What does it mean to be a Frontline FriendlySM Company?
Across the United States, millions of employees work in frontline positions. They are truck drivers, grocery clerks, factory workers, salespeople, and the list goes on. Many are the same workers we have gained a new appreciation for as essential during the pandemic. And yet, when business leaders talk about creating and maintaining great places to work, too often these same workers are left out of the equation.
What Exactly is a Frontline Worker?
We define frontline workers as individuals who:
- support or are directly involved in the production, handling, distribution and selling of a product or service,
- must be present to do the job (it cannot be done remotely), and
- perform a job that does not necessarily require a 4-year college degree.
By definition, many of these jobs do not have components typical of companies on “great place to work” lists. In addition to not being able to work remotely, frontline jobs may not allow for much control over one’s time. Workers who spend their days on the road or working on retail floors may not have access to perks some office workers enjoy, like free snacks or fitness centers. These workers also may not be around to participate in events and activities.
Here Are Some of the Ways a Company Can Be Frontline FriendlySM
Smart employers know they can’t provide a great customer experience without providing a great worker experience, and they take steps to make this happen. Frontline FriendlySM companies build profits by putting their employees first, rather than at the expense of frontline workers. These companies:
- Don’t demand college degrees for positions that don’t require them, or unnecessarily limit employees’ advancement based on a degree
- Pay their frontline workers well above a living wage and above industry average
- Encourage input and ideas from their frontline employees on how to improve operations
- Design their operations with the work-life balance and wellbeing of frontline workers in mind, and explore creative approaches to giving frontline employees as much control as possible over their work and their time
- Provide training, professional development and regular coaching to frontline employees, offering career development, concrete career paths, and real advancement opportunities; train supervisors to effectively coach and develop their frontline staff
- Are mindful of including frontline employees in company-wide culture-building and engagement events and activities
- Continually measure and monitor frontline employees’ level of engagement
Why It Matters
It hardly needs to be said that employees of Frontline FriendlySM companies are going to be better off in nearly every way. They are more likely to be secure financially and feel fulfilled in their careers, and less likely to struggle with work-life conflict.
What may be less obvious is that companies who treat their frontline workers fairly and as a part of the team can reap enormous benefits – Turnover goes down, and with it the many costs of recruiting, hiring, and training. Engagement goes up, and with it productivity rises, as well. Science tells us that people who are less stressed are less likely to be injured, and will likely recover sooner from their injuries. And frontline workers who have opportunities to develop and advance through the company will bring insights, direct experience and understanding into their new roles as few outsiders can.
In addition, many frontline employees are closer to the customer than anyone else in the company; it stands to reason that if they know they will be respected and listened to they are more likely to report important customer feedback—bad and good. If they know their ideas will be considered, they may (and often do) provide excellent suggestions for new ways of doing things, based on their immediate experience. If they know they will be rewarded for innovation, rather than punished, they will likely take more initiative in finding creative ways to support customers.
Frontline Careers Connects Great Employers with Great Talent
Frontline Careers was formed to provide a platform for frontline workers and Frontline FriendlySM companies to find one another. It’s an opportunity for employers who have always supported their frontline workers to earn well-deserved recognition and find great employees. It is also a place for employers who are ready to do the hard work to learn more and begin taking the steps to becoming certified Frontline FriendlySM companies. And more importantly, it’s an opportunity for millions of hard-working people across the United States to find jobs that are meaningful, supportive and fulfilling.