Microsoft released a Special Report on Work Trend Index for Frontline Workers detailing the data on frontline workers during the pandemic. The survey was conducted on 9,600 frontline employees and managers in eight industries across five continents. At 2 billion, they make up 80% of the global workforce with 88% of organizations employing frontline workers. The data aims to highlight the challenges businesses across the world are facing and finding out how technology can help ease the burden on these essential workers.
The key findings disclosed in the Work Trend Index are:
Communication gap between levels
76% of frontline workers are reported to have increased peer bonding with each other. However, communication isn’t happening successfully across levels. 63% of workers say messages from leadership don’t make it to them while 32% feel their voice goes unheard while communicating issues in the workplace. 69% of frontline managers say their higher-ups are not communicating effectively with them. Many reported physical and mental exhaustion with as many as 60% wishing more effort was taken up by companies to support them.
The top five reasons for work-related stress were attributed to workload (45%), low wages (44%), long workdays (41%), managing needs of customers (35%), and COVID-19 protocols (33%). As the pandemic enters its third year, 58% of frontline workers believe that work stress will either stay the same or worsen in the coming year.
Globally, frontline workers have cited better pay and work-life balance, pay increases and benefits and flexibility in the way they work as the top reasons for considering a job change.
According to data from LinkedIn, people who are quitting jobs are doing so to seek new experiences. Additionally, 7 out of 10 industries examined in the report have now exceeded pre-pandemic hiring levels with all industries except retail experiencing double-digit year-over-year growth.
Investments in educating workers to make the best use of technology are ultimately as important as investments in the tech itself
Tech and Work
Despite fear that technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning will replace human skills, data shows workers are growing optimistic about tech. 63% of frontline workers are excited about the job opportunities that tech creates. Tech also ranks high on the list of factors that could help reduce work-related stress, just behind better pay and paid time off. According to the report, between March 2020 and November 2021, the monthly use of Microsoft Teams on the frontline grew by 400 percent with the most growth seen in healthcare, financial services, and media and communications.
However, there’s a gap between tech implementation and training for the same. 46% of frontline workers fear losing their jobs if they don’t adapt to new tech with 55% saying they’ve had to learn it on the job without formal training or practice. Across eight countries, approximately one-third of frontline workers report that they are not equipped with the tools they need.
After examining the data from the survey, experts at Microsoft have recommended three areas where companies can focus first to address the issue of supporting frontline workers:
Rebuild culture on the frontlines
According to the data, many frontline workers have built foundational relationships with each other, but more can be done from the management level to foster connection and culture from the top. Leaders should proactively make time to connect and understand the experiences faced by frontline workers, spell out the company’s mission and purpose to them and explain how they are contributing to it and appreciate their efforts.
Empower workers with the right tech
According to research conducted by Frost & Sullivan, nearly one-third of surveyed organizations do not consider their frontline workers fully empowered and digitally well-equipped. Empowering frontline workers with the right technology has a two-way advantage of making their jobs easier and enabling secure communication between customers, each other, and corporate. It also allows employees to focus on what matters most, whether that’s the customer or the essential task at hand. Frost & Sullivan data show that empowering frontline workers with the right technology tools will be a top priority and a key part of business transformation programs among forward-thinking organizations around the world for the next several years.
Prioritize and modernize training
Providing the latest tech should go hand-in-hand with adequate training. Providing frontline workers with the training they need to adopt new technologies will help them do their best work.
According to the report, almost one-third of organisations are unable to meet or exceed their frontline worker objectives due to the inefficiencies related to change management and adoption processes of digital technology.
In order to aid frontline workers in their daily work-life, Microsoft is introducing digital solutions like the Teams Walkie Talkie app, Viva Learning app, Microsoft Cloud for Retail,etc. with industry partners.