Frontline workers are leaving the party
We all know why we’re here. Frontline workers are quitting en masse: more than 55% of the US frontline left their posts in 2021.
Unfortunately for C-suite execs at frontline organizations, unless decisive action is taken quickly, things will only get worse.
While the problem of frontline turnover has many contributing factors, from salary competition to changing workforce demographics, one important part of the solution remains constant: employee engagement.
And here lies the problem: most of the time, it doesn’t work.
“If you build it...they won’t actually come”
Frontline businesses have invested in engagement solutions and projects before, but regardless of the type of organization, these are generally met with tepid responses.
The list of fallen soldiers here is considerable: town halls, employee surveys, intranets, ERGs. And often, the response sounds something like this:
“Great, another thing to remember”
“It’s not a natural part of my day”
“It’s a one-off thing”
“It’s too hard to use”
Hours of time from leadership, People teams, Internal Comms functions and supervisors go into projects that rarely succeed in their mission. This is like the birthday party where the decorations are up, the cake is ready and the music’s on – but nobody’s showed up.
The result? Frontline workers aren’t sustainably engaged, the cycle of attrition continues and there’s little meaningful data in order to understand exactly what to do to fix it.
The solution: chips and dips
Turning this around warrants changing the way we think about employee engagement. For most businesses, employee engagement is a thing that we ‘do’ - it’s a project, an initiative, even a tool or an app. But this is where we’re going wrong.
The solution lies in approaching frontline engagement as something that we ‘earn’ - it’s an outcome, not an output.
To illustrate this, let’s return to our party. Anyone who’s ever been to a house party will be able to tell you exactly where most people end up: the kitchen. And why are they in the kitchen? Because that’s where the drinks, the mixers, the snacks and the ice is. There’s useful stuff there, and so they gravitate there, and the good times start rolling.
So to return to frontline engagement: put out the ‘chips and dips’. In other words, focus on providing frontline workers with services and tools that not only fit into their busy days, but make them better – and use that space to invite engagement.
How it works: chips, dips and paystubs
Blink is a new type of frontline engagement app that the average worker opens ten times per day! Blink brings the processes that frontline workers and their managers need all into one place – from payslips to scheduling and critical documents, all with one login. This is our ‘chips and dip’.
For leaders and managers looking for engagement, this is the time to swoop. The whole of the frontline’s eyeballs are on the app, which means that surveys get seen, important messages from the CEO and HQ are read, and the work being done to improve the working day gets cut-through.
If a once-yearly employee engagement survey is the equivalent of putting out samples at Costco in the hope that a nameless stranger will take a drive-by snack, this is the equivalent of the work cafeteria – the place where the whole companies gathers, day after day.
How to be a good frontline host: Elara Caring’s story
Elara Caring – one of the largest US-based providers of personal care, home health and hospice care – had a frontline engagement problem when we first met them last year. With a 62% turnover rate of their more than 32,000 personal care attendants (PCAs), the leadership team needed sustainable engagement badly.
In adopting Blink, Elara looked to empower its PCAs and make their lives easier – and get engagement and loyalty in return.
They used Blink to remove the burden of paper-based admin: Elara’s PCAs had to constantly fill out expenses and other forms on paper. Blink’s solution was to integrate these manual processes and systems into a single app. Payslips, expenses and mileage reporting, key information from Sharepoint, schedules and rotas were all suddenly available to Elara’s PCAs at their fingertips.
The benefits for Elara’s PCAs? Time savings, with more attention devoted to their “real jobs” than ever before.
The benefits for Elara Caring? Sustainable engagement, with 95% of employees saying that they now feel more connected to the company. PCAs have begun to use Blink to create a community – and sub-communities – within the organization, creating the connection and cohesion that makes them stay.
In conclusion: good parties don’t skimp on the guac
In a war for a diminishing talent pool, the need to directly address frontline engagement has never been more acute. But it’s also shown where there are failings in trying to get engagement from the activities and programs that work for desk-based, white-collar workers. The key to success for the frontline is to not only fit into frontline life, but to make frontline life better and easier – and use that digital space you’ve created to finally connect your people.