Digital workplaces help retail frontline look beyond the “Big Quit”

YOOBIC, the digital workplace leader, today announced the publication of the 2022 State of the Frontline Employee Experience survey — a major global report offering unique insights into the challenges facing retail and hospitality workers and their employers in an era of COVID-19, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, and economic uncertainty.

Drawing on input from 1400 frontline workers from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and France, the survey reveals that despite the challenges they face, frontline workers aren’t rushing to join the Great Resignation. In fact, almost two-thirds of frontline workers remain fiercely loyal to their employers, and plan to remain in their current positions for at least another 4 years — even as they feel increasingly burdened by the strains of their jobs.

To reward, engage, and retain these vital frontline employees, the survey shows, retail and hospitality businesses need to find creative ways to provide meaningful engagement and growth opportunities. Today’s frontline workers crave fulfilling careers with employers that give them:

  1. Efficient workload management. The great resignation left many retail and hospitality companies understaffed, and 81% of workers say they want managers to support them with upgraded processes to ensure teams aren’t overburdened.
  2. Opportunities for growth. More than half of employees feel their organizations are investing in them, but six out of 10 crave even greater opportunities to keep learning and to grow into bigger roles.
  3. Recognition. Six out of 10 employees say they’re proud of the work they do, and more than four-fifths want their employers to clearly acknowledge their contributions and the value they bring.
  4. A sense of shared mission. More than two-thirds of frontline employees feel close to their co-workers, but they want their employers to do more to create connected workplaces and share HQ’s leadership vision with frontline teams.
  5. Support and empathy. Seven out of 10 employees feel they’ve been kept physically safe during the pandemic, but many would also like their employers to do more to support their mental health and overall wellbeing.

The survey shows that employers in the UK have the room to grow in these areas. Nearly half (47%) of UK retail workers describe inadequate staffing as the biggest challenge they face in their role, compared to 31% in Canada and 36% in France.

Perhaps because of these strains, the UK’s frontline workers were less likely than employees based elsewhere in the world to view their jobs as lifelong careers. Just 29% of UK retail workers plan to stay in the industry until retirement, for instance, compared to 37% of French retail workers and 36% of Canadian workers.

But frontline teams are also eager to work with their employers to find positive solutions to the challenges they face. Half of workers would welcome new tools, such as digital messaging apps or task-management tools, to streamline workflows and boost collaboration. Almost four-fifths say they want more opportunities to connect with co-workers, and more than two-thirds want employers to give them a better understanding of their role in the broader organization.

“There has never been a more exciting, meaningful, and bountiful time to choose retail as a career. Why do I say that? As a retail professional, you are an entrepreneur. You are a leader and coach. You can influence company decisions at any level across the company. You are making a memorable, positive impact on the lives of everyone around you,” writes Ron Thurston, bestselling author of Retail Pride, in the foreword to the report. “Frontline store teams can now be equipped with cutting-edge tools and technologies such as digital workplace apps and become knowledge workers, no less critical than anyone in a corporate role.”

“Over the past year, frontline teams have rightfully gained widespread recognition for the vital work they do. This survey shows that despite the very real challenges they face, frontline teams remain loyal to their employers and eager to make even greater contributions,” says Fabrice Haiat, CEO and co-founder of YOOBIC. “With digital workplace solutions to drive collaboration, engagement, and learning, employers can reward their frontline teams, boost employee retention and productivity, and help turn hospitality and retail work into lifelong careers of which frontline workers can feel truly proud.”

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