For years, companies have reduced their investment in hands-on, in-person learning and development. This is particularly true for companies with large front-line organizations. The complexity of work requirements, and the breadth of knowledge expected of front-line workers is increasing while executive attention to their development is, in many cases, decreasing. Competitive pressures and profit expectations are an obvious justification, but the negative impact on employee and customer satisfaction needs to be measured as well. After all, if companies do not support their people on the front-line, and equip them to answer questions and solve complex problems, how can those people be asked to have empathy for customers and co-workers facing the same questions and problems?
Front-line workers are generally in the beginning stages of their careers. Their experiences will make a lasting impression on their view of workplace dynamics. Additionally, success in their jobs will make a big impact on their forward mobility. Employers know that positive employee, customer and company impacts are possible with proper support. The challenge is that of efficiency, reach and cost. Regardless, companies who do not prioritize this need will likely foster a frustrated and apathetic front-line workforce.
Even in companies that do invest in the front-line, follow-up and alignment to operational results is a challenge. Businesses find difficulty in measuring the impact of their front-line development investments. They struggle to correlate the spend to employee satisfaction, performance, and positive business impact. This “IQ” approach to measuring impact is not sufficient. The case can be made that an “EQ” approach to understanding the impact of front-line engagement investments should be considered.
The “EQ” value of Engaging Front-Line Employees
Leaders who engage their teams on a direct and personal level demonstrate concern for the total employee experience. A company culture wherein leaders are skilled in creating and maintaining connection to their teams sends the message “we care.” When people sense they are cared for and understood, it promotes adoption of business values and initiatives. This in turn, enhances the results that a company wants to achieve. Companies who can extend this culture of connection and engagement to peer-to-peer support, shared goals and celebration of success can accelerate that adoption.
“Field” managers (those responsible for the front-line teams) need to be involved in directing engagement culture and the investments that support it. The dispersed nature of the field creates unique technology needs that should be addressed differently than the needs of office workers. For example, a culture statement that includes field manager feedback could look like:
- Our culture dictates that we engage and support all of our people. Therefore:
- What are we doing for our front-line workers?
- What have they told us they need?
- How do we stay connected to them?
- How do we ensure they feel engaged and supported, regardless of their location?
- What measures are we going to put in place to ensure we are achieving this cultural goal?
- What technologies will we utilize to support this cultural goal?
Incorporating the front-line employees’ needs, through the lens of engagement and connection with leaders and peers throughout the work day, aligns to an EQ approach to identifying and justifying investment.
Companies can rest assured, however, that the results will be real and measurable. The front-line worker has the biggest impact on a company’s customer satisfaction, brand impression, sales and efficiencies. Closing the support gap with these dispersed teams through engagement, communication and company culture, and utilizing the right technology to do so, will drive tangible benefits.
Rodio can close this support gap for your organization. We have a passion for the front-line and that passion drives our product goals. Most of our team has worked on and with the front-line in our careers. We focus on their needs and empowering them to be successful in your mission, through creating connections to your experts, your resources and your systems.
Check out this article that describes a company culture of engagement and support and the positive impact it has had on sales. It’s a great illustration of how an “EQ” approach drives high “IQ” results.