Frontline workers form the backbone of any organisation. They’re often the first people customers connect with. They essentially put a face to the brand of their respective organisations.
According to a Work Trend Index Special Report from Microsoft, 80% of the world’s workforce comprises frontline workers, which is two billion workers worldwide. They directly impact company objectives, such as customer satisfaction and experience, brand identity, and revenue.
However, frontline workers often have fragmented and limited digital tools, impacting productivity and customer experience. They have limited access to corporate communication and collaboration platforms, knowledge assets, or employee engagement solutions typically available to other knowledge workers. This exclusion from the loop can hinder their effectiveness.
Blind spots in digital transformation
Even though frontline workers fulfil vital roles in an organisation, they are often overlooked in digital transformation initiatives. Most digital programs are focused on knowledge or office workers and skip frontline enablement. Additionally, frontline work is inherently dynamic, and these workers work in unpredictable environments with rapid flow of information and little support.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this chasm. Even before the pandemic, a 2018 study found that frontline workers did not have the technological support they needed for communications, operations and logistics, onboarding, and customer support. The pandemic exacerbated these issues and added to their frustration.
Unfortunately, post-pandemic, even as organisations invested in digital transformation, they missed thinking about the frontline staff. Most of these workers still function in environments with limited access to technology; and are not given adequate training, making it very difficult for them to navigate complex situations in fast-paced frontline environments. Poorly enabled frontline workers also lead to loss of productivity and efficiency which results in poor end-customer experience, impacting the brand identity and leading to loss of business value.
Empowering the frontline
According to a Harvard Business Review research report, 87% of leaders say their organisation will be more successful when frontline workers are empowered to make decisions quickly and accurately. Adding frontline workers to an enterprise’s digital strategy improves organisational productivity and the customer experience.
Build digital experiences
Organisations must focus on the digitisation of frontline work with the objective of increasing organisational and individual efficiency, better customer and employee engagements, and even safety across business operations. Additionally, organisations must train frontline workers to help them adopt and utilise these modern digital solutions effectively as well as improve their digital dexterity.
Digitisation of operations should focus on customer experiences, optimising processes, enabling data-driven decisions or insights, and empowering employees to deliver efficient and personalised services.
Enable collaborative workforce
Digital workplace solutions can empower frontline workers with intuitive apps, collaboration, and communication tools by improving information flow, knowledge sharing, and task management via mobile or any devices ideal for doing their work.
With apposite digital tools and capabilities and modernized task workflows, a connected workforce can thrive in a post-pandemic work environment and improve the outcomes of their work. As per research, when workers perceive their role as meaningful, it improves performance by as much as 33%, increases their commitment to the organisation by 75%, and makes them 49% less likely to quit. Besides investing in digital technologies to transform the physical workspace and equipping frontline workers with the tech they need to do their jobs better, business leadership should also enable consistent employee communication, engagement, and a feedback loop. A connected and engaged workforce boosts employee morale and retention and accelerates business outcomes.
Establish reliable & transparent operations
Digitisation of frontline workers enhances business reliability by providing real-time information access, automating processes, and improving data accuracy. It facilitates predictive maintenance, better quality control, and streamlined supply chain management at a lower cost. Additionally, digital tools empower workers to make informed decisions and ensure data security and compliance with regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA, thereby boosting efficiency and safety across industries.
It is no secret that a happier frontline means a better bottom line – frontline enablement has a direct impact on business objectives – and businesses must consider the perspectives of enabling frontline workers with the right digital tools for a more connected, productive, and efficient workforce to realize the true business impact.