The Shift - December 21, 2023


  • Tips for supporting the 80% of employees who don’t work at a desk
  • Unique challenges facing women in frontline retail roles
  • PwC sheds light on the manufacturing employee experience

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Championing "the 80%"

The 80% of employees who don’t work at a desk lack access to the tools, technology, and opportunities they need to connect with their organizations.

You know this, we know this, and now the frontline connection gap is at the center of O.C. Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report. The report details organizational culture changes and trends over the past 12 months finding that, compared to their corporate co-workers, the 80%:

  • Feel less connected to their organization and leaders
  • Have lower job satisfaction and a more negative employee experience
  • Feel less seen, heard, and valued by their workplace

As one warehouse worker and focus group participant put it:

“The people in the warehouse get overlooked. They’re expected to get a product done, a product out the door. Corporate’s getting the applause, the ‘good job’...”

This sentiment helps to explain why companies find it hard to keep deskless workers. According to Forbes, turnover rates for deskless workers can reach as high as 500%.

So what’s going wrong? And what can organizations do better?

Gary Beckstrand, vice president at O.C. Tanner, says organizations get the most from the 80% if they address discrepancies between frontline and desk-based experiences. He identifies two key areas of difference:

  • Access – the availability of systems, resources, tech, communication channels, benefits, and support
  • Enablement – the degree to which employees have autonomy, influence, and a voice

When leaders get to know their frontline employees, when the 80% are regularly and meaningfully recognized, and when employees have equal access to technology and resources, you improve both access and enablement.

The potential results are staggering...

Learn more about Blink's take on the frontline connection gap and how to solve it here.

Save the date: January 17th, 2024

There’s a lot of talk about the value of a frontline employee super-app, but what are the must-have features that help deliver its promise? Are there specific ways HR teams should utilize it? When you invest, is there a guarantee of success?

These are all burning questions our team hears from prospective customers.

In Blink's first webinar of 2024, we’ll walk through the Blink features that HR and Internal Comms professionals can use to reconnect with their frontline — putting our product to the test through a Chief People Officer's eyes.

Register now.


Supporting women in frontline retail roles

A recent Forbes article provides a roadmap for supporting women in frontline retail roles with recommendations based on a 2023 report, Women on the Front Line: Enabling Them to Thrive, Stay, and Perform.

The report found that women are routinely underserved by their organizations:

  • Frontline women’s physical needs, safety, and well-being are often unacknowledged or ignored
  • Scheduling policies are rigid and often ignore women’s disproportionate responsibility for caregiving

So what are the practical next steps for frontline leaders?

Frontline leaders should recognize the contribution of their female frontline workforce — and strive to understand the unique challenges they face. Supporting women to balance their work and home lives is important, too.

The report says that giving frontline workers two weeks’ notice of their work schedule and eliminating on-call shifts can improve worker input and productivity.

This doesn’t have as significant a business impact as many frontline leaders would predict – especially when you factor in the increased turnover associated with inflexible and unpredictable schedules.

Digital tools can also play a pivotal role. Organizations like Unilever and Amazon are already using employee apps to deliver well-being support and health and safety advice. Mobile-first tech tools are also helping frontline managers to better connect and support their teams.


EX in manufacturing: vital next steps

Manufacturing leaders are striving to improve the frontline employee experience (EX). But are they doing enough… particularly when 71% of manufacturing leaders say talent acquisition and retention pose a serious or moderate risk to their business?

PwC has been trying to find out. According to their recent survey, HR and Operations leaders in the manufacturing sector recognized that their EX efforts could go further.

  • 71% of respondents said they either struggle with or could improve mentoring programs for frontline workers
  • Only 58% of manufacturers periodically survey frontline workers to get their take on employee engagement and workplace culture

Anthony Abbatiello, U.S. workforce transformation leader at PwC, elaborated on the findings.

He said that a shift towards digitization means frontline workers are being asked to acquire a completely new skill set. And that leaders looking to improve EX need to carefully consider frontline training in light of tech developments.

Manufacturing leaders agree. When asked what was helping to move the needle in terms of workplace culture and the employee experience, they said safety and flexibility were priorities. But coaching, training, and opportunities for advancement also sit near the top of their list.

Want to make learning and development a bigger part of your frontline employee experience? Then make Blink your digital front door. In doing so, you give employees easy access to L&D materials and mentor communication channels.

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