Addressing Frontline Employee Engagement Challenges is a Must
Frontline employee engagement challenges need to be identified and overcome if organisations are to thrive. After all, it is these workers who are, more often than not, the ‘boots on the ground’ for many organisations; they are the heartbeat of these businesses. But they are also the most overlooked and disconnected.
Defining Employee Engagement Challenges on the Frontline
While performing their duties, frontline employees can feel removed from a company’s core. Being frequently on the go and under pressure to deliver on service expectations can further the feeling of disconnect. This can result in a sense of exclusion from particular interactions and internal communications or worse, a diminished sense of team belonging.
Identifying Frontline Employee Engagement Challenges
Apart from a feeling of disconnection, employees on the frontline can face several other key challenges that impact their work performance.
- Human Resources
A study focused on linking employee performance to business outcomes found that human resource managers often spend their days ‘encouraging’ frontline managers and workers in terms of performing their work duties. However, the study found not enough effort was put into making frontline employees aware that human resource departments offer a variety of services that can assist them with workplace challenges.
The formation of this disconnect between human resources and frontline employees can be linked to two key factors – a lack of involvement and communication – by both human resources units and the affected employees. This is further compounded by outdated processing systems, especially where frontline staff are concerned. While performing their duties, frontline employees can often be in remote locations and as such, can be doubly impacted by outdated administrative processes (think paper forms and slips).
- Internal Communication
For all businesses, communicating with frontline employees can be a major difficulty. In the end, it is the employees themselves who suffer. Frontline employees frequently feel cut off from leadership without effective team communication and a direct channel to business leaders and colleagues. Frontline jobs are often mobile and staff are impacted negatively by a lack of proper communication channels.
- Poor insight into overall business developments
- Collaboration opportunities are limited
- Ability to make productive decisions can be clouded
- Schedule and priority conflicts
By definition, frontline workers are employees within industries who must physically show up to their jobs. The daily schedules of frontline employees vary greatly. This is the simple reality of these types of jobs. Due to the nature of their work, a good majority of frontline employees are not constantly checking their communication channels (emails, missed calls, or other messages).
Frontline employees are preoccupied and concentrated on doing their work, which can often deprioritise communication. Keeping frontline personnel informed about what is going on within the company can be difficult because of their work focus.
Additionally, it should be noted that in a study by the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), it was found that people with inconsistent shift-based work schedules were more likely to suffer from poor mental health. Communication challenges run the risk of compounding this issue.
Impact on Employee Engagement
Challenges faced by frontline employees all effectively link to a disconnection between workers and the company. The difficulty of working remotely, along with an archaic communication system and a lack of involvement with dated policies all serve to negatively impact engagement between the organisation and its employees.
Negative impact of low frontline employee engagement:
- Lower productivity
- Lower employee retention
- Disengagement from organisation goals, reducing teamwork
In most business units the primary focal points for employees are, more often than not, the immediate operational matters related to their work. For instance, a logistics and distribution unit may primarily be focused on efficiencies without fully appreciating the impact this approach may have on their colleagues in frontline roles. As previously outlined, the lack of involvement and communication furthers the disconnection between frontline staff and the core organisation.
Frontline workers may feel undervalued as a result, which could have negative effects on their motivation, productivity, and sense of alignment with the company’s values.
While channels for communication may be present for frontline workers, these employees often deprioritise company messages that are not directly related to the tasks they have to perform. This can be traced to the busy nature of their work, coupled with the feeling of disengagement brought around by a lack of involvement in other areas. Productivity, along with general communication and updates can be negatively impacted by this issue.
Solutions for Improving the Productivity of Your Frontline Workforce
A productive workforce is one that feels a sense of belonging fostered by a positive employee experience.
- Central Issue
Frontline workers may have limited connections to the human resources division and other management positions. Links with other co-workers can also be potentially limited due to inadequate systems, leading to further erratic communication. Many frontline work locations use outmoded, paper-based admin systems, which can additionally frustrate and complicate productivity for employees active in these remote areas.
By offering a digital platform that addresses the needs of frontline workers, companies can enhance how employees perform their jobs as well as how they view their organisation, eliminating the feeling of disconnect between different facets of the business.
Additionally, the organisation can identify and address the unique needs of frontline employees by having a clear and open platform for communication, not only between frontline co-workers but also linking back to business leaders. The key aspect is ensuring that frontline employees within the organisation are not left behind and have easily accessible methods of communicating ideas, concerns and other general messages.
This helps to create a sense of belonging for frontline employees, where they otherwise may have felt disengaged and disconnected from the organisation.
Frontline employees may, at times, feel a sense of disconnect from their organisation, primarily due to a lack of effective communication systems and because of outdated administration systems.
The promotion of an effective, clear and easily accessible communication platform, with a focus on addressing the unique needs of frontline workers, allows for an organisation to eliminate disconnection and to further promote employee engagement.
- Allows for widespread insight into ongoing situations
- Encourages collaboration between different employee environments
- Promotes productive decision making
- Improves employee productivity levels
Talk to an expert to find out how you can better engage your frontline workforce.