Frontline Employees
You’ve found your ideal candidates, hired them, and built a solid team. But your job isn’t over. Next step? Work on frontline retention strategies to get them to stay!
1) Create a Positive Company Culture
If your company is built on transparent two-way communication, prioritizes diversity, equality, and inclusion, and truly values the contributions of each and every employee, chances are you’ve built a solid company culture that people want to be a part of. But remember that culture should not be an incidental outcome. It should be a well-designed strategy that is based on your authentic values.
2) Recognize and Reward Employees
Employee recognition is top of the list when it comes to happy workers. Identify when someone has worked hard or provided superior service. Give them a shout out on the team app so their colleagues can also recognize a job well done. And it never hurts to reward them with a token of your appreciation.
3) Develop Strong Frontline Managers
According to the Harvard Business Review, 40% of frontline managers are in their first year in a leadership position.
You should make it a point to promote frontline workers to management positions but provide training to teach them how to be effective leaders who engage their teams. Many frontline workers leave because of an insufficient relationship with their direct supervisor.
4) Provide Opportunities for Career Growth
Yes, this is a must-have strategy for both recruiting frontline workers and retaining them. When workers see a future filled with more challenges, movement up the career ladder, and higher pay, they’ll work hard to achieve those goals and move ahead at your company.
5) Conduct Exit Interviews
People will inevitably leave your company. But what you’re trying to avoid is people leaving because of something you did or didn’t do. Make sure to conduct exit interviews. Ask people why they’re leaving, what you could have done to keep them on the team, and any suggestions for how you can improve. Gather these insights and act on them to constantly improve your talent management and improve retention.
Frontline Recruiting Best Practices for Long-Term Success
It’s been proven that having an engaged workforce directly impacts business success. As companies lean into the future, they need to have a dedicated workforce to achieve desired outcomes. Labor shortage or not, developing frontline recruiting best practices is critical to attracting and hiring the right talent for your company and elevating your competitive standing as a business and an employer.