Technology has changed the way people work and interact in organizations. Such transformation is particularly evident in the way businesses manage their frontline workers – represented in industries such as retail, hospitality, aged care, early learning and more. The rise of mobile and cloud-based technologies has enabled companies to engage with these workers in new and innovative ways, leading to increased efficiency, productivity and employee satisfaction.
Maintaining employee relationships and engagement
One of the main benefits of technology for frontline workers is the ability to stay in touch with their colleagues and managers who may be working non-standard hours and locations. This is especially important for front-line employees, who often work shifts outside of traditional business hours, with different colleagues and managers, and often in different workplaces.
With mobile workforce management technology, employees can communicate with their colleagues and managers in real time without being tied to a specific location. It can also improve the flow of information and feedback. This is especially important for frontline workers who may feel isolated and disengaged as a result of the changing work environment.
Mobile-friendly technologies can help bridge the empathy gap between front-line workers and the front office. With the right tools, employees can communicate and provide feedback to senior business leaders in real time while strengthening team communication.
Effective feedback tools are essential for any business looking to improve the employee experience, and technology can help facilitate this process. For example, employee listening tools can be used to gather feedback from frontline workers, which can help identify areas for improvement and understand the nuances of business culture. This can help create a more human-centered work environment where employees feel included, valued and heard.
Modern HR technologies increase the flexibility of frontline workers in managing their work. Flexible working for frontline workers is not tied to the location where the work is done, as it often is for traditional white-collar workers; it’s about giving more autonomy and choice about hours worked. For example, some people management solutions such as Humanforce allow employees to easily bid and change shifts so that they can better match work to their personal circumstances or preferences. This gives employees more control over their work schedule, which can help improve work-life balance and reduce stress. This in turn keeps employees more engaged in their workflow, allowing their employers to benefit from staff retention and improved productivity.
Technology also empowers employees to take control of their personal data, schedules and rosters. With the right technology in place, employees can check their payslips, request time off, access benefits and learn information about the company, all when they need it. This not only saves employees time, but also helps improve the accuracy of company records.
Technology can also help bridge the career development gap for frontline workers. For example, small microlearning opportunities can be provided to employees in their moment of need, whether that’s during their lunch break or when they have a problem on the clock. If learning tools can be integrated into everyday life, are available 24/7 and allow for self-directed learning, they will be more likely to be used. This can help improve employee skills and job satisfaction.
In an environment where unemployment is low and many sectors still experience a shortage of trained workers, 2023 is likely to see a renewed focus on upskilling, reskilling and cross-training domestic talent. Undertaking audits of the skills of frontline workers, from hard qualifications such as TAFE certificates to softer skills such as customer service or workplace training, will help uncover ‘skills neighbourhoods’ and provide opportunities for employees to easily move between roles and locations.
Uncovering a hidden talent
Many employers are guilty of not paying attention to the talent within their organization to fill vacancies or quickly find high performers in various roles. This is despite LinkedIn suggesting that employees stay 41% longer at companies with high internal hiring compared to those with low internal hiring.
Emerging technologies, including digital talent marketplace platforms, are streamlining the process of matching talent with opportunities based on qualifications that meet requirements (such as working with children, childcare inspections), skills (such as having good people and communication skills in hospitality), interests and preferences. Artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes data provided by employees, collects additional information from internal and external sources, automatically populates skill maps and then matches the right person for each role. It also supports mentoring, development programs, job sharing and gig opportunities.
Workforce management technologies are having a significant impact on frontline workers
Frontline workers can face unique challenges in the workplace, such as a lack of connection with their colleagues and managers, a lack of autonomy, and limited access to company information. However, technology can help bridge the gap between frontline workers and the rest of the organization. Technology has the power to optimize and shape the employee experience for frontline workers. By using advanced workforce management tools, organizations can improve communication, increase flexibility, provide effective feedback and improve employee well-being.