If you were to look up “workforce productivity” online, you’d get a lot of formal definitions. There are complex formulas, strictly defined KPIs, and instructions for calculating ROI.
But behind those numbers are people. And people can never be reduced to formulas.
When you’re looking for how to improve workforce productivity among frontline workers, it’s important to consider what workers are experiencing. You have to think about their frustrations, obstacles, and motivations, and find ways to support them.
These six steps for improving workforce productivity are designed to make the lives of frontline workers better. And that will be reflected in your numbers.
Why Frontline Workers Face Productivity Challenges
If you want to know how to improve workforce productivity, you first have to understand the obstacles to being productive. All workers experience them, but many of the obstacles frontline workers face are unique.
These often include:
- An inability to receive key messages and communications in a timely manner
- Lack of interaction with colleagues at other locations
- Disconnect from central corporate structure
- Limited understanding of broader company goals and their role in achieving them
- Fewer training opportunities
- Frustration with learning processes
- Lack of recognition
All of this can lead to decreased productivity for two reasons. The first is straightforward: if a worker doesn’t know the best way to do things, they won’t be efficient in their role.
What isn’t as obvious is the impact these factors have on motivation. When employees feel disconnected from their peers, from management, and from goals, work doesn’t seem as important. If they aren’t recognized, they don’t always know the importance of their work.
Engaged, motivated employees perform better. According to Gallup’s 2021 State of the American Workplace, companies in the top quartile of employee motivation enjoy:
- 27% rise in profit
- 50% rise in sales
- 50% rise in customer loyalty
- 38% rise in productivity
More motivation. More information. More productivity. More profit. But how do you get there?
How to Improve Workforce Productivity on the Frontline
These steps provide a roadmap for supporting frontline workers and removing the barriers to productivity.
1. Streamline Your Onboarding Process
Onboarding frontline workers can be challenging. They are learning in different facilities and at different times of the day, often while customers are coming in and out and the lines are moving. As a result, it takes an average of 65 hours to onboard a frontline worker.
Streamlining and improving the onboarding process can help employees start off on the right foot as quickly as possible. Some of the most powerful ways to enhance onboarding include:
- Centralize information and communication
- Automate workflows
- Create on-the-go learning programs
- Employ language support to overcome language barriers
- Provide mobile access to guidelines, resources, and training materials
When you start with effective onboarding, employees feel supported from day one.
2. Provide Continuous Learning Opportunities
Onboarding is only the beginning of an employee’s learning. Processes change. Programs evolve. New lines are introduced, and new products need to be sold. But if employees are expected to adjust their workflows and approaches without proper training and support, work becomes frustrating and demotivating.
Giving frontline workers a central place to access communications, training, and documentation reduces those frustrations, expands their knowledge, and makes change easier. In fact, 86% of employees say that getting context about change speeds up adoption. That translates to a more engaged, knowledgeable, and productive workforce.
3. Clearly Identify Goals
Imagine you’re a frontline worker in a retail store. You’re moving goods, working with customers, dealing with complaints, and constantly implementing new policies sent out by HQ. That’s all fine—that’s the job. But if you aren’t working toward anything, it can start to feel a bit meaningless.
Employees need to see the point of what they do. Communicating company goals, accomplishments, strategies, and outcomes through a centralized hub helps employees develop a sense of purpose and see themselves as part of something bigger.
That big vision matters. It can help frontline workers see the value of their work more clearly and transform how they perform their jobs.
4. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Communication
Frontline workers are experts in frontline work. They know what’s happening on the ground and have a wealth of knowledge to share. But too often, frontline workers have limited opportunities to communicate with their peers, whether it’s because their shifts don’t overlap or because they’re on the other side of the world.
Giving employees meaningful tools for peer-to-peer communication allows them to:
- Learn from each other
- Share tips about managing obstacles
- Provide training on both common and uncommon scenarios
- Joke around about frustrations and build a sense of community
If you’re wondering how to improve workforce productivity, don’t underestimate the importance of the last factor. Having a peer group that understands what you’re going through is crucial, and an open atmosphere leads to a better exchange of ideas.
5. Remove Obstacles to Accessing Information
Nearly 50% of employees have difficulties finding relevant paperwork. This includes handbooks, product catalogs, process manuals, troubleshooting guides, and other items essential for day-to-day operations. It’s even more of a challenge for frontline workers who aren’t sitting behind a computer all day.
Centralizing paperwork and creating a mobile-friendly way for frontline employees to search for and access information dramatically reduces this time waste. It also helps workers feel more empowered and confident rather than lost and unsure. Ultimately, that translates to a more competent and productive workforce.
6. Boost Employee Recognition Programs
Everybody wants to be recognized for the work they do. Everyone wants to feel seen.
Recognition isn’t just good for people, it’s good for business:
- 72% of businesses agree that better recognition improves employee motivation
- Recognition programs increase production by 11%
- Productivity, performance, and engagement are 14% higher at workplaces with quality recognition programs
With purpose-built communication and collaboration tools, implementing recognition programs for frontline workers is easier than ever before.
Better Technology for Better Communication
Understanding how to improve workforce productivity when that workforce is on the frontline is vital to creating the company culture you want and getting the results you need. A mobile-first communication and collaboration platform helps you do it.
With Beekeeper, you can give workers the support they need to optimize productivity. Whether it’s a better onboarding process, streamlined internal communication, or easy access to ongoing learning materials, our innovative platform expands the possibilities of frontline workforce management.
Frontline workers are driving the success of your business. Supporting them, seeing them, and listening to them is the best way to help them reach their potential.