Frontline employees play an important role in every aspect of a business. They are the first persons customers get to meet and they go about their roles representing your business and overcoming any obstacles that may or may not arise.
In short, frontline employees are literally everywhere: on the phone, face to face, on social media…
It goes without saying that it is essential to provide satisfactory work conditions for them as well as proper training and advancement options…. which, sadly, often isn’t the case.
For the majority of frontline employees, the main issue is a poor relationship with the management. Since the onset of the latest pandemic, so many frontline workers have left their companies that the world is still facing a critical lack in this regard.
Since frontline managers often lack the know-how and field experience to actually know what they’re doing, let alone know whether they’re doing it properly, more and more frontline employees are rapidly turning to remote work and the gig economy.
What Are Typical Frontline Employee Roles?
There are many frontline roles across all industries. Common ones include:
- Service personnel
- Customer service agents
- Retail assistants
- Bank clerks
- Social media planners and executives
- Hospitality personnel
- Field sales executives
While these roles are diverse, what all of them have in common is that people performing them have rather specific skill sets. People skills, for one thing, are not something everyone possesses. Soft skills, in particular, are crucial for all frontline workers. Commonly, these skills include a balanced nature, empathy, common sense, composure, emotional intelligence, and adaptability.
1. Frontline Employee Retention Needs to Be Kept Under Wraps
Efficient frontline employee retention is critical. Workplaces that generate high retention rates employ engaged workers who get more jobs done. This is a well-known mantra; there’s no reason why it wouldn’t apply to frontline workers, too.
In this specific case, this portends better customer relations and better time management. Providing a GPS timeclock for your frontline employees is a good starting point, as it will make things easier for them and leave them with more time to spend on important tasks.
2. Offer the Latest Tech
Always provide your frontline teams with the latest tech. As mentioned above, automating manual tasks will leave the employees with more time for specific tasks and also boost their engagement rate.
Some trends will help you with job management, as follows:
- IoT for asset management
- Cloud-based software for remote work
- Artificial intelligence for business automation
- Inventory management software for supply chains
This can really come into play for things like real-time loading tracking, inventory management and automated customer service.
3. Train Your Frontline Managers
Management often seems like a complex process but, in truth, it is a process composed of clearly defined steps, as follows:
- Customer acquisition – Use marketing, advertising, and promotion
- Estimating & quoting – Estimate a cost and ask for customer feedback
- Task outlining – divide the job into smaller tasks
- Scheduling – Allocate the necessary resources and staffing +
- Timesheeting –Record employees’ working hours
- Emailing & document exchange – Dispatch documents relevant to the job to stakeholders, while keeping data secure
- Cost management
- Work-in-progress management
- Reporting – Collect the data for further reference
There’s no reason why your frontline managers shouldn’t follow them, but make sure to provide proper training on the matter of fieldwork!
4. Boost Employee Communication
Efficient and timely team communication is paramount for frontline employees. That is to say, you should pick only the finest communication tools and provide training on how to best utilize them.
In summary, there are three types of business communication:
- Communication via email
- Communication via messengers
- Communication via project management apps
Depending on the actual role of your frontline employees, other communication channels may also come in handy (social media are the first obvious example).
5. Offer Continual Education
Frontline employees need to be well trained but mind information overload. Also, they should be offered promotion opportunities just like other employees, so provide eLearning solutions for your frontline teams.
Allow them to learn things at their own pace and pick their specialization.
6. Keep Everyone in the Loop
Make an effort to always adhere to field service best practices. Here are some ideas:
Service Best Practices
- Schedule services at the right time and place keeping in mind your day-to-day workflow. In this way, you’ll be able to dispatch the employees exactly when and where they are needed.
- Track the costs and make sure they include job costs, and contractor and equipment costs.
Track job progress by enabling better communication (see below).
Project Best Practices
- Organize project phases
- Manage project phases
- Track costs and budgets in real-time
- Manage billing and invoicing
Maintenance Best Practices
- Test your assets in the field
- Keep your assets organized
- Plan asset servicing in the field
Frontline employees are usually facing more challenges than other employees simply because they often lack the right tools. Another notable issue is that frontline managers need to be trained to address the issues specific to frontline employees.
There’s so much to be done to make your business a pleasant place for your frontline employees, so start improving the environment step by step and listen to employee feedback.