Frontline workers are the first point of contact for your customer. Their knowledge and performance have a pivotal impact on your business and how it represents its values and mission. As such, there’s no question about the importance of keeping your frontline staff happy. Not only are happier employees more productive, but they also offer better service and improved customer loyalty.
Simply put, happy frontline workers make happy customers.
Employees who feel motivated and engaged add more value than employees who feel demotivated and disengaged. So, how do you keep your workers happy, particularly at a time when turnover is at an all-time high? We’ve examined approaches from best-in-class employers and believe there are three secrets to success.
1. Invest in employee health and wellbeing
Did you know that workplace health and wellbeing is one of the main drivers of workforce productivity? According to the American Psychological Association, the top components to workplace wellbeing are work-life balance, health and safety and employee growth and development. Effective employers understand these components and view their employees in a more holistic sense—as opposed to just laborers who perform necessary tasks. They see their staff as part of a wider system of communities, cultures and systems that affect their overall health and wellbeing.
Workplace wellbeing considers both the physical and mental states of employees. Physical wellbeing at work includes things like temperature, ergonomics and safety, whereas mental wellbeing regards areas like stress, negativity and anxiety. The more an employee’s physical and mental wellbeing is compromised, the worse their output. As such, many employers actively promote workplace wellbeing programs that build community and improve environmental conditions.
To improve physical wellbeing, employers can improve facilities or design spaces for employees to gather socially, like a ping pong table, a walking path outside the office or an informal seating area. But just as important as the environmental space is the workplace culture. No one will want to use a communal space if they know it’s frowned upon by management. There’s a multitude of do’s and don’ts for building a positive workplace culture, but here’s a basic rule of thumb: think of ways to make workers at all levels of the organization feel valued and heard. Brainstorming with staff can be a great way to decide on what type of benefits or activities make your team feel most valued.
2. Invest in supportive leadership
Another way to keep frontline workers happy is to invest in leadership that’s both supportive and responsive to their team’s needs. According to Indeed, “Supportive leadership is an important and valuable leadership style for businesses. Not only does it foster positive relationships between employees, but it also ultimately empowers team members to develop their professional skills and work well autonomously or with little active management and guidance.” In fact, a shift in leadership roles is evolving across industries as companies find that people-focused leaders can obtain better results than profit-focused leaders.
For most workers, feeling appreciated, compensated and supported goes a long way. People-focused leaders and supervisors have the first-hand capacity to encourage, inspire and teach others on their team. They also play significant roles as champions (or gatekeepers) in the promotion and advancement process. By considering opportunities for promoting those on their team, supervisors can nurture growth and encourage advancement within an organization. These leaders can also affirm and express their support of employees by educating them about career pathways, encouraging them to participate in educational opportunities and helping them develop leadership skills.
By recruiting and investing in supportive leaders, businesses can reduce stress and frustration in the workplace while also increasing productivity. To identify leaders who fit with your company’s mission, look for candidates with self-awareness and emotional intelligence who can understand when to offer care, attention and guidance to their team. With most employees wanting to experience a sense of belonging in the workplace, finding supportive leaders who create a space where others want to spend their time can be one of your most valuable assets – particularly in frontline, customer-facing environments.
3. Invest in training and education
While premium benefits packages can help employers attract and retain talent, they can also be costly to implement and administer. However, with educational benefits—like tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement—the results can often outweigh the initial costs of providing learning assistance. Research from the Lumina Foundation suggests that providing learning benefits not only reduces turnover, it helps to boost the national goal for Americans with college educations, which is currently lagging.
With increasing automation in the workplace, more remote working, higher demand for vocational skills and the huge disruption and acceleration caused by COVID, the need for lifelong education and upskilling has never been more pressing. According to the CDC, this ultimately ties into a worker’s wellbeing as a more broadly prepared field of workers is less stressed and better positioned to pivot to new solutions or quickly adapt to technological changes.
Employees are aware of changing job market pressures and increasingly desire the training needed to advance in their careers. By offering educational benefits to frontline workers, companies can see more engagement, optimized productivity, improved customer satisfaction and the ability to stay competitive in their market. Many business leaders have identified talent-driven innovation as the primary determinant of competitiveness.
As businesses across industries look for ways to keep their workers happy, they’ll find that investments in employee health and wellbeing, supportive leadership and training and education programs will better equip them to retain a positive, productive, future-proof workforce. At Pearson Accelerated Pathways, we’re uniquely positioned to help businesses invest in their frontline workers by providing flexible degree plans and post-secondary options as strategic educational benefits. Our learning programs are online, flexible, completely personalized and cost effective. Find out how we can enable your staff to drive their success and enrich their lives through learning.