New Research Reveals Deep-rooted Gaps In the Frontline Employee Experience Are Finally Reaching a Breaking Point

The Deskless Report 2022 uncovers agreement between corporate and frontline, deskless workers around understaffing and burnout, but there is a disconnect on a path forward.

Axonify and Nudge, top-rated software solutions for frontline learning, communications, and execution released The Deskless Report 2022 which uncovers new and alarming disconnects between corporate leaders and their frontline workers and managers that could lead to increased turnover in industries already struggling to keep employees.

While executives are aware of frontline struggles, this new survey of 268 corporate leaders and 1,018 deskless workers and their managers, suggest they are misaligned on how to address understaffing and burnout — the top two issues that both sides agree are the top disruptors facing the front lines today. The full report provides strategic insights to guide operational excellence and a better employee experience in key industries reliant on frontline workers.

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The data also shows 74% of executives have a positive outlook about the future of their industry, compared with their employees at 58%, and that only 39% of workers feel heard (a staggering drop from 59% last year). The most alarming finding is that 42% of frontline workers are considering quitting their job, up from 36% last year.

“Industries that rely on frontline workers are feeling a sense of urgency to better support their people to keep business on track,” said Jordan Ekers, COO and Co-Founder of Nudge. “This study points out opportunities to create better alignment between corporate leaders and their people at a time when employee turnover is at an all-time high.”

The survey, conducted by third-party research firm The Starr Conspiracy, gathered insights from corporate leaders, frontline managers, and workers in retail, hospitality, food services, manufacturing, and facilities management businesses.

While corporate leaders are focused on investments that ensure their frontline is loyal and empowered to succeed, there’s a disconnect on what this workforce actually needs – and whether or not they’re getting it.

One disconnect uncovered in the study showed corporate leaders advocating for initiatives that target community and culture, while workers are still struggling with more fundamental needs around livelihood and stability. Nearly half (49%) of managers, for example, are burnt out on a daily basis. Considering that 80% of frontline workers rely on their manager for information, the data suggest these industries are nearing a breaking point. Yet only 39% of frontline workers say their companies invest in technologies to meet their needs.

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While 65% of corporate leaders believe their communication is effective, only 35% of frontline workers agree. And 75% of corporate leaders believe their organization invests in new technologies for frontline workers, yet only 39% of frontline workers agree. Nearly half (43%) of frontline managers also identified a lack of training that impacts their day-to-day work. The study also found that adequate training and upskilling was among the top three contributing factors impacting happiness and success.

As a result, frontline workers and managers are desperate for support, stability, and some kind of response to understaffing and burnout — all factors that are preventing businesses from thriving and growing. Frontline managers are crucial to execution of corporate goals with workers relying on 8 of 10 key categories of critical information, which is typically shared through 1:1 communication.

“It’s time to stop talking about employee experience as a vague, nebulous concept and start making sure frontline employees have the tools they need to feel good about the hard work they do every day,” said JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect at Axonify. “Why should deskless workers be asked to rely on antiquated tactics like bulletin boards and paper binders when customers have immediate access to vast amounts of information via their smartphones?”

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