10 proven ways to motivate frontline employees

A survey conducted by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses reported that 66% of respondents considered leaving their job due to the pandemic. 

At first glance, it may seem like the pandemic is what caused frontline workers to feel burned out and leave their jobs, but Amanda Bettencourt, Ph.D. of the association, says,

“This was the stress test for an already stressed system.”

The employee experience for frontline workers has been overlooked for a long time, and businesses are finally paying attention. 

The truth is that frontline workers love creating a good customer experience. Matthew, a Registered Nurse at Denver Health, says,

“I love what I do. I chose this profession because I wanted to be on the frontline doing this, and there’s nothing else I want to do.”

But how can businesses make the work experience better for frontline workers?

Keep reading to learn how to motivate frontline employees and support them so they can do what they do best – taking care of your customers.

Benefits of empowering frontline staff

Many frontline workers love the work they do. Their job satisfaction comes from helping patients and creating a positive impact on customers. 

Tina Cummings, Materials Technician at Baystate Noble Hospital, explains,

“We get a sense of accomplishment doing our part to keep folks safe. We find the supplies that they need and get it to them as quickly as possible.”

When your frontline staff feels connected and empowered, they can focus on delivering an excellent customer experience. 

But, if your frontline workforce feels unsupported and unheard, employee morale can plummet and lead to burnout and a higher employee turnover rate. 

If you want to improve customer satisfaction, it starts by caring for the employees who interact with customers and patients every day.

How to motivate frontline employees

  1. Make communications accessible to everyone
  2. Personalize communication
  3. Make it easy to give and view feedback
  4. Create a single source of truth
  5. Streamline manual processes
  6. Provide ongoing training opportunities
  7. Ask frontline employees for their ideas
  8. Check in regularly and in person
  9. Celebrate achievements
  10. Put yourself in their shoes

1. Make communications accessible to everyone

According to a Frontline Employee Workplace Survey conducted by Yoobic, one in three frontline employees feel disconnected from the company. During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies had to make fast changes to business strategies and operations. 

While these changes often affected frontline employees, they didn’t feel included or well-informed. More than 75% of respondents say that receiving internal communications through a mobile app would make them feel more connected to HQ.

2. Personalize communication

Including frontline employees in internal communications is an excellent start, but it won’t solve the problem entirely. More messages don’t automatically equate to higher employee engagement. You need to make sure that your messages are meaningful to frontline employees. 

When you communicate significant changes to essential workers, make it easy to understand how any new initiatives will affect their daily work. Anticipate possible questions from frontline employees and answer them in your original message. 

For example, if you’re implementing COVID-19 precautions in-store, let employees know how you’ll be supporting them with signage or website updates so they feel supported.

3. Make it easy to give and view feedback

Some initiatives look great on paper, but they don’t work in real-time with customers. 

Ben Davis, a social worker in New York, told Time Magazine of a time when top-down pandemic precautions like remote contact made it more challenging to work and connect with individuals who suffer from mental illness symptoms like paranoia. 

What seemed like a good idea at first was ineffective and became the source of concern for many frontline workers.

According to Davis,

“It was all very different and very confusing. I don’t know how well he – a patient – understood that I was doing it to help keep him safe.”

In this case, Davis’s feedback was heard. His team implemented changes focused on the long-term protection of frontline workers, such as allowing them to stop administering medication if gloves run out.

Employees on the frontline can feel frustrated if they don’t have access to the resources they need to do their jobs.You must give frontline workers a place to provide feedback and ensure they see that the feedback has been taken and processed. 

4. Create a single source of truth

Screenshot of Blink employee intranet Hub for how to motivate frontline employees

Consider using a mobile app to deliver your intranet or knowledge Hub so your deskless employees can access the right resources.

5. Streamline manual processes

A whopping 71% of frontline workers feel bogged down by repetitive manual tasks and paperwork. One part of motivating frontline employees involves letting them focus on work that creates impact, such as working with customers. 

It may sound small, but spreading your admin work across multiple platforms means your frontline workers have to log into several websites to take care of repetitive work. 

Respect your frontline workers’ time by consolidating administrative work into a single portal and automating manual processes.

6. Provide ongoing training opportunities

There’s a direct connection between growth opportunities and employee retention. Team members who see a future with your company are more likely to stay engaged and experience high levels of job satisfaction.

During onboarding, show your frontline workers there’s a clear path to growth in your company. Then, make sure they can easily access resources to help them build the skills they need to advance. 

For example, clinic receptionists can develop skills to become Medical Assistants and then continue to advance to higher Medical Assistant levels (MA II, MA III) to earn a higher salary.

7. Ask frontline employees for their ideas

Take time during meetings to let people provide an overview of their projects, goals, and progress. 

When dealing with customer feedback issues, you can also show your frontline staff you value their expertise by asking for their opinions and suggestions. Use polls and surveys to stay tuned into the customer experience through your frontline workforce.

8. Check in regularly and in person

Too many business leaders underestimate the importance of frontline workers. A grocery store bookkeeper describes his experience to New America as, “bosses come through. They don’t speak to you. They think they’re better than you…We are the ones that are helping you make this money.”

Leaders must schedule regular site visits, but you have to remember to acknowledge on-site and remote employees and genuinely listen to them. 

Treat site visits as an opportunity to build relationships with frontline staff, show them that you’re there for them, and reinforce the idea of teamwork.

How to motivate frontline employees by sharing a work anniversary on the employee app

9. Celebrate achievements

Employee recognition is an integral part of motivating frontline employees. Take time to celebrate work-related achievements like promotions and personal milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries. 

10. Put yourself in their shoes

Learning to empathize with your frontline workers creates a better work environment for everyone. Don’t assume the challenges you face in the office are the same your remote employees deal with every day. 

Instead of making assumptions, ask your frontline employees questions about their experience and really listen when they tell you. Use questions like “How can I make it easier for you to get your work done?” to get actionable feedback from your frontline workforce.

Lead by providing support and proactively removing the obstacles that make it difficult for frontline workers to succeed.

Final thoughts: how to motivate frontline employees and boost results

How many businesses could survive without their frontline workers? And still, they’re often overlooked and misunderstood. 

Learning to motivate your frontline employees through empathy, communication, and support can transform your customer experience and overall business. Discover employee engagement for modern workforces with Blink today.