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How an employee check-in helps frontline employees

When we talk about the workplace, it's usually an office-based desk job that springs to mind. But, for a lot of working professionals, that doesn't represent their situation. There are plenty of sectors where the roles and work environment look completely different. And they can be some of the most essential yet thankless jobs going. Let's look at how a regular check-in helps you tackle frontline employee challenges.

What is a frontline employee?

A lot of the roles we'd class as "frontline" happen to be people in sectors deemed too essential to shut down in an emergency situation. You see, frontline workers are the people working on the ground level. They're performing the core tasks that allow a business or institution to function. As such, they're often based in locations aside from a company's centralised offices. Depending on the role and sector, a lot of frontline workers don't have ready computer access as a given.

Many frontline roles involve customer service or supporting members of the public. Some examples of frontline workers include:

  • Hospitality workers (Restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc).
  • Retail employees.
  • Medical personnel (Doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc).
  • Educators.
  • Public transport personnel.
  • Delivery drivers.
  • Law enforcement.

But there are also some frontline workers that aren't in public-facing roles, such as:

  • Maintainance work
  • Factory work
  • Packaging/shipping facilities (such as Amazon's fulfilment centres)

Some businesses will have a greater proportion of frontline employees. But others will tend to hire more office-based (or administrative) staff. Let's use Amazon as a quick example. People working in their corporate HQ, their marketing and PR teams and C-Suite management are administrative. Amazon's frontline workers are their delivery drivers and those working in packaging facilities.

Frontline workers can be highly trained employees such as doctors or nurses. They can also be those with less formal training such as shop staff or cleaners. Frontline employees come in all sorts of forms, but the unavoidable truth is, they are vitally important to the businesses they are in.

The most common frontline employee challenges

As the name suggests, it's rough working in a frontline role. These kinds of jobs can often be physically and mentally demanding. And, compared to the relative consistency of an office 9-5, working on the ground can be highly unpredictable. So, let's look at some of the frontline employee challenges you're likely to face.

Feeling disconnected from the team

As employers, and as a society, we're all at least somewhat guilty of taking a corporate-first approach to work culture. Take bank holidays, for instance. They may be a time of rest for desk-based employees. But they can be some of the busiest times for sectors like the service industry. Much of the teachings about workplace culture is actually about office culture in particular.

This creates a feeling of disconnect. They're often left out of the loop. Or an after-thought. And the demands placed on them is often more intensive. Ensuring equal support for all your people is one of the most important frontline employee challenges to overcome.

Frontline workers are often undervalued

Partially as a result of that disconnect, it's easy for frontline employees to feel undervalued. But that's not the only reason. A lot of frontline professions are looked down on and stereotyped as unskilled work.

The problem with the "unskilled" label is the implication that a job is easy if it doesn't require a high level of education. And this implication is used as a pretext for giving less to, or demanding more from, this group of employees. As frontline staff challenges go, it's especially hard to tackle. This is because fixing it requires a broad shift in attitude that's hard to effect on a large scale.

High frontline turnover is common in some sectors

The Great Resignation has hit a lot of businesses hard. But nowhere is this more obvious than here: a survey from last year found that 45% of frontline workers were planning to quit their jobs.

Unfortunately, some sectors have an embedded culture of turnover, like the service industry. Partly, it's because people in these roles are often generalised as students or other casual employees. But this kind of attitude leads to employers treating their staff as expendable.

Access to equipment

Sure, doctors and teachers probably have as much access to a computer as anyone. But there are a lot of frontline roles where computer access isn't a factor. And, if your job doesn't require one, then fair enough.

But that's not to say there aren't benefits. Both learning and communication are becoming virtual. This means frontline employees have fewer opportunities for personal development and professional networking. But, lucky for you, that's one of the frontline employee challenges you won't have to worry about with Weekly10!

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How an employee check-in supports frontline workers

We've designed our employee check-in as a tool to support any employee anywhere in any business. So, naturally, that includes all your frontline employees too, no matter when, where or how they work.

Checking in reminds frontline employees they have a channel to raise challenges

Unless frontline employees are willing to open up about the challenges they face, HR can't be expected to fix them. That's where our check-in comes in.

A regular employee check-in serves as a reminder to your people that they can speak up. For decentralised employees especially, it's a valuable life line to the organisation. But remember that a check-in is only as good as the manager reviewing it.

First, you need to ask the right questions. Then you have to follow through. This reinforces the check-in as something worthwhile for employees to use.

Frontline sentiment is an alternate viewpoint

When you're the boss in a centralised office, chances are you have some idea of what your immediate colleagues think without needing to poll them. After all, they're people you talk to every day. But what about your frontline workers, running the warehouses or driving on delivery routes?

In that sense, a regular check-in is even more valuable for decentralised employees. Without it, you're in the dark about what your employees really think. And that's worrying when they're the lifeblood of your company. Their insight is as valuable as your desk-based workers.

OKRs connect ground-level work to major goals

Everybody wants to feel like their work matters. But it's much easier to feel impactful in some jobs than others. Being undervalued is one of the more common frontline employee challenges people experience. So, it's important to do what you can for frontline visibility.

OKRs connect everyone's efforts to high level company objectives. This way, you finally have a metric for just how essential frontline employee contributions actually are. Not only does this help staff get the recognition they deserve, it's also a great tool for self-motivation.

What is an employee check-in?

Weekly10's employee check-in is a virtual, asynchronous communication tool. It's designed to encourage conversations and promote employee engagement. Each check-in update is a two-part process. But, altogether, it only takes ten minutes to submit or review an update.

Part one is a small, focused set of questions that can be custom to each employee. Check-in questions should look at engagement, wellbeing, difficulties and general employee experience. They blend qualitative and quantitative info, and create moments for recognition.

Part two is goal tracking. Managers take their pick of SMART Goals or OKRs. SMART Goals break larger projects into smaller tasks, while OKRs connect efforts throughout your organisation.

Weekly10 is mobile-friendly

It's one thing to log onto a work application when you're an office worker. It's another entirely to do so when you're on the road hitting delivery quotas five days a week, for example. That's why Weekly10 is completely accessible via our mobile app and using Microsoft Teams mobile too.

All your people need is phone and an internet connection. It only takes minutes for anyone to submit their update. So, it's easy to manage with even the most hectic work schedule. In an increasingly tech-driven world, tech equity is a growing challenge for frontline employees. It's vital for HR to implement tools and policies that support the entire organisation.

Frontline employees are the backbone of a great many businesses. They're not a presence HR can afford to ignore.

A weekly employee check-in is the foundation of more modern performance management practices. Download your fully editable Employee Check-in Template here 👇