3 Ways Frontline Workforce Technology Helps Lower Attrition

As the industry struggles to fill nearly 2 million job openings, hospitality brands are rethinking their technology budgets and deciding to equip their frontline employees with digital workplace tools that boost productivity, job happiness and retention.

Hospitality companies have been adopting technologies to enhance the customer experience and make life more convenient for guests for decades—think key cards and in-room checkout via the TV screen in hotels, loyalty apps that automatically track and apply customers’ rewards points, and computer tablets and screen kiosks that let diners order and pay in QSR locations. The industry historically has been much more reluctant to invest in technology that is designed to directly empower frontline employees and make their lives —  and not just their customers’ lives — better.

That’s now changing, partly as a result of the labor crunch in the US hospitality and leisure industry. Companies in these sectors are still short at least half a million workers compared to before the pandemic, even after adding 128,000 employees to payrolls in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Eighty-seven percent of operators say they’ll likely hire additional employees during the next 6–12 months if qualified applicants are availableaccording to the National Restaurant Association's 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report.  

As the industry struggles to fill nearly 2 million job openings, many more hospitality and leisure brands are rethinking their technology budgets and deciding to equip their frontline employees with digital workplace tools that boost productivity, job happiness and retention.

Empowering Employees with Tech

Frontline workforce technology can help lower turnover and improve both the employee and customer experience by facilitating three of the things customer-facing staff value almost as highly as compensation and health benefits:

Flexibility in scheduling

  • With the Covid pandemic waning, fewer frontline employees are out sick with the virus or struggling to manage their work responsibilities while caring for a loved one who is sick. However, frontline workers’ desire for more flexibility and control over their schedules has not diminished. To better meet these needs, companies can deploy digital tools like open-shift marketplaces that empower frontline staff to easily swap and take on additional shifts, whether at their primary work location, another location in their area or even a sister brand location.

To give frontline staff more control over their budgets, employers can provide access to digital tools that let workers receive their pay on a flexible schedule or immediately following a shift rather than only on the 1st and 15th of the month or every two weeks according to a traditional schedule.

Engagement and a sense of purpose at work

  • In an age where 97% of Americans own a cellphone, according to the Pew Research Center, and 85% own a smartphone, companies that still communicate with frontline workers via paper memos and lists and signs on bulletin boards are missing an opportunity. To connect with and engage employees more deeply, leading brands are investing in two-way communications technology that builds a stronger sense of community and trust by enabling frontline employees and management to easily and quickly connect with one another across all levels of the organization.

These solutions also help ensure leaders can share consistent messages with all employees about the company’s overall mission and vision, reinforcing workplace culture and helping foster a greater sense of purpose and ownership by ensuring frontline employees understand how their own roles contribute to the organization’s higher-level goals.

Opportunities for advancement

  • A 2022 study byMcKinsey & Company found that more than 70% of frontline workers have applied for career advancement opportunities, whether inside their own organization or elsewhere. The finding indicates that companies that clearly map out career development paths within their organization are more likely to hang on to the frontline employees they have already invested so much in through recruiting, onboarding and training. Companies also need to provide frontline staffs with technology that facilitates their ongoing development, whether that’s additional training related to their current role, cross-training or upskilling. Managers who can provide mentorship and encouragement also play a key role in communicating pathways to long-term career growth within an organization.

Many hospitality and leisure companies have already increased wages and benefits to better compete for talent and are now leveraging frontline workforce technology to ensure they generate sufficient ROI on those investments. By empowering their frontline staff with the kinds of digital solutions they have been adopting for decades to improve the customer experience, strong brands are boosting their teams’ productivity, knowledge and engagement, helping to lower attrition and improve workplace happiness.

About the Author

Steven Kramer is CEO and Co-founder of WorkJam, the leading digital frontline workplace, and manages the company’s overall operations.He has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience driving results and developing disruptive technologies for the retail industry.