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Frontline workers say management feels “out of touch” with their roles and can do a better job of communicating 

Media Release | By | 16 Jun 2022 | 3 minute read

As businesses grapple with frontline worker retention and labor shortages, new data shows that critical messages from HQ aren’t hitting the mark

A new survey has revealed a widening divide between frontline workers and their HQ counterparts. More than 1 in 3 (40%) of frontline workers said management is “out of touch” with their role based on the communications they receive from HQ.

The YouGov data commissioned by SafetyCulture represents the views of American, British and Australian “frontline workers” – individuals who must “physically show up to their job”, including the likes of hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and logistics workers. With frontliners making up 80% of the global workforce, the data shines a light on major opportunities to better engage the workforce largely responsible for keeping the world moving.

The survey revealed:

  • More than 1 in 4 frontline workers (32%) don’t have time to read or act on HQ communications and more than 1 in 4 (30%) said internal communications get in the way of performing their role and tasks. 
  • More than 1 in 3 frontline workers agree the communications they receive from HQ are often irrelevant (42%) and not engaging (43%).
  • Almost half of the frontline workers (49%) also said they couldn’t “put a face to the name” of most HQ team members they communicate with.

Find the right channel for “deskless” workers

The survey also spotlighted the importance of one central channel for critical communications that is accessible and practical for frontline teams:

  • More than 1 in 4 American frontline workers (28%) said there was no go-to communication channel for important updates in their workplace
  • More than 1 in 4 American frontline workers (32%) stated that if there was a channel, it didn’t actually work for their role.

Commenting on the data, Bob Butler, Chief Customer Officer at SafetyCulture said, “Given most businesses are dealing with the effects of supply chain issues and labor shortages, communicating with teams on the frontline is more critical than ever. However, frontline workers can be challenging to reach given they aren’t always at a desk and often don’t have a company email address.”

“Many businesses have continued to invest in providing their white-collar workers with high-quality tools and technology for remote communication but enabling the frontline is a blind spot for some organizations. There’s a real opportunity to improve in this space, particularly with low-cost mobile-first technology.”

Time for a simple ‘heads up’?

SafetyCulture is aiming to help improve communication between HQ and the frontline, via a new ‘Heads Up’ feature in its flagship product, iAuditor. The feature creates a one-stop messaging broadcast center and allows organizations to record short videos or image-based messages and send them out to team members at the click of a button. 

“Our survey findings really shine a light on what we’ve been hearing from our customers for some time – communicating with the frontline has been tough and it’s getting tougher. That’s why we developed ‘Heads Up’ and we’re confident it will help to solve some of the simple issues that businesses are facing when it comes to communicating,” says Butler.

The launch follows the recent release of an Issues feature in iAuditor, which empowers frontline workers to report potential issues at work. The capture and notify functionality further connects leaders and frontline workers to help address under-reporting. Issues was recently recognized in Fast Company’s 2022 World-Changing Ideas list, and the feature has seen 58% growth in users quarter on quarter since launching in October 2021.

SafetyCulture’s new mobile-first “Heads Up’ feature is available via iAuditor free of charge for teams of up to 10 people. 

About the research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,980 adults (858 US, 553 Australia, 569 UK). Fieldwork was undertaken during April 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of US, UK and AU frontline workers (aged 18+).

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SafetyCulture staff writer

SafetyCulture Team

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