Exploring Frontline Worker Turnover: Insights and Solutions

Frontline workers keep essential operations running smoothly across trucking, healthcare, logistics and more. However, in many places, they’re quitting faster than companies can hire replacements, leaving a widening gap that gets harder and harder to fill. Let’s take a closer look at what’s driving these workers out of the workforce — and what employers can do about it. 

1. The Battle with Burnout

One major factor behind frontline workers leaving their jobs is burnout. Facing demanding work environments and long hours, the average workday for a frontline employee is primed with high-pressure situations that can lead to burnout. Once burnout settles in, employees struggle to stay engaged, and production suffers alongside morale. 

Recognizing the signs of burnout and working to mitigate its effects is crucial for supporting frontline employees and keeping your best talent onboard. With a communications strategy, you can work to better understand your workforce, asking them directly how they feel about work and how to support them best, and of course, completing the feedback loop by reporting back when changes are implemented. 

2. Inadequate Recognition and Appreciation

Despite the critical roles they play, many frontline workers feel undervalued and unacknowledged — not only by their employers but also by society at large, as they work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the world running. This can lead to decreased morale and low job satisfaction, diminishing the perceived value of their jobs. With little to put in the “pros” column, it’s easy to understand how they may want to seek employment elsewhere. 

To keep workers satisfied in their roles, make it a point to give them something to be satisfied about. Understand the nuances of their day-to-day jobs and recognize the effort they put in. Engage with workers on a regular basis, keeping communication lines open, and supporting workers through both their accomplishments and their concerns.

3. Insufficient Compensation

Amid a downturn in freight, economic volatility, and global changes, it’s important to remember how these dynamics impact the workforce. If a downturn means less work for truck drivers, for example, that means they’re making less money. Worse still, it can lead to confusion about how and when they’re getting paid. That’s a difficult way to live. 

When employees have a steady and reliable source of income, they gain the confidence to navigate tough times and remain motivated to stay with their employers. Conversely, a lack of pay consistency may prompt workers to explore better options, engaging in “bonus shopping” and searching for companies offering more enticing incentives, even if they are only temporary. 

By advocating for consistent pay, and clearly communicating how and when workers are paid, companies can position themselves as the employers who prioritize and support their workforce for the long haul — ultimately attracting employees interested in the same. 

4. Safety Concerns

Safety concerns are unfortunately another reason why many frontline workers decide to leave their jobs. A lack of proper safety protocols and resources can lead to feelings of insecurity and reluctance to continue working in such environments.

There is no work-around for safety, and there is no excuse for putting workers in harm’s way. It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its employees — even when the workplace is not onsite. For truck drivers, for example, this includes safe, compliant and functioning equipment. It also means considering the delivery dynamics, making sure your workers are able to perform their duties safely. Engaging with workers regularly will give them an opportunity to raise any safety concerns, which should always be addressed immediately. 

5. Lack of Career Opportunities  

Another prominent issue contributing to high turnover in frontline work is the stark lack of career growth opportunities. It becomes a compounding problem when there is also high turnover at management levels. When those in leadership roles leave, companies scramble to replace them — often with an external hire of similar experience, leaving few open positions for promotion and eliminating any potential career path for the frontline worker. 

These workers are also not always supported with training opportunities, locking them into roles with no upward mobility. While care should be given to create job promotions and provide viable career growth paths, there are other ways to support these frontline workers and their career development too. For starters, find out what workers really want. Many employers think they know, but research indicates otherwise. A recent survey by McKinsey shows a sizable gap between what employers believe and what employees want. For example, employers do not value pay or job growth as highly as frontline employees do, and that employers tend to overvalue job titles, vacation and sick time.

Even worse, there is a pervasive misalignment between the promises of career growth made during recruitment and the reality of life on the job. These discrepancies eventually give way to worker dissatisfaction and disengagement. 

By connecting directly with your workforce, you get a firsthand account of what they need and where you can support them best, keeping them engaged along the way. You can also create internal training and mentorship programs within the organization, providing an opportunity for culture building and re-skilling.

Cultivating Engagement with the Frontline 

Frontline workers thrive when they feel safe, valued, and adequately compensated for their contributions. In our experience, organizations that prioritize recognition, engagement, and fair, clearly explained pay and benefits are more likely to retain their frontline workforce. 

With WorkHound, companies can facilitate feedback loops and engage deeper with their workers, understanding the dynamics of their jobs and how to best support them.  

For more on how WorkHound works, schedule a free demo today. 

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