The frontline worker crisis is nowhere near abating, but the job must be done regardless. If you’re wondering how to address this huge global issue efficiently, you’d better start by forgoing the traditional claptrap along the lines of “welfare comes first” and similar “advice.”
The fact is that frontline workers are leaving en masse not because they’re unsatisfied with the company gym but because they’re being poorly managed and lack up-to-date tools other employees enjoy… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The fact that many people had been forced to turn to frontline work in the past was swept under rug for too long, but the time is come to settle the account. The simple truth is that many people initially employed in production lost their jobs. With their skills becoming obsolete literally overnight, these people were forced to find jobs where they could… and “where they could” was usually frontline work.
They were greeted with poor management and non-existent advancement options. The situation hasn’t changed much over years.
Now, with the rise of the gig economy and remote work in general, dissatisfied frontline workers (who bore the greatest grunt of the COVID pandemic) are looking for better job prospects. Even frontline job roles that can be performed remotely (customer support, for example) seem more appealing than rigid work schedules and incapable managers.
Many business owners are at a complete loss: what is to be done now?
Obviously, the first thing to do is — educate your frontline managers. Only by eliminating the biggest obstacle can businesses hope to attract dedicated frontline workers.
If your managers are at a loss at first, the safest approach is to stick to the clearly defined management steps, as follows:
- Customer acquisition – Use marketing, advertising, and promotion
- Estimating & quoting – Estimate a cost and ask for customer feedback
- Task outlining – divide the job into smaller tasks
- Scheduling – Allocate the necessary resources and staffing +
- Timesheeting –Record employees’ working hours
- Emailing & document exchange – Dispatch documents relevant to the job to stakeholders
- Cost management
- Work-in-progress management
- Reporting – Collect the data for further reference
Next on, procure the latest tech that can help frontline workers focus on what matters instead of on manual work that can be automated.
Basically, these two steps are prerequisites for any further advancement, which doesn’t mean that prospects look glum.
Let’s take a look at some advanced ideas to come afterward.
Devise good training programs for your frontline teams, avoiding information overload at all costs. Regular perks go without saying.
Use the benefits of customized eLearning programs and clearly outline future prospects.
On top of skill training, you should also address the most critical areas, which include:
- Soft skills
Don’t forget to thank your workers for a job well done. Empathy can do wonders in the world prioritizing profits.
Make use of the finest operations management trends. Just exactly which ones are finest can be deduced by actually asking your frontline employees for feedback (anonymous, to ensure sincerity).
Other ones you can come by yourself include the trends dealing with supply chain disruptions and global labor shortages. Simply put, maximize the capacity of your workforce by applying the latest tech.
Here are some ideas:
- Automate repetitive and time-consuming processes
- Streamline communication tools and technology
- Connect your frontline workforce (dedicated channels and similar)
Next on, make sure to create a frontline-first workplace experience. Make sure that your frontline teams are connected to the bigger picture of the business (which they too often aren’t).
Use a unified platform to simplify data access. With all these apps and tools, too many aren’t good! Create clear protocols for communication, data procurement, and other necessary processes.
New technologies spell increased risk. While there’s no denying that apps can simplify many processes, it’s also true that their efficiency is proportional to the users’ knowledge.
In addition, there are security threats. Not every employee has to be an IT expert. You should take data security seriously and create a safe environment for all employees on top of ensuring education.
Shipping is a complex process even in the most idyllic of times. The globalized world has joined both of each country’s respective benefits and disadvantages, and nowhere is this disparity more evident than in the shipping challenges.
If you aren’t already, make sure to use dispatch software for starters. However, don’t have illusions in this regard. It will help your business but it won’t solve global shipping issues. No amount of training or brainstorming will help.
Next on, use precise inventory management. A cloud-based inventory, for example, can help your frontline workers deal with complex inventory management efficiently.
Follow up by keeping up with the latest field service trends, as follows:
- IoT for asset management
- Cloud-based software for remote work
- Artificial intelligence for business automation
- Inventory management software for supply chains
Last but not least, you should ensure proper knowledge management. Simply providing training won’t do the trick.
Expertise and know-how are only efficient when nourished. However, if the knowledge isn’t shared or, more precisely, properly shared, progress won’t take place.
To make sure that everyone is benefiting, you should optimize knowledge management for the digital workspace. This basically means that information should be immediately accessible when needed and that all employees know exactly how and where to access it. The process mustn’t be time-consuming or complicated.
As things stand now, when looking for a piece of information that hasn’t been documented, employees often can’t find the person to ask for advice. This leads to problems amassing.
The best approach would be to create a platform combined with people and processes that collect and store information in a central location. Information should be continually circulating so that everyone can access it in real-time when they need to.
Modern knowledge systems rely on AI to ease this complex process as much as possible.
6 Ways To Overcome Frontline ChallengesAs you can see, much and more can be done to make your frontline employees happy and efficient. Not all the steps mentioned here are obligatory, but I hope you’ll find many good ideas here or, at least, a good starting point.