Technology has transformed the way people work and interact within organisations. 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.
Keeping employees connected and engaged
One of the primary benefits of technology for frontline workers is the ability to stay connected with their colleagues and managers, who may work non-standard business hours and on location. This is particularly important for frontline employees, who are often working rotating shifts outside of traditional business hours, with varying colleagues and managers, and often at different workplace locations.
With mobile-first 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 experience feelings of isolation and disengagement as a result of their changing work environment.
Mobile-friendly technologies can help to close the empathy gap between frontline workers and head office. With the right tools, employees can communicate and provide feedback to senior business leaders in real-time while also bolstering team communication.
Effective feedback tools are essential for any business looking to enhance the employee experience, and technology can help to make this process easier. For example, employee listening tools can be used to gather feedback from frontline workers, which can help to identify areas of improvement and pick up on the nuances of a business’s culture. This can help to create a more human-centric work environment where employees feel included, valued and heard.
Modern HR technologies enhance frontline workers’ flexibility in managing their work. Flexible work for frontline workers isn’t about the location at which work is undertaken as it often is for traditional white-collar workers; it’s about providing more autonomy and choice around the hours worked. For example, some people management solutions like Humanforce empower employees to bid for and swap shifts easily, so they can better match work to their personal circumstances or preferences. This gives employees more control over their work schedule, which can help to 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 details, schedules, and rosters. With the right technology in place, employees can check their payslips, request leave, access benefits, and learn company information, all at the point of need. This not only saves employees time but also helps improve company records’ accuracy.
Technology can also help to close the career development gap for frontline workers. For example, bite-sized microlearning opportunities can be provided to employees at the point of need, whether that’s during a lunch break or when they have an issue on the clock. If learning tools can be integrated into daily routines, are available 24/7, and allow for self-paced learning, they’ll more likely be used. This can help to improve employee skills and job satisfaction.
In an environment where the unemployment rate is low, and many sectors are still experiencing a shortage of trained workers, 2023 will likely see a renewed focus on upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling internal talent. Undertaking skills audits of frontline workers, such as hard qualifications, like TAFE Certificates, right through to softer skills like customer service or on the job training, will help uncover ‘skills adjacencies’ and provide opportunities for employees to easily move between roles and locations.
Uncovering hidden talent
Many employers are guilty of not looking at the talent within their organisation to fill vacancies or to fast-track high-performance individuals into different roles. This is despite LinkedIn suggesting employees stay 41% longer at companies with high internal hiring compared to those with low internal hiring.
Emerging technology, including digital talent marketplace platforms, is streamlining the process of matching talent to opportunities based on qualifications that meet compliance (like working with children checks in childcare), skills (like having good people and communication skills in hospitality), interests and preferences. Artificial intelligence (AI) analyses data provided by employees, collects further information from internal and external sources, auto-populates skills maps and then matches the right person to each role. It also supports mentoring, development programs, job sharing and gig opportunities.
Workforce management technologies make 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 organisation. Technology has the power to optimise and shape the employee experience for frontline workers. By utilising advanced workforce management tools, organisations can improve communication, increase flexibility, provide effective feedback, and improve employee well-being.