Frontline workers play a crucial role in various industries and sectors, like healthcare, construction, retail, education, public safety, utilities, and infrastructure.
These individuals are at the forefront of daily operations, providing essential services and directly interacting with customers, clients, or patients. They are vital contributors to the functioning of society and the global economy. 80% of the world’s workforce falls under the frontline category. But the latest frontline statistics show the workforce is evolving. A global pandemic, a shift in attitudes toward them, and better technology to support them is pushing a new future for frontline workers.
To support and manage their frontline workers to build productivity and boost employee satisfaction, leaders need to keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest trends and statistics to learn how to better engage with their teams. Too often, frontline leaders lack the insight to really know what their workers want and don’t use the right tools. That often leads to challenges like:
- Communication issues and barriers
- Low engagement
- Lack of collaboration and cohesion of teams
- Poor relationships between managers and workers
- Little or no proper training methods for frontline workers
But with the digital tools in today’s world, companies can leverage mobile technology to eliminate these pain points and meet the unique needs of frontline employees. The benefits will quickly follow. Recognizing and addressing the needs of frontline workers is crucial for creating a resilient and supportive work environment. And these frontline statistics can help shed light on how to take action.
Current State of Frontline Workers
Every frontline metric tells a story. It can reveal something about what a company is, or is not, doing. It can reveal why employees are not engaged in their jobs. It can demonstrate the lack of investment by companies in their frontlines. It can reveal why retention numbers are so low.
Let’s start with 10 eye-opening frontline statistics on the current state of the workforce:
- 90% of companies rely in some way on frontline workers.
- Manufacturing is adding 3.4 million jobs over the coming years, but 2 million jobs will go unfilled due to a major skills gap and lack of workforce training as technology, AI, and machine learning play a bigger role.
- Workers who must be onsite and cannot work remotely (like frontline workers) have 29% lower engagement than those who have either hybrid or remote jobs.
- 70% of frontline managers want more training to do better in their jobs but are not receiving it from their companies.
- Revealing the true nature of frontline disconnect, 65% of frontline leaders believe they have effective communication strategies, but only 35% of frontline workers feel heard. BONUS stat related to this: 89% of frontline workers will stay with their companies if leaders listen to their feedback.
- A mere 23% of frontline workers say they have digital tools to help them in their jobs.
- As technology accelerates in almost every industry, only 14% of frontline workers report receiving any training in artificial intelligence (the dominant technology in this revolution) but 86% say they need it for their jobs.
- 50% of frontline workers are ready to quit their jobs in search of a better experience.
- A disconnect between leadership and frontline workers fuels the rampant employee disengagement statistics. CEOs only spend 3% of their time engaging with frontline workers despite their enormous reliance on them.
- The frontline manager and employee connection is the most critical one that impacts frontline engagement. But 53% of frontline managers are burned out, which means they are not giving their frontline workers the attention they need to stay engaged and productive.
The events of the past few years, especially the global pandemic, have not been good for frontline workers in particular. But it’s also ignited a greater awareness of their critical role in the global economy and everyday life.
5 Emerging Trends for 2024 and Beyond
With this new awareness of who are frontline workers and the role they play, the trends for 2024 and beyond are all about addressing the inequalities that workers have struggled with. Technology will be more inclusive of all workers, meaning companies will shift to mobile-first communication tools to reach every employee anywhere they happen to work. And in this day and age, with the effects of labor shortage and skills gap issues, leaders will get hyper-focused on talent acquisition and retention.
1. Frontline Recruiting and Retention Get Top Billing
Frontline worker retention is a critical aspect of human resources management, particularly in industries where employees are directly involved in providing services, engaging with customers, or producing goods. HR professionals are taking new tactics to focus on recruiting. They’re leveraging the power of AI to automate routine tasks and paperwork so they can add value where it matters most—building a talent pipeline and improving the employee experience.
They’ll focus on things like:
- Competitive Compensation:
- Ensure that frontline workers receive competitive wages and benefits.
- Regularly review and adjust salaries based on market trends and industry standards.
- Recognition and Appreciation:
- Implement employee recognition programs to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of frontline workers.
- Provide regular feedback and praise for a job well done.
- Career Development Opportunities:
- Offer training and development programs to help frontline workers enhance their skills.
- Clearly communicate career paths and advancement opportunities within the organization.
- Work-Life Balance:
- Promote a healthy work-life balance by implementing flexible scheduling and providing adequate time off.
- Be mindful of overtime and ensure fair compensation for extra hours worked.
- Safe and Supportive Work Environment:
- Prioritize employee safety and well-being.
- Foster a positive work environment with open communication channels and support systems.
- Employee Engagement:
- Implement initiatives to boost employee engagement, such as team-building activities and events.
- Encourage feedback and involvement in decision-making processes.
- Health and Wellness Programs:
- Offer health and wellness programs to address both physical and mental well-being.
- Provide access to resources like counseling services and wellness activities.
By implementing these strategies, HR professionals can contribute to creating a positive work environment that supports the retention of frontline workers. It’s essential to continuously assess and adjust these strategies based on the evolving needs of the workforce.
2. Surge in Upskilling and Training
In this era of rapid digital transformation, the workplace is changing. And in industries like manufacturing and construction, there is a massive skills gap. Training is not keeping pace with this transformation. Companies are quickly realizing that it’s time to upskill their workforce for this new era. Even in industries like retail and hospitality, new digital tools are changing the nature of work.
It’s less manual and more automated. Not only will this help strengthen your workforce and establish continuity, but your employees will recognize training as a chance for professional growth that can lead to career advancement in the company, which is a key ingredient for higher retention. There are several stages of training development a company should take:
- Develop Customized Training Programs
- Conduct a thorough assessment of the skills gap by identifying the specific skills and knowledge areas lacking among frontline workers. Develop customized training programs tailored to the specific needs of your organization identified in the skills gap assessment.
- On-the-Job Training
- Implement on-the-job training (OJT) programs that allow frontline workers to learn and apply new skills in their actual work environment.
- E-Learning Platforms
- Utilize e-learning platforms to provide flexible and accessible training modules. Offer online courses and resources that can be accessed at the convenience of frontline workers.
- Mentorship Programs
- Establish mentorship programs where experienced workers mentor those with less experience.
- Encourage knowledge-sharing and create a supportive learning environment.
- Collaboration with Educational Institutions
- Establish partnerships with educational institutions, like community colleges or trade associations, to provide specialized training or certification programs.
By implementing a comprehensive training strategy that addresses the identified skills gap, organizations can empower frontline workers to perform their duties effectively while fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
3. Mobile-First Tools For the Frontline
Finally, frontline leaders are realizing they have long neglected to include frontline workers in employee technology. And that means they’ve missed out on delivering exactly what frontline workers want and need. And it’s not always compensation.
8 out of 10 frontline workers quit due to not getting their emotional needs met. Now, companies are finally employing mobile-first tools to include frontline teams in company communication. And not only are the leaders sending the messages, but they are actively seeking frontline feedback to improve the employee experience.
The ability to disseminate information across an entire organization at the same time (and in real time) improves not only engagement but it also increases workplace safety. It also empowers workers in job performance by giving them access to the information they need all on their mobile device: from equipment information to safety protocols to time sheets. Companies can make a tool like Beekeeper a central hub for all work-related information. (And it’s okay to use it to build community and camaraderie: announce a birthday or give kudos to a job well done.)
Some tips for using these mobile-first tools effectively are:
Strengthen communication channels between frontline managers and their teams.
- Establish clear communication channels between frontline workers and management. This creates a way for them to have regular check-ins since many frontline employees are in their own areas and out of sight.
Use pulse surveys to create a culture of employee feedback.
- Don’t just pay lip service. Thoroughly review and address concerns promptly and transparently. Take action on employee advice and create discussions around what is important to them.
Treat mobile-first tools as your new intranet.
- A mobile-first digital tool is dynamic and two-way. It offers a zillion more possibilities than the old, static intranets that companies used to use. Encourage engagement on the app which will translate to higher engagement at work overall.
Achieve an effective rollout by showing employees how easy it is to download and use the app, companies can lower the barriers to user adoption and ensure full engagement.
4. Investing in Frontline Managers
Frontline managers play a crucial role in organizations, acting as a bridge between upper management and frontline employees. They are responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, managing teams, and ensuring that organizational goals are met. But often, they don’t receive the proper training to be good leaders themselves. And when a manager is a strong leader with good soft skills, they can boost their team’s retention chances by 300%.
You’ve hired the managers to do a job. Delegate the responsibility they’ve earned and be transparent with information so they can analyze it and contribute ideas that can improve your operation. At bigger companies with 10,000 employees or more, sharing data with frontline managers can save $300 million and generate $200 million in new revenue.
Here are ways companies can invest in frontline managers to unleash their potential and make them the best they can be.
- Give them digital tools to create a direct line of communication with their employees.
- Give managers opportunities for leadership training.
- Ensure that frontline managers receive training on fostering diversity and inclusion within their teams.
- Establish mentorship programs for your managers, just like you do for your employees, so they can learn and grow from those with more experience.
- Invest in technology, especially AI-powered tools, that can help automate those administrative tasks to free managers up to focus on their teams.
- Recognize and reward frontline managers for their achievements and contributions.
- Link performance metrics to incentive programs to motivate and retain talented managers.
- Acknowledge the importance of manager well-being by offering programs that focus on stress management, work-life balance, and mental health support.
- Implement succession planning strategies to identify and groom high-potential managers for future leadership roles.
Investing in frontline managers is a strategic move that can have significant positive impacts on organizational performance, employee satisfaction, and overall workplace effectiveness.
5. Preparing the Frontline for the Age of AI
Artificial intelligence is here and it’s only getting more powerful in today’s workplace. Can it be misused? Absolutely. But AI-powered tools have the power to make companies run more efficiently, reduce waste and redundancy, and increase revenue. And it will change the nature of work, eliminating those manual tasks and leaving humans to flex their cerebral muscles for value add innovations.
Extend the benefits to your frontline teams. Give them AI-powered communication tools, like a mobile productivity app that make their everyday jobs better. For example, in manufacturing companies can create a connected environment with IoT systems and take workers off assembly lines for a safer environment in which they can control equipment from their mobile devices. In retail, AI can handle inventory management so employees can focus on the customer experience.
How to Thrive in the New Frontline Future
It’s full steam ahead as companies embrace what’s to come. The trends will set companies up for long-term success. They establish a path forward, but companies need to make investments in technology and their people for this all to work.
As companies prepare for this next chapter, they can set a culture of adaptability to prepare workers at all levels for bigger and smaller shifts. For younger workers who tend to be much more digitally savvy, working with mobile-first technology is how they function in their everyday lives. But for older generations of workers who have worked a certain way for possibly decades, these shifts will seem monumental at first. Creating a culture of ease and adaptability will help them adjust and be open to this new way.
- Here’s your chance to practice change management strategies. Explain how new operational methods and new ways of doing things and communicating will benefit both individual workers and will make the company more competitive and profitable to get buy in at all levels.
- When rolling out a digital tool that workers use on their mobile devices, make sure you have individual or group training sessions for anyone who needs it. Onboarding a new tool is a critical period for getting higher engagement numbers.
- Choosing the right tool for your company is vital to its success. Mobile-first tools are not all fit for a frontline work environment. A productivity solution like Beekeeper is designed with the frontline workforce in mind. Not only does it have the ISO 27001 certification that protects companies, but it is also an easily customizable tool for any frontline business that encourages engagement on the platform.
Leaders need to remember that changes don’t have to happen all at once. They can be incremental. As each change brings benefits, companies will be more likely to continue on their journey until they’ve reached set KPI goals and the frontline metric levels they’ve set.
Changing the Frontline Statistics of the Future
Frontline workers have long held the title of lowest engaged demographic in the workforce. It’s time to change that trend.
As a company deeply invested in empowering frontline workers around the world and supporting frontline businesses by making their operation the best it can be, Beekeeper is designed with the features that will connect and engage employees no matter where they work. From direct messages to dedicated communication streams to surveys, there are numerous ways people can interact in real-time within an organization. And it’s all built for two-way communication to finally give frontline workers the voice that’s gone unheard and the power to share what they want. (Hint: more training and greater flexibility are high up on the list.)
How do we know? Not only did Beekeeper’s founder Cristian Grossmann once work on the production floor of a manufacturing operation, but Beekeeper’s team gets their own feedback.
A journey begins with a single step. And the first step should be implementing a mobile-first productivity tool. Then, those frontline statistics will start to change as retention and engagement go up, and the future begins to look brighter.