2021 was the year of resilient operations management. Now, looking at 2022, significant transformations are on the horizon. Especially as businesses must navigate the Great Resignation, supply chain pressures, and find the delicate balance between human work and technology.
There are more than five million fewer Americans in the labor force today than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are backfilling open positions while operations managers are trying to squeeze the most out of the processes, technology, and talent to stay ahead. And, in some cases, to stay open.
There’s no doubt workplace operations are changing. To keep frontline workers happy and productive, it’s important to know what they want at work. So, we asked them.
Beekeeper’s first-ever Frontline Work Survey asked frontline workers and their managers:
- What they wanted
- What they worry about
- What motivated them
- What they love/hate about their mobile tech stack at work
Our 2022 Frontline Trends Report is coming soon! But for now, we’ve included some of our key findings throughout this article. Let’s take a look at what operations managers can look forward to in 2022!
What Will Operations Management Look Like In 2022?
2022 will be a pivotal moment for operations managers. Businesses are becoming accustomed to doing more with less. And with the global labor shortage and supply chain disruptions, that means businesses are maximizing the capacity of their existing workforce by:
- Automating repetitive and time-consuming processes
- Streamlining communication tools and technology
- Connecting your frontline workforces
Organizations will also be looking to improve processes while striking the right balance between humans and technology — which is why automation will play a central role.
In essence, 2022 will be the year to optimize productivity while keeping people at the forefront of the business. And staying ahead of top trends in operations management will help you realize your operations management goals in the next year.
Here are the top trends in operations management for 2022!
1. Staffing Shortages Are Causing Stress – But They Don’t Have To
According to our Frontline Work Survey, staffing is the #1 stressor for frontline employees. The challenging labor market is leaving frontline teams unstaffed. So, employees are picking up more of the slack, becoming overwhelmed and overworked in the process.
Not only are frontline workers concerned about understaffing, but they’re also asking for more predictable shifts. According to a Fast Company study, a lack of stability in an employee’s work schedule can negatively impact their sleep and overall happiness in the long term.
The concerns around staffing are actually an excellent opportunity for operations managers in 2022. The labor struggle doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon. But, adopting shift scheduling technology can help alleviate some of the stress by:
- Providing instant access to new shift schedules
- Making it easier to connect with co-workers to switch shifts
- Including automated approval capabilities for frontline team leads
2. Acting On Common Motivators For Frontline Employees and Team Leaders
Frontline team leads believe the key to retention is a friendly and open work culture. Almost 60% of team leads said culture was highly effective in retaining employees in our survey. However, frontline workers themselves are less concerned about culture and more focused on things that directly impact their day-to-day jobs like staffing and context around policy changes.
The good news is managers and frontline workers both share the same intrinsic motivations. Our survey revealed that these include feedback, doing a good job at work, and learning new skills.
It’s critical to tap into these motivating factors to ensure successful operations in 2022. Here are some ways your business can do just that:
- Audit your frontline technology landscape to ensure it includes feedback channels
- Invest in automation for your frontline
- Improve shift scheduling
- Invest in training for both frontliners and team leads
3. Creating A Frontline-First Workplace Experience
A critical finding of our survey is that frontline workers want to connect to the bigger picture of the business. In fact, 86% of frontliners said having context around why and when things change is important to their happiness.
Providing this context to frontline workers is beneficial for operations managers for two key reasons:
- It builds a connection between frontline value and the broader vision
- It boosts motivation and efficiency
It isn’t easy to understand the value you bring if you don’t know how it feeds into the company’s vision. Communicating the bigger picture helps frontliners connect the dots on where and how they add value. And, in the long term, frontline staff will be more motivated and productive.
4. Prioritizing Employee Wellbeing
It’s no secret that frontline workers do the back-breaking work of the company. From working the production line to tidying hotel rooms to stocking shelves – they do it all.
So, when it comes to creating a frontline-first employee experience, employees’ physical and mental health must be prioritized in 2022 — and doing this successfully will require everyone to get involved, especially operations managers.
Our survey found that frontline workers still struggle when it comes to physical discomfort at work. Many of them mentioned their work could be made better by seeing daylight or having a place to sit down.
Additionally, burnout and increased anxiety are among the top causes fueling frontline exits in the Great Resignation. In a recent CDC study, more than half of health care worker respondents reported at least one symptom of mental health condition. And PTSD symptoms were 10%–20% higher than that previously reported.
Employee health and safety has been front and center in business conversations since the onset of COVID-19 – and that’s exactly where it will stay. But 2022 will bring an even sharper focus on physical and mental well-being, so employees have the support they need to perform at their best.
5. Automating Processes In The Face Of The Great Resignation
In June 2021, 632,000 workers quit retail jobs. That’s just one month – just in retail. For the majority of the year, roughly 4% of the retail workforce quit. In September, almost one million hospitality and leisure workers left the industry.
There is no question that retaining talent will be the number one priority for companies in 2022. So, businesses are putting power and resources behind process optimizations that go beyond system unification.
For example, a key trend in operations management for 2022 is automation. Not only does it make life easier for frontline managers, but it makes workers happier.
Studies have found 74% of employees in the most automated companies say automation improves job satisfaction.
With the right tools and technology, automating processes for the frontline can be done in mere minutes. For example, frontline managers can use platforms like Beekeeper to send out automated alerts when the new staffing schedule is available. Or they can set up an automated approval process for PTO and sick leave.
Automation doesn’t just improve employee morale.
- Boosts operational efficiency
- Streamlines workflows
- Ensures accuracy and consistency across the business
- Enhances the overall frontline employee experience
6. Unifying Disparate Systems For A Seamless Frontline Tech Experience
Frontline workers are juggling a lot right now. And, as operations managers, it’s critical to simplify processes where you can so your mission-critical workers can focus on what’s best for the business.
Frontline employees currently make up the majority of workers in the U.S. However, in 2020, only 49% of frontline staff members were enabled with mobile devices. That means more than half of our essential workforce isn’t receiving company news, information, or communication in a way that is most accessible for them.
Our survey revealed that a major pain point for frontline workers is having to sift through disjointed information across multiple platforms. Can you imagine how difficult it is jumping from platform to platform, app to app just to find an answer to a quick question?
“Too many applications. They try to make it easier, but all that happens is more things to look at and respond to on a daily basis.”– Beekeeper Frontline Survey Respondent
Here’s a snapshot of all the different systems frontline workers keep up with in addition to Beekeeper:
- 57% of team leads with access to Beekeeper still use WhatsApp or SMS for work
- Over 25% of team leads use other communication tools such as Slack or Teams alongside Beekeeper
- Over 40% of team leads use an employee portal or intranet alongside Beekeeper
- 20% of team leads use specialist shift planning tools
- 34% of team leads use a separate app for paystubs
- 25% of team leads request time off via a separate app
- 18% of team leads use task management software
Without a centralized, digital source for information, workflows are disconnected, clunky, and inefficient. When frontline workers can’t find information when they need it most, it can waste an average of three hours per worker each week.
One of the leading trends in operations management in 2022 will be unifying all your systems under a “new work nucleus” for a better frontline employee experience.
Under one centralized mobile platform, operations managers will:
- Connect people, processes, systems, and documents
- Cut down on time spent tracking down information
- Optimize employee productivity
2022 is a new year, which means new chances to turn operational challenges into great opportunities. By staying ahead of these trends, operations managers can ensure they’re adopting processes, tools, and protocols that make for a great employee experience when frontline staff needs it most.