Blog19 March 2024

What is so special about frontline employees?

Written by:

Gary Makredes

Practice Manager North America

Frontline employees have many names, such as hourly workers, associates, casual workers and customer facing workforce. Examples of frontline workers are those who staff retail and grocery stores, restaurants, warehouses, hospitals and health clinics, and manufacturing locations. Frontline workers are essential to delivering brand promises, from selling food and goods to producing and shipping widgets to proving patient care and everything in between.

Gartner estimates that there are 2.7 billion frontline workers — more than twice the number of desk-based workers.”

Frontline workers make our society and economies work — this has always been the case. However, it was the outset of the COVID-19 epidemic and global lockdowns that shocked the world into seeing frontline workers as they always have been: essential.


The fragility of the frontline workers

Employers have historically relied on inexpensive, readily available labour. This approach to human capital was contingent on the ability to replace employees quickly. That way of thinking was put to test in 2020 — that way of thinking is long gone.

How is ‘frontline employee power’ shaping the future?

Employees have more power than they ever have before. We see it manifesting itself in many ways — unionisation, quitting, and wage increases are a few examples. One stat showcases this new power better than any other — the relationship between open or “vacant” jobs and the number of people who are unemployed.

"11 million jobs were open or “vacant” in January 2023. While just 5.7 million people were unemployed. "

Employers are left to decide: “How do I become the employer of choice?” – Enter the four pillars of the frontline workforce.

What are the four pillars of frontline work?

With new constraints on labour, the productivity question becomes: “How do I do more with less?”. Employers know the formula for output is “labour hours x productivity” but what is the key for better output? Despite the abundance of frontline work and changing labour dynamics, technology initiatives have often focused solely on desk-based workers. Simply put, frontline workers have been left behind.

Luckily technology does exist to impact frontline workers and their productivity. The key is to focus the 4 essential pillars required to manage the frontline:

  • Boosting & Sustaining Productivity
  • Employee Growth and Development
  • Agile Operations and a Consistent Experience
  • Workplace Engagement & Belonging

These pillars are realised by providing frontline employees with the right mix of tools to work at their best — in a way that fits their lives. Together, the pillars foster community and provide a sense of accomplishment by employees efficiently completing work.

For employers, the 4 pillars increase the employee and customer experience while avoiding the need to hire additional people. They provide transparency and new data points to improve processes. And the pillars build a culture of learning that continually up-skills the workforce.


Frontline employees are everywhere. They are critical pieces of society and are key contributors to delivering your business objectives.

The two major questions that help address business needs (1) How do I become an employer of choice? and (2) How do I do more with less? are two sides of the same coin. They have the same solution: Connect your frontline back into your business.

Coincidentally, the outcomes of a connected frontline are happy, engaged employees that have higher productivity. Win-win-win.

Simms & Associates Partners with Workjam

In a recent announcement, we unveiled an exciting partnership with WorkJam, the leading digital frontline workplace platform. This collaboration signifies a pivotal moment in our mission to empower frontline workers. By combining WorkJam’s innovative technology with our expertise in workforce management solutions, we aim to revolutionise how businesses engage and empower their frontline employees. Through seamless integration and tailored solutions, we’re equipping organisations in retail, hospitality, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors with the tools they need to unlock the full potential of their frontline workforce. Together, we’re not just reshaping workforce management – we’re empowering frontline workers to thrive in their roles and drive business success.

If you have questions about how to connect your frontline back into your business, request a consultation.

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