January 2023
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TD Magazine

Frontline Workers Are at Their Breaking Point

Friday, December 30, 2022

Leadership and employees need to align on solutions for burnout.

According to the latest edition of The Deskless Report from Axonify and Nudge, there's a disconnect between corporate leaders and frontline workers that could lead to even more turnover in the retail, hospitality, food services, manufacturing, and facilities management industries. Those industries are already struggling with retaining staff.


The two software solutions companies surveyed 268 corporate leaders and 1,018 deskless workers and their managers. The report reveals that the disconnect has to do with how to properly deal with understaffing and burnout. Both sides agree those are the two most significant issues facing frontline workers, but they disagree on how to solve the problems.

"Industries that rely on frontline workers are feeling a sense of urgency to better support their people to keep business on track," says Jordan Ekers, Nudge's chief operating officer and cofounder. "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."

While three-quarters of corporate executives have a positive outlook about the future of their industries, only 58 percent of their employees feel the same optimism. To make matters worse, only 39 percent of workers feel heard, a 20 percent drop from the previous year. The most alarming statistic from the study is that four out of 10 frontline workers are considering quitting their jobs, up one-third from the previous year.


Corporate leaders have advocated for initiatives targeting community and culture, but those don't jibe with what workers and managers need. Half the managers surveyed feel burned out daily. That bleeds into communication—or lack thereof—between leaders and workers. Two-thirds of corporate leaders think their communication is effective, which is an opinion only 35 percent of frontline workers hold. The significant disconnect could soon lead to a breaking point for frontline workers.

"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," says JD Dillon, Axonify's chief learning architect.

The report calls out task management tools and upskilling as two means for helping frontline workers and managers. "The good news is that deskless workers are telling you exactly what it will take to keep them," Dillon says, citing that they want to be informed, have access to tools to do their jobs effectively, feel heard, and have an active role in the business's success.

About the Author

Bobby Lewis is a writer for ATD; [email protected].

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