Digital employee experience crucial to rebuilding UK’s frontline workforce post-lockdown

As the UK’s employers struggle with severe staff shortages, as the country reopens from lockdown, delivering a great digital employee experience is key to attracting and retaining a frontline workforce, according to the latest report from digital workplace innovator, YOOBIC.

With the number of available workers falling at the fastest rate since 1997 and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) warning of risks to the UK’s economic recovery due to chronic labour shortages, lead by shortfalls in sectors including hospitality, manufacturing, transport and logistics and construction1, frontline employers must address the specific needs of these mobile and deskless workers to attract new talent.

However, original research of 1,000 frontline workers in YOOBIC’s latest ‘Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 2021’ report, reveals employers aren’t providing the digital tools that deskless workers need to succeed, leading to disengagement and making employment opportunities in these sectors less appealing.

A recent survey from the British Chambers of Commerce showed 70% of companies that had tried to hire staff over the three months to June 20212 had struggled to fill these roles, with the biggest issues recruiting workers being reported in the hotels and catering, manufacturing and construction sectors.

YOOBIC’s research highlights that frontline workers in these key sectors are experiencing limited development opportunities and workplace challenges.  In the hospitality sector, 43% of employees said there was a lack of career growth opportunities, while a third (32%) of respondents said there was limited workplace training to support professional development.

Nearly half (46%) of frontline workers in the manufacturing industry reported feeling isolated in their workplace environment, higher than the industry average of 39%.  Logistics and transport workers reported the highest incidence of being provided inadequate workplace equipment, with a third saying they were given outdated software and tools.

A smarter and more connected approach, using mobile devices and enterprise-grade apps, could be the key to achieving attracting and retaining talent in these sectors.  Mobile and deskless workers now make up 80% of the global workforce, totalling over 2.7 billion people, but the majority of digital workplace solutions still focus on supporting deskbound employees.

Fewer than six in 10 (59%) frontline workers currently use mobile devices as part of their jobs.  Almost three quarters (73%) of frontline employees are still using paper forms, increasing to 85% in the manufacturing industry, despite 71% saying that easier access to digital tools would improve their employee experience and make them more productive.

Improving working conditions for frontline staff not only makes workers in these sectors more productive and frees up their time for impactful work such as helping customers, improving quality, and managing critical projects, it also addresses reputational issues and makes these jobs more attractive – bolstering the recruitment and retention of staff.

Fabrice Haiat, CEO of YOOBIC, commented:

“The encouraging signs of economic recovery signalled by the increase of frontline job creation across the UK are being held back by recruitment difficulties in multiple sectors across the country. However, engaging, motivating and retaining talent is an ongoing challenge that will only be resolved when businesses invest in elevating the employee experience.  As the UK reopens and rebuilds post-lockdown, it’s crucial that retailers empower their frontline workforces.  It is only by opening up communication formats and providing digital training platforms that employers will attract and retain a workforce that can build with them into the future,” he concluded.

For further information on how employers can engage the UK’s frontline workers download the latest YOOBIC report.

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