In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s paramount to engage and retain your critical workforce. As HR and Operations leaders, you understand the impact that motivated and satisfied employees have on your organization’s success. Our Frontline Engagement Toolkit is designed to help you build and implement an effective frontline employee engagement strategy for your workforce and is specifically tailored to address the unique challenges faced by workers in industries including:
Throughout this toolkit, you’ll gain access to carefully curated resources, including strategies for transparent communication, tools for measuring frontline engagement and turnover costs, and more. These resources will empower you to create a workplace culture that values and supports your frontline employees, boosts employee morale, and ultimately improves customer experience. Don’t forget to bookmark this page and download the toolkit’s resources for future use.
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Engaging a large frontline workforce is complex and challenging. There are global factors like continuous market alterations, supply chain disruptions, and evolving customer needs at play. Then, there are recruitment, engagement, and retainment factors to consider, like workforce productivity, risk management, and labor relations. Every industry experiences its own unique set of challenges, further limiting the solutions that may be available to tackle these distinct needs.
These factors lead to the unique needs of a frontline workforce. Let’s break them down.
Physicality & safety: Frontline workers work in dynamic, sometimes unpredictable environments (stores, factories, hospitals, or outdoor locations), with conditions that can often be physically or mentally demanding.
Accessibility: Frontline workers are diverse, therefore, workplace accessibility should be at the core of your frontline employee engagement strategy.
Real-time communications: Because of the nature of frontline roles, employees must be able to communicate with managers, other employees, and customers in real time and receive immediate feedback.
Bite-sized onboarding & training: The frontline workforce requires frequent, bite-sized training sessions tailored to their specific roles, often focusing on procedures, safety protocols, or customer interaction techniques.
Rigidity in scheduling & flexibility: A frontline workforce is a critical workforce. Their schedules can be more rigid due to shift patterns, especially in 24/7 operations. At the same time, flexibility is becoming more important to frontline workers in a post-COVID landscape. Organizations must learn to create flexible work environments for their frontline employees.
Compensation & benefits structure: The compensation and benefits structure for a frontline workforce is vastly different from that of their corporate counterparts. Unlike salaried corporate workers, frontline workers tend to receive hourly wages, variable comp, overtime, and/or shift differentials. Bonuses may be based on productivity, customer satisfaction, or sales targets.
Career growth: If you want to retain your critical workforce for the long haul, setting up career pathing and opportunities for growth for your frontline workforce is essential.
The vast disconnect: Look for ways to bridge the gap between workers and decision-makers, such as virtual meetings and employee surveys, to ensure that frontline workers are heard, their opinions are taken into account, and there isn’t a disconnect between workers and decision-makers.
Disparate locations: Managing multiple locations, whether nationally or globally, comes with its own unique challenges. Companies need to ensure that all employees have access to the same resources and tools and that investments in technology and training will enable effective collaboration.
Understanding these needs is step one in addressing them. Next, we will talk about strategies to address these needs through a frontline employee engagement program.
Implement the strategies below to address your workers’ unique needs and increase your frontline employee engagement.
In order to engage your frontline workers, you need to commit to investing in them and making an effort to improve their quality of life.
At WorkStep, we’ve identified the top 9 drivers of employee engagement. Master those drivers and you’ll have a positive company culture that engages frontline employees, fosters loyalty, drives satisfaction, and increases employee retention.
A key part of frontline employee engagement is making your workforce feel heard and valued. You should utilize real-time, always-on employee feedback tools to implement a continuous listening strategy to collect feedback, gain valuable insights, and learn what matters most to your workers.
Continuous listening starts with an organization-wide willingness to embrace employee feedback as a positive part of the culture. Second, you’ll need to invest in employee feedback solutions that offer different mechanisms for collecting feedback, including a bi-directional feedback loop functionality so employees and managers can easily communicate back and forth in confidence.
Employee feedback tools are an efficient and cost-effective way to capture and measure employee sentiment and then act on the feedback. These tools can help:
Both HR and Operations teams can utilize these reports for data-driven decision-making purposes that not only support the frontline workers but also boost the bottom line.
You’ve implemented the employee feedback tool and set the trigger events. Now it’s time to act on the feedback. Whether it’s simple (like adding a fan to the break room) or dramatic (like increasing global pay scales), every act can make a difference in your employees’ perception of the company and its leadership, build trust and loyalty, and help with turnover reduction. Make sure you close the loop with employees and that your leaders and managers are trained on how to close the loop.
Once you start to execute your program, you will start to recognize the benefits and improve business outcomes.
Access the four-step process to identify gaps in employee engagement and plot a course for implementing and advancing strategies crucial for retaining your team.
Once you implement your strategies, you’ll need a way of measuring the success and impact of your efforts. Having reliable metrics that measure frontline employee engagement, track workforce performance, and understanding how these metrics change over time can help you identify areas of improvement, see where high engagement already exists within the workplace environment, and determine the program’s success.
Without knowing your true turnover cost, you can’t accurately measure the difference that your frontline employee engagement program makes. Turnover reduction should be the main goal of your strategies as it’s much more costly (and time-consuming) to recruit and onboard new hires than it is to improve the employee experience for the frontline and retain them in your workforce.
In addition to understanding your turnover cost, there are other people analytics key performance indicators that should be measured to gauge the true impact of employee turnover and employee engagement:
Overall retention rate – A critical gauge of baseline workforce stability, the retention rate shows the percentage of employees who stay with you during a specified period.
Milestone retention – The number of new hires who remained employed during a specific measurement period.
Average employee length – Measures the tenure of your entire workforce.
New workforce tenure – Measures the average tenure of new hires from the last 90 days.
Standard turnover – The rate at which employees move in and out of a company.
Annualized turnover – A projected turnover rate is an estimate of how many employees you could lose in the next year if your current turnover rates stay on trend.
Voluntary turnover rate – This is the percentage of employees who leave your organization by choice.
Involuntary turnover rate – This is the employee who leaves a company for reasons beyond their control (e.g. layoffs or termination).
Cost per hire – The cost per hire for a frontline worker takes into consideration both the direct and indirect costs associated with the hiring process. Direct costs might include advertising fees, agency fees, background checks, job fairs, relocation and travel expenses, technology, or testing. Indirect costs might include the time to onboard and train, interviewer time, and internal recruiter salaries.
You understand the benefits of implementing strategies and tools (like the ones in this toolkit) that prioritize frontline employee engagement and create a positive work environment for your critical workforce. Ready to take the next step in the journey of transforming your organization’s employee experience?