This news came from a company called Beekeeper. It develops and supplies productivity enhancement systems for frontline, or “deskless” workers. They conducted a survey of 8,000 individuals including frontline workers, their managers, and executives to explore trends. Its 2024 Frontline Workforce Pulse Report released January 17 details several ways frontline businesses can improve the employee experience amid high inflation and increased rates of attrition.
The news is hardly surprising that managers and workers have different views. I found during my time in manufacturing and other pursuits that asking the people who do the work for ideas on what constrains them and what could be improved constitutes one of the best uses of time a manager can spend. If all you are hiring is bodies with hands, buy a robot. People can, and do, observe and think.
Anyway, check out a few details.
The report suggests a growing disconnect between frontline workers and management, leading to increased disengagement among frontline workers. This widespread disaffection has drastic economic consequences, including a projected $8.8 trillion in lost productivity and 40% to 50% of workers across frontline industries leaving their jobs for both improved work/life balance and compensation.
“The pandemic may be in the rearview, but the problems it created for frontline workers haven’t gone anywhere,” said Cristian Grossmann, Beekeeper CEO and co-founder. “Turnover rates remain alarmingly high across industries, with frontline workers feeling overstressed, undervalued, and often unheard by management. As this year’s report makes abundantly clear, solving these persistent problems requires empowering frontline teams with technology that increases communication across the board — improving employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.”
Per the report, the daily challenges facing frontline workers have worsened significantly in the years since the pandemic. Inflation is a top-line concern, with nearly half of all workers (48%) citing wages falling behind inflation as their number-one source of stress.
But as the report demonstrates, wages tell just one part of this story. Poor work/life balance has contributed just as significantly to the ongoing Great Migration. High turnover, chronically understaffed shifts, and a lack of shift scheduling flexibility all are leading frontline workers to feel overstressed and underappreciated. According to the report, in industries like hospitality and manufacturing the majority of those who leave do so for a better work/life balance, as opposed to higher pay.
The problems of modern frontline work go deeper than work/life balance, to the very nature of the work itself. Frontline workers are more motivated, and more productive, when they find their jobs engaging and fulfilling. According to the report, a friendly and fun environment is the number-one motivator for frontline workers, in addition to the satisfaction of finishing a job and the opportunities provided for ongoing learning and development. When asked where “positive manager feedback” ranks, managers put it at number two — while the frontline workers themselves put it at number seven. This is just one disconnect of many identified in the report.
Another notable disconnect: the majority of surveyed Head Office employees (52%) expected frontline workers to cite low morale as their number-one impediment to productivity, but only 15% of frontline workers actually felt this way. A lack of recognition, poor cross-team communication, and understaffed shifts matter much more. The report suggests that clogged lines of communication prevent frontline workers from feeling safe and fulfilled, and severely hurting productivity in the process.
At the heart of today’s worker/manager disconnect are inadequate communication and a lack of insights into frontline needs. Frontline workers and managers who engage in a continuous two-way conversation on everything from expectations and performance to perceived job safety and satisfaction create an environment of trust and mutual respect. Managers need to better understand their teams’ needs to be truly successful in their roles.
Technology plays a significant role. Productivity tools that blend seamlessly into a worker’s daily routine can radically simplify complicated tasks such as onboarding, shift allocation, cross-team collaboration, and learning and development. Beekeeper’s mobile-first platform provides every worker with the tools required to sync effectively and efficiently with other teams, to reallocate shifts effortlessly, and to learn new and needed skills thoroughly and promptly. Bringing all communication into a single platform also establishes desperately needed lines of communication, and ensures that every worker feels that their voice is heard.
Beekeeper empowers frontline businesses and their workers with the digital solutions they need to do their best possible work. Founded in 2012, Beekeeper’s mobile-first platform was designed and built for deskless employees who — despite representing 80% of the global workforce — have been chronically underserved when it comes to workplace technology. With Beekeeper’s Frontline Success System, companies can automate paper-based processes, communicate with employees in real-time from anywhere, and improve the engagement, productivity, and safety of frontline teams.