Over the last few years, frontline workers in fields like hospitality, retail, and manufacturing have played a critical role in our society. They’ve propped up the economy, acted as therapists and politicians, and been on the receiving end of a lot of difficult emotions. This has earned them a new level of respect, but it has also presented new obstacles to productivity.
Strategies for increasing productivity for frontline workers need to take into account their challenges, frustrations, needs, and motivations.
There is no quick fix for becoming more productive, but the best way to start is by giving employees the tools, the structure, and the support they need to thrive in any conditions. What that looks like will be unique in every workplace, but there are common threads. For example, 80% of frontline workers say having clear goals, targets, and a way to measure performance is important for their workplace happiness. When they have that, productivity can soar.
Download our 2022 Frontline Trends Report for more insight into what frontline workers need in 2022 to stay productive.
Better Decisions = More Productivity
Every day, frontline employees are faced with dozens of questions that have to be answered in real time. Questions about how to manage customers, when they should be upselling, and whether or not to stop the line all have an impact on your business.
According to a Harvard Business Review report:
87% of survey respondents say their organization will be more successful when frontline workers are empowered to make important decisions in the moment.
That means employees must have the training and the support they need to understand situations as they arise and feel empowered to do what’s right. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in most frontline workforces.
According to the report:
- 24% of frontline businesses say their employees are empowered to make decisions
- 86% think frontline workers need better technology to make better decisions
- 92% think better employee communication strategies would improve long-term performance
- 20% think they are giving employees the right technology
Communication technology isn’t about asking someone a question any time a tough situation arises. It’s about building employee engagement, knowledge, and confidence so frontline workers can make smart decisions quickly. And those smart decisions add up to increased productivity.
6 Strategies for Increasing Productivity for Frontline Workers
When you are looking to increase productivity for frontline workers, you need to start empowering them from day 1. Giving employees the confidence to succeed is a career-long journey.
1. Optimize Your Onboarding
Do you remember your first few weeks at a new job? There’s a lot of new information and a lot of nerves. But the more learning that takes place, the fewer nerves.
Frontline workers are expected to make decisions very quickly, and the more equipped they are to do so, the better their overall experience and productivity will be. By automating training, providing easy access to manuals and other onboarding documents, and by creating (multi-lingual) on-the-go training tools, workers can get up to speed faster and companies can dramatically reduce time-to-productivity of new hires.
It takes an average of 65 hours to onboard an employee. Streamlining your onboarding process with communication technology ensures those hours have a positive long-term impact.
2. Align Company Goals With Individual Performance
Frontline workers generally have a good idea of the “what” of their day-to-day. With the right training and onboarding, they know their roles. What they might not know is the “why” of what they do. How does their performance relate to the company objectives?
Employees are more motivated when they understand how their performance impacts the overall goals of the company. People want to see how they contribute to the bigger picture.
This means business leaders must:
- Consistently communicate strategic objectives
- Tie objectives to the performance of frontline workers
- Show frontline workers how they are part of an overall plan
- Link team performance goals to specific larger objectives
The last one is crucial. People don’t want to reach for an arbitrary number. They want to know why their work is important. That’s key to increasing productivity for frontline workers.
3. Contextualize Changes
Successful businesses don’t stand still. Change is inevitable and essential. But most of the time, change starts in conference rooms. Frontline workers aren’t usually part of the discussion. By the time they hear about it, the decision has already been made.
Changes that seem arbitrary can be frustrating and lead to slower adoption. That’s why context is needed for any changes. In fact, 86% of frontline workers say having context around why and when things change is important for their workplace happiness.
- Telling employees how the decision was made
- Demonstrating how the change aligns with business goals
- Telling the employees what the changes mean for them
- Having a space (real or virtual) to ask questions, give feedback, and weigh in
Thoughtfully and transparently implementing change can improve process adoption rates and increase morale. Make your people part of the program, and they are more likely to buy into that program.
4. Remove Obstacles to Work
The average frontline worker spends an average of 3 hours a week looking for the information they need to do their jobs.
Lack of quick access to documentation, training manuals, and product information takes time away from actual work and is extremely frustrating. It limits an employee’s ability to make good decisions and can dramatically diminish job performance.
Increasing productivity for frontline workers requires that employees have the information they need when they need it. That’s key to frontline success.
5. Accelerate and Expand Employee Recognition
What matters most to your frontline employees? Of course they want to be fairly compensated. They want a chance at promotion. But for many employees, what matters most is being recognized for what they do. According to a Fortune survey:
37% of respondents stated that more personal recognition would encourage them to produce better work more often.
Many companies do year-end or end-of-quarter recognition programs, and a handful of standouts get awards. That’s a good start, but using a digital workplace to frequently call out high-performing employees makes recognition more consistent and universal.
Employees need to be incentivized to do their best work. Recognizing people who take initiative and go above and beyond is a great way to encourage similar behavior throughout your frontline workforce.
6. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Communication and Collaboration
It’s easy for frontline workers to communicate with their immediate colleagues that work on the same shifts. But it’s much harder for these workers to learn from peers at other locations.
Bottom-up communication tools that allow employees to share ideas, troubleshoot problems, and discuss successful (and unsuccessful) approaches expands the network of knowledge within your organization. It also connects frontline workers to the larger team, and thus, the larger goal.
No one learns by themselves. Communication is collaboration. Expanding opportunities for communication gives everyone a better base for making better decisions.
Smart Digital Workplaces Connect Frontline Workers
More communication means more collaboration and more knowledge. Better connectivity means fewer obstacles to work. Better training and continuous context help workers adapt to change. All of that leads to smarter decisions by frontline workers.
Beekeeper is an all-in-one technology solution that connects frontline workers to each other and the larger organization. It fosters a sense of belonging, promotes engagement, and provides practical tools that make everyday work better. It’s empowering, and it’s the key to increasing productivity for frontline workers.