How to measure employee engagement for frontline workers

Frontline workforce: 6 methods to measure employee engagement

Retaining your frontline workers largely depends on how engaged they are. Blink shows you how to measure employee engagement for your organization.


A 2022 Gallup report on the work environment found that businesses with engaged employees have 23% higher profits than companies with miserable workers. Such businesses also see lower absenteeism and higher customer loyalty.

That said, low engagement remains a critical issue for businesses with frontline employees. 

Nearly half (45%) of human resource and internal comms managers criticize their company’s lack of understanding of how to improve employee engagement — especially for frontline workers.

The solution starts with developing effective employee engagement strategies tailored to the frontline workforce to create a better company culture, reduce staff turnover, and eventually boost your company’s profits.

But first, you need to know how to measure the engagement levels of your frontline employees.

How to measure employee engagement?

Both survey and non-survey methods are available to measure employee engagement. Typically, it’s best to use a mix of both to get a holistic overview of employee engagement.

Survey methods

Surveys are easy to create and help you reach a considerable number of employees at once. They are a great start when building the foundation for your employee engagement efforts.

However, frontline workers are constantly on the move and it can be difficult to get them to provide detailed and honest responses. A feedback form or survey doesn’t allow for any personal interaction between managers and employees and doesn’t account for insights that result from natural conversations.

So it’s always important to get additional insights from a variety of other methods.

Here are two survey tools you can implement:

1. Employee engagement surveys

Engagement surveys measure employees’ experience, motivation, and passion for their job and organization. They reveal how your employees go about their daily jobs and what you can do to improve their engagement. 

You can use them to get ideas on areas for improvement and a basis for new recommendations and goals. 

Similarly, you can use employee surveys to evaluate your company’s culture and see whether the desired cultural values are practiced among desk-based and deskless employees. 

However, employee engagement surveys are only effective if you conduct them correctly. 

Best practices for conducting employee surveys. 

Here are four best practices for conducting employee surveys:

  • Use a mix of survey questions: Ask both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. This helps your company collect the most insights into employee engagement without overwhelming the respondents.
  • Leverage mobile apps: Paper surveys don’t cut it. They’re time-consuming since you wait for employees to return the survey papers before you can analyze them, and they’re often disregarded by employees completely. In contrast, a mobile app cuts that time significantly as it gathers information automatically, and the response is almost instant. So, create surveys that employees can complete from their personal or corporate devices from any location. 
  • Share employee survey results: Share the anonymous results with your office and frontline workers and let them know what actions you’ll take. Your managers need to assure them that they’re listening to them. 
  • Consider doing surveys during strategic periods: Schedule the survey during historically slow periods so that employees have enough time to devote to the survey. Conversely, avoid conducting surveys during high-stress periods or bonus season. Such periods skew the survey results and give an unrealistic picture of everyday employee engagement and satisfaction.

2. Employee net promoter score (eNPS)

Chances are your organization is already using the net promoter score (NPS) to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. The same metric can also be used internally to measure employee engagement.

The employee net promoter score (eNPS) provides a solid basis for understanding employee engagement and loyalty in a cost-effective way. 

By tracking the eNPS scores over time, you can identify trends in employee engagement — which can help you understand how the changes you implement affect staff engagement. 

Expert tip: eNPS is not the most effective way to measure engagement since it tells you the ‘what’ but not the ‘why.’ Only measure employee engagement via eNPS if you can follow it up with more detailed methods, such as employee engagement surveys.

Non-survey methods

Non-survey methods enable you to have more face-to-face interactions with your frontline workforce, look at quantitative data to support your insights, and develop strategies to stop problems from escalating. 

1. Absenteeism rate

Absenteeism is the habitual failure to come to work or stay there during working hours, and it is often unplanned and unannounced.

Every employee misses work once in a while but it’s important to differentiate unexcused absences from legitimate ones, and to be aware of the disruption that absenteeism can cause to your organization. That’s because it will negatively affect anyone working with this individual and undermine trust between employees and management and the employees themselves.

It’s a strong indicator that your company needs to make adjustments before this behavior impacts your workforce’s productivity and relationships. Absenteeism is often also a reflection of poor management, so your managers must be aligned on the appropriate policies and be upskilled to develop their leadership abilities. 

To measure the absenteeism rate, divide the number of unexcused absences in a given period by the total workdays. Multiply the result by 100 to get the absenteeism rate for that period.

Absenteeism rate formula.

As a rule of thumb, an absenteeism rate of 1.5% is considered healthy. Employees do fall ill and request time off for various reasons, so you shouldn’t expect a rate below 1.5%.

However, an absenteeism rate above 2% indicates issues. Your workers may be burnt out, feeling disengaged, or in conflict with their peers or supervisors. 

The best way to prevent employee absenteeism is to intervene early. 

Develop an action plan by: 

  • Asking your managers to arrange regular check-in meetings, especially with underperforming employees. 
  • Implementing flexible work policies for employees struggling with personal issues. 
  • Getting your managers to address the problems between workers who are having conflicts.
  • Ensuring management forms meaningful connections with employees and their leadership style receives positive feedback.

2. Employee app with analytics feature

Due to the nature of frontline organizations – informal work situations, physical distance, and a reliance on paper – many leaders aren’t aware of the reasons for a lack of engagement and an increasing turnover rate in their business.

Feedback and surveys don’t always give you the response rates you want, and employees don’t always provide insights you can act on. To address this, you can implement an employee app to create a digital space that invites a multidirectional, real-time conversation where frontline workers naturally speak to management and each other.

You can also use this technology to measure the outcome of such an environment and assess how your workers engage with your content, interact with other teammates, and participate in company-wide conversations. 

For instance, Blink is an employee app that offers Frontline Intelligence: an integrated analytics tool, which measures employee engagement by tracking:

  • Content metrics: See how your workers interact with posts, files, or pages you share. You can track important metrics such as reach, impressions, likes, comments, and link clicks. 
  • Communication flows: View how many team members communicate with others using the employee app. Visualize the growth in communication and changes in relationships over time to keep a tab on your organization’s employee engagement.
  • Internal trends: Get an overview of trending posts and topics in the employee feed to understand which content performs best and when.
A powerful analytics tool helps you measure the levels of employee engagement.

This allows you to uncover who your promoters of engagement are, and who’s in line with your company’s mission and values. It rewards you with a feedback loop where you are capturing your employees’ inner voice – insights that aren’t explicitly communicated to you – and integrating that into your output.

This data can help you detect feelings of disengagement early on and do a root cause analysis before they become a serious problem, affect productivity and quality of work, and increase your turnover rate.

Ensure that you also measure the adoption rate for your employee app. A high adoption rate can be indicative that your employees are engaged in their roles and understand the value that a new tool is bringing to the business. You may see differences in app usage trends between the office and frontline workers. It If that’s the case, add questions surrounding employee app usage in the next employee survey. 

If you’re looking for an employee app that’s designed for frontline organizations, check out Blink. This all-in-one platform gives:

  • Frontline workers access to the people, processes, communications, and applications they need to do their jobs — all through their corporate or personal devices. 
  • Leaders access to the data they need to improve the employee experience in meaningful ways.

3. Voluntary turnover rate

If an employee voluntarily resigns from an organization, it’s voluntary turnover. 

To calculate the voluntary turnover rate, divide the number of employees that voluntarily left your company by the average number of workers you had during that period.

Voluntary turnover rate formula.

Voluntary turnover is on the rise. According to the Institute of Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Fortune’s global survey of 1,195 respondents in Q1 of 2022, 77% of large organizations experienced high voluntary turnover in 2021.

Large organizations experienced high voluntary turnover in 2021. 

These are the top reasons of voluntary turnover outlined in Microsoft’s 2022 Work Index report:

  • Personal well-being or mental health (24%)
  • Work-life balance (24%)
  • Lack of confidence in senior management or leadership (21%)
  • Lack of flexible work hours or location (21%)

In other words, a high voluntary turnover rate means your workers struggle to stay engaged with the company due to a lack of support and direction. 

If you notice high voluntary turnover, conduct a voluntary turnover analysis to know the exact cause:

  • Check for trends: Compare your voluntary turnover rate to the previous period and look for possible trends and early warnings. For instance, if you see many employees leaving after two years, it may be due to a lack of career advancement opportunities. And if you see new hires leaving within the first year, onboarding might be the issue.
  • Gather employee feedback: Collect qualitative data from surveys and exit interviews to determine why employees leave your organization.
  • Prepare an employee turnover report: Translate the voluntary turnover data into monetary value. That’ll help you follow up with different departments and levels of hierarchy and develop an actionable plan to increase retention rates. 

Analyzing the voluntary turnover rates for the first year is especially important since new employees represent a lot of pure cost. A time-to-productivity analysis can tell you when an employee’s productivity has risen to a point where their contribution outweighs their cost. 

For example, if the average threshold productivity occurs at the six-month mark, any employee who leaves before that incurs a financial loss to the company.

4. Performance reviews and feedback meetings

Performance reviews and regular feedback meetings come in handy when deciding on employee compensation, training, and career development. But you can also use them to gauge employee engagement. 

Highly-engaged workers are more likely to perform well in their jobs. Gallup found that engaged workers are 18% more likely to have above-average employee productivity. 

Engaged workers are more likely to perform well in their jobs.

To effectively gauge your employees’ performance and improve engagement, develop a continuous feedback process so that employees know how they’re doing and what’s expected.

Here’s how you can implement a reliable feedback process:

  • Create a list of opportunities when employee feedback can give you critical insights into how your company operates, such as at the close of onboarding and recruitment or during quarterly and annual performance reviews.
  • Use various methods and strategies to collect feedback to keep employees engaged and get the most relevant answers for the situation.
  • Automate the employee feedback system to ensure you send the correct surveys to the right people at the appropriate times.
  • Implement engaging and constructive conversations between managers and employees at least once every two months. Ensure managers are practicing active listening and that they are actually implementing change based on the feedback. 

Final thoughts: How to measure employee engagement for frontline workers

Whatever your employee engagement metrics and methods show, keep trying to improve since there’s no perfect amount of employee engagement. It’s important to note that engagement is not an activity, project, or initiative; it’s an outcome you earn from consistently offering value to your business.

You’ve got many digital tools to keep a tab on employee engagement. However, the best tool is one that’s designed specifically for your employees. 

If you’ve got a frontline-focused workforce, check out Blink. It comes with digital forms, interactive employee surveys, and cutting-edge content analytics to measure and actively improve employee engagement.

Blink provides a solution to fixing the broken feedback loop and filling the knowledge gap between leadership and frontline workers.

Read more about how Blink helps you measure employee engagement.

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