A majority (56%) of senior executives are facing a frontline employee turnover that is higher than the historical average.
However, the findings from the latest survey by Workday, which provides enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, revealed that employee experience plays a critical role in frontline worker retention – across all industries surveyed.
Today's frontline workers want access to the right tools and technology, to feel a sense of belonging, and to be supported by their managers.
It also found that despite 20% of frontline workers planning to leave their jobs within the next three to six months, 79% of workers who feel a sense of belonging at work have no plans to leave their employer, underlining the need for employers to better engage with and retain this essential segment of the workforce.
The "Frontline Workers: How to Connect, Enable, and Support Them in the Modern Workplace", conducted by Lighthouse Research & Advisory and commissioned by Workday, is based on a survey of 3,000 global respondents in Australia, Canada, China, India, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US and across industries including construction, energy, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and transportation – to understand the sentiment, needs, and priorities of today's frontline workforce.
The survey identified three key factors to delivering positive, connected, and supportive experiences for frontline workers:
Workplace belonging critical
When frontline workers feel connected with their managers, it significantly impacts their sense of belonging, intent to stay, and sentiment towards the organisation.
Workers who feel a sense of belonging at work are nine times more likely to have a supportive manager, and 79% of them have no plans to leave their employer.
Conversely, those workers who do not feel a sense of workplace belonging are four times more likely to say their mental health and wellbeing has declined in the last year, and just 33% intend to stay with their current employer.
Technology key to employer perception
Having the right tools and technology play a critical part in how frontline workers experience and perceive work overall.
According to the survey, workers who have flexible scheduling tools – i.e., tools that enable them to manage their schedules and adjust and add shifts – are 71% more likely to say their company is open and transparent.
However, if frontline workers don't have access to the right technologies to do their work, they are 20 times more likely to say their employer is not open and transparent.
Supportive people leaders, opportunities to share
To deliver experiences that matter, people leaders need to understand the evolving preferences and needs of employees, and make sure their voices are heard.
The findings show that 80% of workers who say their manager understands and regularly supports them indicate they are happy in their job with no plans to leave.
Yet, for workers who say their manager doesn't consistently support them, only 20% say they are happy in their current role. In fact, a supportive manager can improve a frontline worker's likelihood of retention by 300%.
Additionally, frontline workers want to be recognised for their work and have opportunities to share feedback. According to the survey, 79% of workers want to share feedback with their organisation monthly or more frequently, yet only 55% of employers give them a chance to.
This directly impacts retention, as only 15% of frontline workers who want – and receive – daily or weekly feedback have plans to quit their job.
"Frontline workers are doing the hard – yet essential – work that doesn't always get noticed or appreciated like it should," said Ben Eubanks, chief research officer, Lighthouse Research & Advisory.
"This research uncovered how positively frontline workers respond to having the right tools and resources in their hands to better manage their work life. It's my hope that employers take note and use these findings as an opportunity to build a stronger support system for their critical frontline staff."
"The last few years have placed a significant amount of pressure and demand on frontline workers, yet organisations continue to face challenges in supporting and retaining this critical segment of the workforce," added Mariana Santiago, GM workforce and payroll, Workday.
"The survey uncovered that experience is at the very core of frontline worker engagement and retention. Organisations that listen to the evolving needs and preferences of frontline workers, empower them with the tools to do their jobs, and support them when it matters most will flip the script and dramatically increase their ability to recruit and retain this workforce."