By Matthew Spriegel, CEO and Founder, Atiom
As the face of the company, frontline teams are vital to your brand, reputation and operational success. It’s time to empower them with the same inclusion, connection, and opportunity that desk-based workers enjoy—and reap the benefits of a more productive workforce.
There's an interesting disconnect playing out in enterprises right now. Almost three years after remote working moved into the mainstream, millions of knowledge workers continue to benefit from flexible work structures and the technology that enables them. They're being empowered to work from anywhere, anytime, while retaining every opportunity to engage with managers, collaborate with peers, be recognized for their contributions, and grow into bigger roles—and they love it.
For the 2.7 billion frontline workers who keep the world running, it's a different story.
Around 80% of the global workforce does not sit behind a desk to do their jobs. They’re the people who serve the customers, greet the guests, treat the sick, make the products, load the cargo, build the houses, and make sure the lights stay on in stores, hospitals, warehouses, manufacturing, construction, and more.
Different people, different jobs, different places. But they all have one thing in common: they largely have been overlooked by the new shape of work.
Inclusion is a big deal for frontline workers. Between fast-paced environments, unpredictable schedules, and physical distance from company headquarters, it’s easy for them to feel disconnected. In a recent Microsoft survey, six out of 10 deskless workers said their employer could do more to prioritize communication from the top, and 44% said that clearer communication from management is necessary to reduce their stress levels. So it’s no surprise that half of frontline workers say they don't feel valued in the workplace. Combine these feelings of underappreciation with rampant burnout, lack of job flexibility, and limited advancement opportunities, and you can see why people are rushing to join The Great Resignation by quitting the frontline in waves.
This is costing businesses dearly in terms of turnover, disengagement, and mistakes. According to research from Gallup, 89% of workers are “extremely likely” to start job hunting if they cannot work flexibly with their current employer. Yet remote work models are incompatible with frontline roles, putting employers at a competitive disadvantage when seeking to attract and retain staff.
To meet these challenges, organizations need to rethink and redesign the frontline experience. That starts by equipping your deskless teams with a mobile solution that improves communication, deepens engagement, fosters connection and inclusion, and gives frontline workers greater opportunities to grow as employees.
The dynamic nature of the frontline means workers are constantly in motion, working in uncertain conditions, and handling ever-changing information. They need regular updates to stay informed and minimize operational risk. Yet most employers rely on day-long classroom sessions to train their frontline staff, and sessions typically take place only once or twice a year.
Here’s a startling fact: if your frontline teams do nothing after a training session, they will lose 98% of what they learned within 30 days. This takes the ROI of your learning investment down to zero. Worse, if you’re only delivering critical safety training every six months, for example, it will be forgotten long before it prevents mistakes.
On top of that, it takes 66 repetitions on average for new information to bed in. What this science is telling us, is that it’s time to ditch the annual PowerPoint sessions and massively increase the frequency of touchpoints such that, through repetition and active recall, information bakes in over time. In Atiom, for example, frontline teams can consume bite-sized learning in just 5 minutes a day. Fun quizzes conducted after the training can help keep retention at 100%!
For the 45% of frontline workers who have decided to leave their current jobs, seeking “access to more training and skill development”, this is a valuable differentiator. And if you want to learn from another’s experience, IBM discovered that every dollar invested in online training generated returns of $30. After implementing their digital learning platform, the company’s employees learned five times more material without increasing training time.
Repetition and engagement have an inverse relationship. That’s because people have a natural desire for novelty—the first time you hear a piece of information, the neurons in the brain fire up. But a second or third go-round of the same information gets fewer neurons firing. That's when we switch off and revert back to old habits.
Meaning? You have to repeat the information in different ways to keep it fresh.
Let's say you need to deliver ESG training to your frontline staff. Using Atiom's mobile app, you could activate the content through:
This holistic, multi-dimensional approach is transformative when it comes to increasing engagement. It also adds peer-to-peer recognition and virtual rewards into the mix, so your teams are not only engaged but also feel seen and appreciated for their efforts.
Recognition is key to inclusion and retention. A recent Gallup and Workhuman collaboration found that 74% of employees who received recognition only a few times a year planned on leaving their jobs. With more frequent recognition, the quit rate dropped by 31%.
To foster inclusion, deliver hyper-relevant messages in real time One of the toughest challenges for frontline managers is delivering critical information when it matters. In 2020, a staggering 96% of frontline workers said they wanted better communication technology so they’re not left in the dark.
Mobile platforms like Atiom deliver important news to frontline workers at exactly the right moment. Whether it's policy changes, new safety standards, company news, or something else, teams are empowered to stay in the know, anytime and anywhere. From a training standpoint, the timely delivery of business-critical information is essential to ensuring standards are met and protocols are followed, mitigating the company’s liability risks.
Now, content created for everyone tends to be read by no one, so your communications must be relevant if they are to stick. With technology that supports localization, you can address the needs of employees in their local language, culture, and with the right operational details for their region, city or even workplace. Meeting employees where they are creates a greater sense of belonging across the frontline.
To facilitate deeper connections, managers can see who is logging in, reading updates, asking questions, and so on—in real time. Managers rarely have access to this level of transparency. But it's essential for making informed decisions on how to best activate content, deliver messaging, and allocate training resources to support your frontline teams.
Whether it's communication, upskilling, compliance, safety, raising service standards or something else, businesses succeed when they are intentional about driving shifts in behavior. It’s not enough to say ”we’re going to improve employee engagement” or "we're going to focus on skills development." You need to create explicit problem statements and action against them to make real change.
This is where Atiom shines—not just as a frontline experience platform but as a performance-ready tool that solves specific business challenges quickly. Working hand-in-hand with companies to identify their most pressing problems, we ensure the platform is populated with the right content and workflows to drive significant improvements in performance against the metrics that matter to your business.
In the new shape of work, business leaders have an opportunity to push their frontline into a new frontier with technology that empowers, includes, engages and connects. Organizations that embrace these solutions will come out on top.
To learn more about how Atiom can support your frontline workers today and in the future, please get in touch with our team.