8 Things Your Frontline Employees Want
When we think about improving the customer experience, we often think about what our customers want. What are their needs? Desires? Expectations? While these are certainly important questions to ask, we must first turn our attention to the needs, desires and expectations of our frontline employees – the very people responsible for delivering the customer experience. By doing so, you lay the groundwork for a workplace culture that radiates positivity, efficiency, and a genuine commitment to customer satisfaction. So, what do frontline employees really want?
The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, "The New Decision Makers: Equipping Frontline Workers For Success," surveyed 464 business executives across 16 sectors in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The study reveals that organizations thrive when frontline workers can make important decisions on the spot. However, only 24% of organizations claim to have an empowered workforce, and a substantial 86% agree that their frontline workers require better technology and more insights to make informed decisions in real-time. Yet, when a frontline employee has autonomy over their role and has a say in business decisions, it boosts morale, engagement and productivity – which in turn drives improved customer experiences.
It’s critical that organizations have systems in place for regularly recognizing the achievements of frontline teams. First of all, recognizing achievements makes your frontline team feel GOOD. We know from phycological studies that recognition for good work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure. Before your frontline team can go out there and achieve their goals, talk to customers and deliver awesome experiences, they need to be feeling good in themselves. Through regularly recognizing achievements, you can help them do that. Secondly, recognition drives productivity. That dopamine hit cements the knowledge that more of that behavior will create more praise, which motivates people to continue to achieve.
3. Clear Communication
Effective communication is a cornerstone of any successful organization. However, a striking disparity exists between perception and reality. While 65% of corporate leaders believe their communication is effective, only 35% of frontline workers agree, as revealed by the Deskless Work Report. This underscores the importance of adopting communication strategies that bridge this gap, such as embracing a more inclusive approach that accommodates the unique needs of frontline workers.
4. Opportunities for Growth
A study of more than 18,000 frontline workers found that the #1 reason for leaving an organization is the lack of opportunity to grow their careers. Frontline employees aspire to grow within the company. Providing training programs, mentorship, and career development opportunities shows them that the organization is invested in their long-term success. This not only enhances their skills but also improves employee retention.
Frontline employees want flexibility too. When Gallup asked frontline workers which types of flexibility their employer offered and which they would leave their current employer to gain, the answers fell into four categories:
- More Expected (More Valued, More Offered)
- Choice of which days per week you work
- Differentiating (More Valued, Less Offered)
- Increased PTO or vacation time
- Four-day workweek (e.g., four 10-hour days)
- More Common (Less Valued, More Offered)
- Flexible start and/or end times
- Flextime (some choice over the hours you work)
- Relaxed dress code
- Nice-to-Have (Less Valued, Less Offered)
- Remote work or work-from-home options
- Choice in which hours per day you work
- Three-day workweek (e.g., three 12-hour days)
- Shorter shift lengths
- Work at any location (on-site)
This flexibility not only contributes to employee satisfaction but also acknowledges the diverse needs of a modern workforce.
6. Efficient Technology and Tools
1 in 3 frontline workers feel like they don’t have the right technological tools to do their job effectively. As former AskNicely CEO Aaron Ward said “The software industry has done a pretty good job building software for salespeople, marketers, developers, accountants but have all but ignored the service person on the frontline who deals with the actual customer.” However, optimism for tech is high: about 63% of frontline workers are excited about job opportunities from technology, and they believe technology is the third most helpful factor in reducing workplace stress.
7. Adequate Compensation and Benefits
We can’t talk about what frontline employees want without mentioning pay. Fair and competitive pay is a fundamental factor in employee satisfaction and should be a central consideration. It's not surprising. If you earn $22 or less per hour, a higher wage can significantly improve your life and help support your family. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, practical concerns have become even more important. However, according to a McKinsey & Company report, employees are motivated by a number of factors beyond compensation, including job growth, learning opportunities and supportive managers.
8. A Listening Ear
Ultimately, every frontline employee is different, and the best thing you can do to meet their needs is to listen to their needs. However, feeling unheard is widespread among frontline workers, with 87% of frontline workers believing that their employer should do more to listen to the needs of their workforce. Consider implementing regular feedback sessions, surveys, and open-door policies to create a culture of active listening. This not only allows frontline employees to voice their concerns, ideas, and feedback but also demonstrates a genuine commitment to addressing their needs.
Understanding and addressing the needs of frontline employees are foundational steps in creating a workplace culture where both employees and customers flourish. By incorporating autonomy, recognition, clear communication, growth opportunities, flexibility, efficient technology, fair compensation, and a commitment to active listening, organizations can cultivate an environment where frontline employees thrive, contributing significantly to overall success.