It’s not all about the money.
“The job that paid me the most was the job I liked the least,” explained Tyra Mitchell. The 24-year-old, who has worked as a store associate for brands like Athleta, Five Below, Gap, Macy’s and Old Navy, felt happiest and most engaged working for brands that gave her the tools to succeed and made her feel part of their community. “Companies are worried about the customer experience but they’re not focusing on empowering employees like me to do a good job.”
For Mitchell and her Gen Z and millennial colleagues, who now make up more than half of the 2 billion workers in the global frontline workforce, feeling empowered, engaged and appreciated is inextricably connected to their success and the success of the brands they work for. These frontline (or deskless or hourly) workers, more than 60% of whom are women, are often the highest touchpoint with a brand’s customers – think about the person checking you into a hotel, serving you food in a restaurant or packing your ecommerce order in a warehouse.
Yet most companies are not investing in their frontline employee experience. “The world’s largest workforce has been forgotten in our digital transformation,” says Louise Clements, Global Chief Marketing Officer at WorkJam. She says her company is empowering workers by making digital workplace tools that make jobs more accessible and inclusive for those on the frontline, many of whom are immigrants and single mothers.
Good EX Leads to Good CX
90% of all large global companies employ deskless workers; but there continues to be a critical disconnect. A recent study revealed that a good frontline employee experience leads to a good customer experience and a good customer experience leads to increased revenue and competitive differentiation in the market. However, only 8% of respondents – key decision makers at large global organizations – plan to actually invest in their frontline employee experience.
The correlation between a good employee experience and a good customer experience (and the resulting brand loyalty and increase in sales) is undeniable. “At Athleta I felt like I was part of a community,” Mitchell said. “And their shift swapping platform allowed me to have so much flexibility with my schedule.” Conversely, Mitchell says she was least engaged with the company that failed to empower her with the tools she needed. “We can’t provide good customer service if we’re not given the technology we need to help the customer.”
Fortunately, top brands like American Eagle Outfitters, Aramark, Hilton, Shell and Ulta have already invested in their deskless workers, adopting digital workplace tools employees can access from any mobile device. These tools not only make their hourly employees more knowledgeable, engaged and productive (and, in turn, improve their economic and mental wellbeing), they are improving the top line, efficiencies and profits of the companies willing to make the investment.
How Companies are Empowering Frontline Workers Through Digital Transformation
Open Shift Marketplaces Offer Financial Security.
A study of hourly workers revealed that 49% couldn’t pay their monthly utilities if they missed just one shift. Open shift marketplaces give hourly employees control and flexibility to swap shifts without a manager’s involvement. Mitchell used this tool at Athleta, where she could not only swap shifts but could pick up additional shifts at any of the Gap brands. Ulta also offers this to their store associates and has seen as many as 500 shift swaps in a single week.
Digital Communications Tools Create Community and Give All Employees a Voice.
Hourly workers can use 2-way digital communications tools from their phones to receive leadership and HR messaging and connect with colleagues and corporate and HQ staff. This enables them to participate in the company culture. “With digital communications tools, frontline employees end up feeling like human beings and like they are part of a community,” said Clements.
On-Demand Pay Solutions Improve Financial Wellbeing.
Typical pay cycles require hourly employees to wait up to two weeks after they finish their shifts to receive their pay. For people living paycheck to paycheck, this can be challenging and may force them to take multiple jobs just to cover the gap. Digital, on-demand payment tools now enable hourly workers to receive a portion of their wages the same day they earn them.
Task Management and Learning Tools Provide a Path Forward.
A recent report from McKinsey & Company revealed that more than 70 percent of hourly workers surveyed are looking for career advancement opportunities. App-based digital task management and learning tools in multiple languages help workers in deskless jobs move up the ladder.
For brands looking to attract and retain the best employees, and in turn up their customer experience, it’s important they commit resources to modernize their frontline employee experience. It’s also time they begin to bridge the gap between desk and deskless workers, offering people on the frontline the same autonomy, flexibility and financial security that their counterparts in desk jobs have enjoyed for generations.
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