With the onset of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to send their employees home to work, but frontline employees who worked in healthcare, maintenance, retail services, logistics didn’t have that luxury. Their jobs required them to show up in person. Not only did frontline employees show up to work, but in many cases, they relearned how to do their jobs or took on new responsibilities as businesses altered their models to stay open.
As businesses in India emerge from the second wave and plan for the third wave, they need to rehash their focus on skilling their frontline workers.
In a recent virtual discussion by People Matters and Disprz, Upskilling frontline teams for business growth, Priyanka Agarwal, Head-HR (Corporate functions and Retail Learning) at More Retail Limited, and Kuljit Chadha, Co-founder and COO of Disprz reflected upon the role of frontline workers evolved to deliver on business when business models have changed.
The discussion started with how managing talent upskilling rescaling has revolved. Priyanka said, “ Not only the entire HR community but the line leadership had to revert to the new normal, and at the same time– adapt to the changing business environment. Organizations across teh industries had to undergo transitions and so does the skilling of the workforce, especially the frontline talent.”
Adding to the importance of the frontline talent skilling, Kuljeet said, “Frontline is an important bridge between the organisation and the company to bridge that digital gap.”
As the conversation progressed, a very important point was raised about how the role of the frontline talent has evolved in this new normal. The roles are moving away from specialist to generalist. Taking the example of the retail industry, the frontline talent had to ensure they know multiple channels of operations and ensure maximum customer experience either it is a WhatsApp channel, or a phone, or a store, or an online store. The ask from frontline talent in the retail industry today to take up a generalist role who can manage all the channels.
Quoting another example of a pharmacy organization, they give access to a lot of data to their frontline talent. One of the mandates from the head office was to make decision-making decentralised. The company gave access to data to the people on the field, and give them the power to make decisions based on the data, and taking the entire agility quotient high.
The frontline workers usually constitute as much as two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for the part of the company that typically defines the customer experience. Although frontline talent is largely responsible for putting the company’s broader goals and values into action, they often lack investment in their skilling and developmental needs.
Agility and customer experience are going to be the key elements that will define your business growth and investing in the frontline talent skilling. Watch the video to know-how.