The Shift - April 13th, 2023


Missed The Shift in your inbox last week? Recap on what was covered in Blink’s fortnightly update for frontline leaders on April 13, 2023 — and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss another edition.

What would you ask a frontline wellbeing expert?

The Shift is going LIVE for the first time next week! 

Join us for an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on the theme of frontline stress and wellbeing on Thursday April 20 at 12pm ET/5pm BST.

Mental Health First Aid trainer Chris Stewart of Minding Minds will be sharing his advice and taking your questions, with more panelists soon to be announced.

Register your interest and send us your questions.

The role of engagement for health and safety standards

Health and safety is often seen as a compliance matter: a hygiene factor in all frontline environments. But what happens when we look at health and safety through an employee engagement lens

Writing the policies and teaching the procedures is just step one — from there you need to encourage buy-in and shared accountability across the whole team.

This article from Food Safety Magazine talks about the importance of frontline engagement in achieving health and safety standards: “Engaging with frontline team members is particularly powerful because they are the ones who make food safety decisions and put them into action in real time.”

The article also touches on the concept of ‘nudging’ and using not just physical marking and posters to remind staff of best practices, but inspiring social normative changes through peer-based messaging and sharing recognition in a group setting.

In one example, staff at a CPG factory had started to view health and safety notices as “wallpaper”, leading the organization to use employee feedback initiatives to create an ongoing conversation with the team. The company “now has many more team members taking action to change and improve food safety”.

Learn more about frontline safety strategies here.

Healthcare workers need operational excellence

At Blink, we talk a lot about the ‘leaky bucket’ from recruitment to retention — and how urgently healthcare leaders must act to protect patient care in the face of high attrition. 

Compensation is no doubt an attrition factor, as demonstrated by the UK’s junior doctor strike happening this week. It’s not the only attrition factor to consider though. Healthcare workers need to feel valued for the essential work they do, and that means paying them fairly, listening to their input, and creating safe, secure, patient-centric work environments. 

recent piece from Harvard Business Review explains that: “organizational culture, including a commitment to excellence, is what makes [healthcare workers] stay”

And it’s hardly surprising.

Healthcare is a career that many enter to help people and fulfill an altruistic purpose. Fair compensation is required to support healthcare workers’ livelihoods and they want to work for organizations that meet their values when it comes to patient care. 

“In our analyses, for all types of health care personnel, their organizations’ commitment to quality and patient-centered care was among the top drivers of their likelihood to stay. When employees gave their organization low ratings on these issues, they were more than six times as likely to say they were preparing to leave. These issues were important to security guards, maintenance, and clerical personnel as well as clinicians”, states HBR. 

Listening to staff is one way to demonstrate shared values. As one ICU nurse interviewed for a separate article explains: “I’ve seen many healthcare workers struggling with burnout or mental health who feel no one is listening. It’s meaningful to me that the company I work for is taking this seriously and providing real-world solutions.”

Making your retail business a Great Place to Work

Retention isn’t a struggle specific to healthcare — it’s a risk for frontline businesses across the board. Turnover for full-time convenience store workers was 130% last year, for example, and the number rose to 152% when workers were part-time.

Culture and organizational values play another important role here, as “great, quality places are people-focused, flexible, adaptable, collaborative, and inclusive” (Kristen Magni, founder of strategic consulting practice C Future LLC).

  • People-focused: Encourage retail employees to build a career within your business; adopting a long-term mindset versus viewing the job from paycheck to paycheck
  • Flexible and adaptable: Careers are associated with certain benefits that casual work tends not to offer — and you may need to reconsider your employment packages as a result. Sheetz, a convenience retailer employing 25,000 people in the US, has become a competitive hirer and eight-time Great Place to Work by offering day care for employees’ dependants and improved paid leave
  • Collaborative: First-line managers at RaceTrac, another US convenience store chain, are invited to quarterly, in-person meetings combining culture, team building, leadership development, and operations training. “Advisory councils” are also held by regional leaders — gathering feedback and ideas on culture and general improvements from across the frontline team
  • Inclusive: While each of the examples above has inclusivity at its heart, Sheetz takes it a step further with its inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) program

These success stories may be from the retail sector, but the learnings are applicable to any frontline organization.

Experience your business model from the frontline

In the last edition of The Shift, we praised Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan for the time he’s spending on the frontline — and the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, has been in the driver’s seat too. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Khosrowshahi’s moonlighting was part of a campaign “to better understand and improve Uber’s experience for drivers”, moving toward a driver-friendly culture that boosts employee loyalty.

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