Workforce Management Strategies

Key indicators of poor frontline worker productivity

February 15, 2024

Low productivity frontline workers

RESOURCES Key indicators of poor frontline worker productivity

What does it take to measure and improve effective operations management? Pinpointing signs of lagging efficiency and implementing improvement measures are the first steps. By detecting early warnings and applying effective workforce management strategies to empower your frontline staff, you can stimulate business growth.

Key takeaways for managing productivity for the deskless workforce

  • Productivity is a crucial component of customer service, production, and service delivery. Poor productivity from your frontline workforce can have detrimental effects on an organization’s performance, workforce morale, and financial outcomes.
  • High turnover rates and low employee engagement are often precursors to reduced productivity. Tools for operations, like WorkStep can improve productivity by providing real-time insights, enhancing engagement, and reducing turnover through effective communication and employee recognition initiatives.
  • The future success of frontline work relies on optimizing workforce management strategies, addressing training and technology gaps, and embracing emerging technologies like AI and RPA to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and enhance engagement.

The importance of frontline worker productivity

Frontline workers in a manufacturing facility

The frontline workforce plays a critical role within organizations and directly impacts customer service, production, and service delivery. Higher sales, lower costs, and a more effective workforce are achieved by empowering frontline workers.

However, decreased productivity among frontline employees can have far-reaching effects on a business, including:

  • Subpar overall performance
  • Decreased morale
  • Ineffective workforce utilization
  • Diminished creativity
  • Project delays
  • Compromised safety protocols

These issues can collectively and negatively impact the business’s financial performance.

Understanding the factors that affect the frontline workforce management and implementing strategies to foster a positive work environment is key to ensuring their productivity.

How to identify signs of low frontline productivity

How do you measure the productivity of employees?Recognizing signs of low productivity is the first step toward improving performance. Here are some of the key indicators.

High turnover

A high turnover rate among frontline workers can lead to decreased productivity and increased costs, negatively affecting a company’s financial performance.

Low employee engagement

A lack of employee engagement is another indicator of low productivity. Engaged employees are more productive and make fewer errors, so a lack of engagement can seriously hamper frontline productivity and, in turn, profitability. A recent study reported that unengaged or actively disengaged employees account for approximately $1.9 trillion in lost productivity nationally.

Decreased output and efficiency

One of the most evident signs of low productivity is a noticeable decline in output and efficiency. If tasks that were previously completed on time are now taking longer or the overall production output has decreased, it may indicate an employee productivity issue.

How to increase worker productivity

Frontline worker challenges and solutions


The accessibility gap poses a significant challenge to improving the productivity of your frontline workers. To mitigate this, organizations must:

  • Invest in technologies designed specifically for frontline workers
  • Foster a culture of open and transparent communication
  • Provide frontline workers with essential digital tools that are easy to use

Using outdated training methods can also be a challenge as they can lead to reduced efficiency, decreased engagement, and a lack of essential knowledge and skills. Implementing updated, efficient, accessible, and engaging training programs can significantly improve productivity.

By addressing these challenges, organizations can enhance the productivity of their frontline workforce and improve both business performance and customer satisfaction.

Enhancing job satisfaction and employee well-being

Employee engagement and job satisfaction


Productivity and job satisfaction/employee well-being are closely linked. When employees are satisfied and feel healthy, they exhibit enhanced motivation, performance, and effort which leads to improved productivity. They are also less likely to leave, thereby reducing turnover and its associated costs. By continuously gathering employee feedback, whether it be personal  preferences like expanding coffee flavors in the break room or substantial issues such as machinery breakdowns, leadership can proactively implement the necessary changes for enhancing job satisfaction and productivity.

Improve the employee experience for the frontline and increase employee happiness by measuring eNPS using workforce productivity tools like employee satisfaction surveys and check-ins.

Several factors influence job satisfaction among frontline workers, including:

  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Work fulfillment
  • Contribution to others
  • Work recognition
  • A sense of belonging to the organization

Make sure you’re effectively addressing and managing those factors to ensure job satisfaction.

Workforce productivity metrics by industry

Every industry has unique operational challenges. Let’s look at some key indicators by industry.

Workforce Productivity Metrics for Manufacturing

  • Issue response time
  • Frontline engagement rates
  • Quality scores for compliance and safety
  • Customer satisfaction

Workforce Productivity Metrics for Logistics & Transportation

  • Truck driver turnover
  • Warehouse worker retention
  • Rates of work stoppages
  • Equipment downtime
  • Safety issue response

Workforce Productivity Metrics for Retail

  • Turnover rates of seasonal workforce
  • Seasonal workforce engagement
  • Training program engagement
  • Onboarding ramp times
  • Inventory shrinkage
  • Safety risk mitigation
  • Customer satisfaction

Workforce Productivity Metrics for Food & Beverage

  • Safety and compliance rates
  • Frontline employee engagement
  • Staff turnover rates
  • Customer satisfaction rates

Workforce Productivity Metrics for Hospitality and Healthcare

  • Retention rates
  • Guest satisfaction rates
  • Safety performance
  • Onboarding ramp times

Improve worker productivity using employee engagement solutions like WorkStep

Implementing an employee engagement platform like WorkStep is a potential solution to combat low productivity. Designed for the frontline workforce, WorkStep aims to enhance operational effectiveness and reduce turnover rates by analyzing the frontline experience, collecting employee feedback, and offering real-time insights that can increase productivity and workplace satisfaction. The platform empowers employers to implement specific strategies to retain their workforce.

Moreover, WorkStep promotes two-way communication, strategic transparency, and mobile accessibility, addressing poor cross-team communication and encouraging open communication, collaboration, and feedback among employees.

Frontline worker productivity plays a vital role in the success of any organization. From recognizing signs of low productivity to implementing strategies that enhance job satisfaction and employee well-being, every aspect is crucial in driving higher performance. Effective workforce management and the utilization of new technologies are also key factors in optimizing the performance and efficiency of frontline workers.

By acknowledging the key indicators of poor frontline worker productivity, leaders can implement necessary strategies to improve company morale and productivity within their organization. At WorkStep, we believe that employee engagement plays a significant role in addressing workplace issues. We hope that HR and Operations leaders will take the time to learn more about employee listening for the frontline and how it can transform your business for the better.

Tune into your frontline with WorkStep

With the frontline employee engagement platform that delivers the real-time insights you need to take action, retain your workforce, and drive your business forward.

Book a demo today

Kayla Pimentel

Kayla Pimentel, |

Kayla Pimentel serves as a Demand Generation Associate at WorkStep. Leveraging her diverse background in sales and marketing, she is enthusiastic about sharing insights about how to make the frontline a better place to work.