Digital workplaces prove key to unlocking engagement with the frontline workforce

Frontline workers aren’t being given the digital tools they need to succeed, leading to disengagement and reduced productivity, according to an international survey of frontline workers published today by digital workplace innovator, YOOBIC.

A smarter and more connected approach, using mobile devices and enterprise-grade apps, could be the key to achieving operational excellence, refocusing frontline employees on core revenue-driving activities, and attracting and retaining young workers.

Mobile and desk-less 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 desk-bound employees.  Original research of 1,000 frontline workers in YOOBIC’s latest ‘Frontline Employee Workplace Survey 2021’ report showed that 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, despite 71% saying that easier access to digital tools would improve their employee experience and make them more productive.

The failure to empower workers with suitable digital tech takes a direct toll on mobile teams’ morale and productivity, the survey shows.  More than a third (34%) of frontline employees now say they feel disconnected from their HQ, and over three quarters (76%) say their sense of engagement would be significantly improved by relatively modest connectivity measures, such as mobile access to corporate communications messages.

With employees almost five times more likely to perform well when they feel their voices heard, lack of connectivity is a serious problem for today’s desk-less workforce, YOOBIC’s report suggests.  Frontline employees don’t just make, distribute and sell the products we consume — they deliver a brand’s purpose and promise, and create value that differentiates the brand from its competitors.  By making those workers more productive, organisations free up their time for impactful work such as helping customers, improving quality, and managing critical projects.

A lack of appropriate digital tools directly impacts employees’ career growth, with 40% of frontline employees saying they receive training no more than once per year, even though seven out of 10 employees would welcome access to ‘always on’, on-demand training via mobile, app-based learning solutions.  This limited training contributes to a sense of stagnation that’s especially frustrating for younger workers, with over a third of Millennials — who now make up three quarters of the frontline workforce — saying they feel unfulfilled in their roles.

“Frontline teams are the engine of our economy – business continuity and customer experience, the very lifeblood that keeps organisations operating and performing in the long-term, is reliant on the engagement of the frontline.  However, at the same time, the desk-less workforce is sorely underserved by organisations that fail to invest in new digital technologies,” says Fabrice Haiat, CEO of YOOBIC.

“A connected frontline is a confident frontline, and we’ve seen businesses who integrate mobile apps into their desk-less employees’ workflows realise significant gains in operational excellence, customer experience, and sales,” he added.