The magic recipe for avoiding information overload with your frontline staff

The magic recipe for avoiding information overload with your frontline staff

We’ve already talked about how information overload could be having a serious negative impact on your frontline staffIt’s a problem afflicting much of the modern workforce due to the rise of tech and easy access to information. Information overload makes it difficult to make sound decisions, causes stress and mental health issues, and in some cases has even caused depression and serious medical complications. 

According to a report by Deloitte, “information overload and the always-connected 24/7 work environment are overwhelming workers, undermining productivity and contributing to low employee engagement.”

Luckily, there’s a solution. Here’s the magic recipe for avoiding information overload – and sharing communications your staff will actually read and retain. 

1. Run an internal communications audit

The first thing you should always do when you try to improve a problem is to investigate it fully. An internal communications audit will help you determine:

  • The extent of the problem
  • The problem’s impact on productivity and quality
  • Any effect on morale
  • Likely causes
  • Potential solutions

Note that this audit doesn’t have to be a comprehensive, all-encompassing audit, either. You can run an audit with a very limited scope (in fact, that could be even more effective at getting useful results than a general-purpose audit). 

An audit for this purpose would cover informational overload and the factors contributing to it, such as internal communication policies, tools being used, and the format and nature of the content being sent out. 

2. Keep things short and bite-sized

Frontline staff can’t leaf through dense, multi-page documents, or watch an entire 15-minute corporate video. They simply don’t have the time. 

Instead, keep it short and simple. If you’re sharing an announcement or product information, limit yourself to a few key points, and then direct staff to longer resources in a central hub. If it’s a video, chop it down to a few minutes, max. 

It sounds counter-intuitive, but making your communications shorter will actually increase your chances of getting your entire message across.

3. Triage what information goes out and when

The Deskless Report found that while 86% of frontline leaders say they’re sending meaningful communications to their workers, 59% of frontline workers say the communications they receive aren’t actually useful.

This is a serious gap in the effectiveness of internal communications that can not only lead to information overload – it can erode your workforce’s trust in management. By sending out too many irrelevant communications, or sending the wrong information at the wrong time, you’re sending the message that head office is out of touch with what’s really going on at the frontline – and your workforce will stop paying attention. 

Every type of internal communication has a time and a place. It’s up to you as a leader to know when it’s a good time to send one out, and when it’s better to hold off or consolidate communications for another time. Not only will this result in avoiding information overload – it will build trust with your staff and drive more engagement with your communications. 

4. Focus on targeted, segmented communications

We’ve all fallen prey to the “cc” and “bcc” traps – and the same pitfalls are possible with frontline communication. One of the best things you can do to reduce information overload is to limit communications to highly targeted groups. Just because you can copy the entire frontline workforce, doesn’t mean you should

The longer it takes employees to sort through their messages and find what’s relevant to them, the less time they have to digest what’s actually important. Be intentional about how you target your comms. What do frontline workers need to know versus floor managers? Does every region need to get an announcement about an upcoming promotion, or is it just relevant to the west coast? If you’re re-sharing information, does it need to go to everyone, or just the workers who are still exhibiting knowledge gaps? 

For example, in a recent webinar, Tania Walsh, Manager of Digital Communications Strategy at telecommunications brand TELUS, talked about how she mitigates communication fatigue by targeting associates based on three tenures and knowledge levels –  Novice, Average, and Master. Meaning, new hires get a lot more context than a sales rep that has been with the organization for a decade. 

5. Include the “why” 

Information overload isn’t just about the amount of information received; it’s also about the quality of information. How easy is it to digest and remember? Can a frontline employee immediately internalize the information they’re getting?

Giving context, or the “why,” when you communicate often makes it more accessible for staff, so that they can better understand and act on the information you’re giving them. 

Let’s say you’re announcing a policy change. If you give specific reasons for the policy change, it increases the likelihood employees will support the change and even be motivated to help other team members adjust, too. It also arms them with the information they need to provide a memorable customer or guest experience while implementing the changes. 

Not that it’s always easy. “Sometimes it can seem like the enemy of simplicity is context,” says Walsh. But it’s important to give that sense of “why” while being concise. Walsh always tries to bake three “whys” into her communications: why it’s important for the company, why it’s important for the associate, and why it’s important for the customer. “It brings them along in the journey,” she says. 

6. Rethink how information is presented

Finding the right mix of how information is shared with your staff can be an integral part of avoiding information overload. After all, how an employee gets information is just as important as what information they get. That’s why communication tools should be audited on a regular basis – companies should always be looking for the right balance of tools, processes, and human interaction. 

It’s a delicate balance. Pre-shift team huddles, for instance, are great opportunities for employee engagement and feedback, and are an efficient way for managers to reinforce company values. Relying on them too much, however, can have its downsides as managers can easily get trapped in a communication cascade.

And as we already mentioned, keeping announcements short and bite-sized is a great way to boost info retention and engagement, but you’ll likely need to supplement those communications with a hub of longer resources that staff can access as needed. 

Information overload is a serious problem that needs to be tackled from multiple angles. Not sure if your workforce is at risk? Check out our recent post for signs of frontline information overload

The ROI of frontline workforce analytics

The ROI of frontline workforce analytics

Workforce analytics is one of those things that has been around for a long time, and is crucial for business growth and longevity – yet isn’t used as much as it should. 

A Deloitte survey found that 71% of companies consider workforce analytics to be a high organizational priority, and 31% even rate it as “highly important.” But actually executing on these analytics programs involves collecting, analyzing, and interpreting employee data, which can be intimidating for organizations – particularly deskless ones, where they’re looking to collect data from thousands of workers. There’s a lot involved, which admittedly makes it difficult to see the tangible benefits from such an endeavor. 

Part of the issue is that organizations often pigeonhole workforce analytics as a purely HR tool, used to inform recruitment and retention tactics. That’s just one component of a much wider spectrum of benefits that workforce analytics can provide to deskless organizations, particularly in the operations realm and other related areas of the business. In fact, this valuable data provides business-wide ROI that can’t be overlooked. 

In other words: it’s not just an HR play anymore. Here are 4 ways workforce analytics can drive better business outcomes across your entire organization. 

1. Workforce analytics allow you to make informed decisions to drive performance and productivity

Executives need information in order to make effective decisions. And when they don’t have that information, it can lead to worries and insecurity. That’s what The Predictive Index found in their recent report, where employee performance and productivity topped a poll of issues that kept executives up at night

This same report showed that only 55% of companies regularly diagnose their employee engagement data. Which means they just don’t have the data to drive performance at scale – and that creates uncertainty and stunts growth. 

Using workforce analytics allows you to answer the questions that can inform these crucial decisions around performance:

  • How confident are my teams in executing a program or promotion?
  • How consistent are locations in implementing SOPs and protocols? 
  • How reachable is my team in uncertain times?
  • How at-risk is my workforce for mass turnover?

These employee metrics give leaders the insights they need to take action more confidently and with greater effectiveness. From there, organizations can tweak policies, implement new processes, and identify worrisome locations or regions quickly and easily – in short, you can support your frontline at scale. 

2. Workforce analytics help you identify key knowledge gaps

Knowledge gaps that cause money loss and safety issues, particularly among frontline and deskless employees that are at greater risk due to less robust training, poor employee communication, and inconsistent processes (fun fact: ineffective on-the-job training can cost businesses up to $13.5 million per 1000 employees per year). 

Employees are starting from a more difficult position as well, with less than 40% of millennials and 30% of Gen Z workers feeling like they have the skills necessary to succeed. This makes effective training programs an even more crucial, albeit costly, investment. 

But with proper workforce analytics, companies can get far more strategic with their training. Through execution metrics, surveys, knowledge quizzes and other data, analytics can identify knowledge gaps, protocol confusion, and other red flags. From there, organizations can triage their training to address the most urgent needs, then fill out the rest of the program as resources become available. 

3. Workforce analytics can provide insights to mitigate disengagement to avoid turnover and productivity loss

Pop quiz: Do you know whether or not your employees are engaged?

If you answered “yes,” then the follow up question to that is: “how can you be sure?”

Fact of the matter is, only 16% of companies use technology to measure and track employee progress and engagement. Those who don’t rely on a combination of observation, anecdotal evidence, gut feel, and wishful thinking. 

This means that you don’t know for sure whether or not your frontline and deskless employees – the ones who are in the most stressful positions – are burnt out or not. And seeing as burnout is responsible for up to half of workforce turnover, this is definitely an area that organizations can’t ignore. 

Data from mental health surveys, feedback forums, and other communication channels can help you establish your workforce’s level of burnout and disengagement. Performance and engagement analytics can further inform the potential business impact of your situation. 

With these tools in place, you’ll have an early-warning system and be able to act accordingly with disengagement strikes. You’ll be able to take measures to address employee burnout and other critical turnover risks – before they turn into costly employee turnover. 

4. Workforce analytics identify the trends that lead to better business outcomes

Workforce analytics data goes far beyond the basic employee metrics – it has the potential to transform your organization. 

Here’s an example: data analysis might discover that one branch of a retail franchise has consistently better sales, higher employee engagement scores, and lower turnover. You might then discover that this branch’s manager has initiated a few new policies that have completely transformed the location. The organization scales these policies company-wide, and numbers across all branches show significant improvement. You would never have detected that outlier branch without looking at the data. 

This may seem like a somewhat extreme example, but it’s not that far-fetched. That’s the power of best practice-sharing, and analytics is the channel to capture these valuable ideas at scale. 

The key to all of this, though, is capitalizing on it. 

According to LinkedIn, only 29% of companies consider themselves good at capitalizing on workforce analytics insights, while 37% admit they do a poor job. 

Granted, analytics isn’t always easy. It is not a plug-and-play program. It requires time, effort, and forethought in order to set up and execute. But depending on the communication channels you have in place, it can be as simple as clicking on a dashboard to learn all sorts of valuable insights about your workforce – and your organization as a whole.

Signs your frontline workforce has information overload (and why it’s a problem)

Signs your frontline workforce has information overload (and why it’s a problem)

Have you ever walked into a children’s birthday party when it was in full swing? It’s like walking into an ocean of noise; kids screaming and laughing and crying (sometimes all at once), running around all over the place making it impossible for you to sort names or faces. 

Now imagine all of those noises are internal communications: long-winded company announcements, lengthy product advisories, information that is only relevant to a segment of the workforce, the same communication delivered on multiple platforms…you get the idea. How can anyone know what’s relevant and important to them when they’re all yelling for attention?

This, my friend, is information overload. And your frontline workforce is suffering from it. 

Let’s dive deeper into what information overload is, what causes it, and what it does to your frontline workforce. 

What is information overload?

Information overload happens when a person receives more information than they can effectively process. Making a decision or performing tasks while suffering from information overload becomes difficult and can impair judgment. It can even cause physical and mental harm if it goes on for too long (more on that later). 

The term “information overload” first appeared in the 1964 book, The Managing of Organizations by Bertram Gross. Since then, numerous other studies have validated his observations, and the concept has been further explored by psychiatrists all over the world. 

The most recent evolution of Bertram’s idea is the concept of “infobesity,” which is associated with the glut of digital information thrust upon modern employees. People were already suffering from information overload in the pre-internet days, so you can imagine how much worse it is now that information is so readily accessible online. 

Frontline employees are particularly prone to this, as they only have a limited time to consume company and product updates (which are all marked “important”) before having to focus on their actual tasks. 

What causes information overload?

In Information Overload: Causes, Symptoms, and Solution, Harvard researcher (and, for a brief stint, Performance Enhancement and Culture Director for Chik-Fil-A) Joseph Ruff attributed information overload to five primary factors:

  • Technology
  • People
  • Organizations
  • Processes and tasks
  • Information attributes

All of these factors have a tendency to overlap, which makes it hard for businesses to manage the flow of information. 

Technology

Ruff is very clear on technology’s impact on employees. “Technology plays a significant role in the cause of information overload. It not only helps to create content information, it also gives us access to vast amounts of it. Learning how to use this technology introduces still more information with which to contend.”

Technology is ubiquitous in everything we do, especially in frontline organizations. Sure, it can drive operational efficiency and consistency, and make it easy to communicate with staff at scale, but organizations need to be aware of the impact of these tools, and ensure they’re using them effectively. 

People

Frontline employees work in a team environment, and that means close communication. Team members have to exchange info all the time under pressure – all while servicing customers. 

Site supervisors try to help coordinate workers mid-shift and pass along vital information from corporate, but this often results in a communication cascade, where the manager turns into an information bottleneck.

Organizations

Companies need to keep employees abreast of significant changes, but they have a habit of blasting every little update to every single employee, whether it’s relevant or not. “When the change process is implemented well,” Ruff says, “the information load can be reduced; when handled poorly information load can escalate.”

In other words: frontline workers don’t have the time to sift through a dozen company updates to find the ones that are the most relevant to them, so they just ignore it all.

Processes and tasks

According to Ruff, “The more complex a task is, the greater the information load and the more time required to complete it.” 

Training can help reduce this load, and experience can turn the most complex task into a simple routine, but any change in the process immediately throws a wrench into the works.

Does the customer have a special order? The cashier needs to think about how to explain it to the cook, who has to break from the established routine to accommodate it. Did corporate introduce a new menu item? This slows everyone down as staff try to familiarize themselves with it while still maintaining the SLA for regular items.

Information attributes

This is the most devious information overload factor by far. Digesting new information is tough enough, but is the new information reliable? Does the site manager have a bad habit of misinterpreting the information they get from corporate? When a coworker explains how a new product works, do they get it right? 

The less certain employees are about the quality of the information, the more confused they get – and the worse they perform. 

What does information overload do to your frontline workforce?

Information overload is a serious issue that can have a significantly negative impact on your business and, more importantly, on the wellbeing of your employees. Here are a few of the information overload symptoms that frontline organizations might see:

Mental health issues

Being bombarded with information on a regular basis is not good for you. One study of managers in the UK, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore found that 42% attributed ill-health to information overload, and two out of three respondents associated information overload with tension with colleagues and loss of job satisfaction. Another Gallup study found that information overload is one of the major factors driving 76% of workers to be experiencing burnout at work. 

Why? According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, information overload increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline. These mental health issues are not to be taken lightly, as the effects will cascade to other areas.

Poor productivity

Frontline workers always have a lot of things to do, but never enough time to do it. Do you think they have time to read lengthy corporate memos? That’s a big “no.”

In fact, our recently-commissioned Total Economic Impact study, conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that store managers spent a whopping 1.5 hours a day reviewing and organizing information, and communicating it to frontline workers. That’s a lot of time in a retail environment – time that isn’t being spent assisting customers, managing staff, and maintaining smooth operations. 

Team cohesion and employee morale

Stress is never good for relationships – and especially in workplace relationships, where there’s high tension and constant pressure. 

We already talked about how information overload led respondents in one study to have increased tension with colleagues. This tension will lead to lower team morale and poor location performance, and may even trigger employee turnover. 

Safety concerns

According to Daniel Levitin, stress-induced brain fatigue can lead to “a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important.”

And what could be more important than workplace safety? Manufacturing facilities are a dangerous place, with a lot of heavy equipment and hazardous materials, and the slightest lapse in judgment can be lethal. And while the dangers in retail and foodservice roles are less pronounced, incidents can still turn ugly when people aren’t paying attention. 

Knowledge gaps

If a retail worker is so overwhelmed with information that he can’t digest anything, then what’s going to happen when a customer asks him a question?

Nothing, that’s what. 

The worker has no answer, the customer gets no info, and you make no sales. This consequence of information overload can hobble your workforce readiness, which may tank the performance any of the product launches you may be planning.

Information overload is a serious issue that, if left unchecked, can harm your frontline staff, increase turnover, and decrease customer satisfaction and profit.

How to implement a frontline employee referral program

How to implement a frontline employee referral program

With everyone experiencing serious staffing issues as a result of The Great Resignation, frontline organizations are desperately looking for ways to replace workers as quickly as possible – without wasting time and money on a revolving door of bad hires. 

Employee referrals can be an effective solution to this thorny issue. With the right program and tools in place, you can easily scale referrals up to be a core part of your organization’s frontline recruitment strategy. 

What are employee referrals?

An employee referral program is when an organization encourages its staff to recommend qualified job candidates to open roles at the company. Often paired with a reward program, it’s a way for organizations to source vetted job seekers and fast-track them through the hiring process. 

Referral candidates are often treated differently from regular candidates. The referred candidate’s resume may be flagged or fast-tracked through an applicant tracking system, for example, or their resume may bypass any formal application system and go straight to the hiring manager. 

But why would referrals get so much special treatment? Are they really so valuable a catch?

In a word, yes.

Why employee referrals are important

Building out an employee referral program is a great way for frontline organizations to fast-track hiring. Here are three reasons why:

1. Referred candidates get hired faster

Because of the ongoing wave of resignations, it’s critical for frontline organizations to hire fast in order to keep locations adequately staffed. Employee referrals are a great way to speed that process up. According to Jobvite, the average application-to-hire time for career sites and job boards is 45 days and 39 days, respectively. By comparison, referred candidates move through the process up to 55% faster, taking only 29 days from application to hire.

2. Referred employees stay longer

In a frontline environment, every role is vital to the location’s operations. You need team members who will stick around for the long haul. Employee referrals can fill that need. Jobvite found that 46% of referred hires stay with an employer for three years or more, compared to only 14% of hires sourced from job boards.

3. Employee referral programs are a morale booster

One hidden benefit of an employee referral program is that it positively affects existing frontline staff. Any kind of reward is going to positively impact employee engagement, which is something to consider when building out your program. But beyond that, employee referrals help existing employees to feel like their voice is heard, and they’ve made a positive contribution to the hiring process. 

Referrals also boost morale in a more indirect way. For an employee referral program to work effectively, you need to turn your existing staff into brand advocates. They need to be well-versed in your brand purpose, vision, employee perks…the list goes on. And boosting knowledge retention of this vital information has the added bonus of boosting employee morale and engagement. After all, The Deskless Report found that 55% of deskless workers feel that a sense of purpose at work makes them feel engaged and motivated. It’s win-win!

How to build a frontline employee referral program

Simply asking employees to find referrals isn’t going to get you very many results, especially if you have a large frontline force to fill out. You’re going to need to put together a formal referral program. 

Creating a frontline employee referral program is a bit different than a deskbound program, mostly because of the scale of workforce and speed of hires. Here are three things to keep in mind when starting to build out your program. 

1. Start with determining goals and outcomes

Before you dive too far into employee referrals, you first have to establish why one is needed in the first place. What long-term and short-term goals will the referral program fulfill? Are you hoping to hire faster? Improve the quality of hires? Fine-tuning these goals will help drive your program in the right direction. 

2. Choose how you’ll use to entice employees to refer

Incentives are a critical component of an employee referral program. These could be anything from a financial bonus to vacation days, gift certificates, or swag. If these aren’t possible, employee recognition is another incentive to consider. Acknowledging staff that go out of their way to bring in new talent might be enough to entice others to engage in your referral program. 

3. Map out your tools and policies

Now that you’ve established what you want to achieve with your program, it’s time to figure out the process driving it. In other words, what tools and policies will you need to run this program at scale? Consider the following questions:

  • How will employees submit referrals? 
  • What tool will HR use to track employee referrals?
  • How much information on the candidate should be submitted?
  • At what point will incentives be awarded to the referring employee?

Speaking of tools, did you know that Nudge has an employee referral tool baked right into the communication platform? The customizable “Refer a Friend” page lets employers share details on open roles and include a link to their careers page or ATS, so employees can share career opportunities through text, email, or link right from the app. 

Tips for running an effective frontline employee referral program

All employee referral programs are not created equal. Here are a few best practices to consider when building out your program to ensure it’s as effective as possible. 

Turn your employees into brand advocates

Your employees will have more success enticing candidates to apply if they know more about the company they’re recruiting for. Share information about your employer brand to your frontliners, and make sure they know all about things like your perks and your brand mission. 

Use simple and clear messaging

The more complex and burdensome an employee referral program is (or sounds like), the less likely employees will submit referrals. Keep the policies simple, and communicate them clearly to your frontline staff. Ensure that employees understand the process for submitting referrals, whether it’s an online form or submitting a resume directly to site management or HR. Clearly state what constitutes a “successful” referral hire, and what the associated incentives are. 

Make the program easy to use at scale

You’re going to be filling roles for dozens, maybe even hundreds of locations depending on the size of your company. So your referral program has to be easy to use at scale. This means clear and simple program mechanics, a communications infrastructure that can easily reach multiple locations and teams, and rewards that are enticing but not excessive. You should also have the procedures and manpower in place to be able to handle a large number of open jobs and job applications. Processing candidates as fast as possible (whether they are referrals or not) is key to getting frontline locations the help they need in a timely manner. 

Update your employees on a regular basis

Frontline organizations are always hiring, so it’s a good idea to remind employees of the employee referral program and that you have open positions available. Employees may be shy about referring their friends because they don’t think anything will come of it. So don’t forget to notify employees that a referral has been successfully hired, too! 

Referred employees can be the fastest to hire, last the longest, and bring the most value to your business. Referral programs and incentives do a terrific job of encouraging frontline employees to participate, but the truly effective method is making your workplace a positive environment; one that employees would be excited to share with their friends. Once you’ve got a solid employee experience in place, you can start building out an effective employee referral program to spread the word. 

Employer brand 101: how to use it to hire and retain frontline staff

Employer brand 101: how to use it to hire and retain frontline staff

The labor crisis rages on – and it’s hitting frontline organizations hard. 

Especially in foodservice and retail organizations, everyone’s looking for the answer. And while there’s no magic bullet that is guaranteed to help you hire and retain staff, there is one strategy that could be a big help: improving your employer brand. 

Employer brand gets discussed a lot in deskbound organizations (especially startups) but less so in frontline organizations. But make no mistake: it can play a huge role in sourcing, hiring, and retaining staff. 

What is an employer brand?

An employer brand is the public perception of how you hire, manage, and care for the people who work for you. It’s what a potential job candidate learns about you before applying. As employer brand author and speaker James Ellis puts it, “If you can name what you care about, line it up with what you reward, and then project that out to the world, you got yourself an employer brand.”

An employer brand is closely linked to your EVP, your employee value proposition, which essentially explains what workers could get by working with your organization. And it’s not just candidates and employees who see your employer brand; consumers see it, too. As do contractors, vendors, and even your competitors. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure you have a positive employer brand, which brings us to…

Why is employer branding important?

There are a number of reasons why a strong employer brand is important for frontline organizations – and it goes far beyond the labor crisis. Here are a few of the benefits of investing in your employer brand: 

It influences the quality of your candidates

As a frontline employer, you want to attract the best and brightest candidates to join your staff. As it happens, the feeling is mutual. Candidates also want to work for the best companies, and use your employer brand as a criteria. In fact, one study found that 92% of workers would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with a good reputation.

The reverse is also true. If you have a poor employer brand, you are literally driving away potential candidates. 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even for a pay increase.

It’s linked to employee loyalty

Your employer brand doesn’t just affect candidates or new hires; it also affects the employees you already have on staff. 

And why wouldn’t it? You want to be proud of where you work, and if your organization is perceived as being a bad one, then people will start walking out the door – especially during The Great Resignation. However, employees have a positive view of their employer, it will encourage them to stick around longer (and refer others to apply!).  

Companies actively investing in employer branding can reduce turnover by as much as 28%, which drastically reduces the need to go looking for new candidates. 

It impacts customer/brand perception

You need to take a good hard look at what employer brand you’re transmitting out to the world – intentional or not. You might think that your employer brand and your product brand are entirely separate things, but your customers do not. We’re seeing consumers take more of an interest in how organizations treat their staff

According to CareerArc, 64% of consumers have stopped purchasing a brand after hearing news of that company’s poor employee treatment. So mistreating employees is bad for business, both in a figurative and literal sense. 

What affects employer brand?

Your employer brand can be manipulated, altered, and affected by a multitude of factors. Some will be under your control, others not so much. 

Company branding 

Your company brand is a critical component of your employer brand – and you need to make sure they’re aligned. How does your company present itself as an employer? What’s your mission and brand purpose, and how are they communicated to the outside world? What is your philosophy around customer or guest experience? All these and more are part of your company brand.

Employee experience

Your employer brand exists whether you want it to or not – the recommendations we’re making are meant to ensure you’re fostering a positive brand. And a big part of a positive employer brand is offering your staff the employee experience that you’re proud to share. What is your onboarding program like? What support and training do you provide? What tools and tech does your staff have access to? What programs and initiatives can your staff access? All of this contributes to your employee experience – and, in turn, your employer brand.

Employee testimony

What your current and former employees say about your company is extremely important. Employees have developed a strong skepticism toward management, and will consider fellow employees’ words more credible than any message the brand puts out. This employee testimony can exist anywhere: on Glassdoor, Reddit, social media, and even word-of-mouth. 

Consider this: according to Glassdoor, 86% of job seekers will look at company reviews and ratings to decide on where to apply for a job. What your existing employees have to say plays a huge role in your ability to keep your locations staffed. 

Customer stories

Believe it or not, customers actually notice how you treat your employees. They can tell if an employee loves their job and takes pride in their workplace, because it shows in the quality of the service and the attitude of the employee. By the same token, it’s really easy to tell when an employee is unmotivated. 

So why should this matter? Because customers gossip.  One study found that 54% of respondents who had shared a bad experience said they shared it more than 5 times. Word will get around, it will affect how people perceive you.

Awards and certifications

An award from a respected organization can give your employer brand a major boost. It’s formal recognition that your business treats its employees well and makes you look better to potential candidates. 

Many award-giving bodies, like Great Place To Work, do so independently, meaning they take the proactive step of researching the companies on their list (including yours). They usually request interviews or survey entries from current employees, as well as investigate other things like your HR policies, facilities, and benefits. 

For example, when IKEA prioritized employee experience by promoting a flat hierarchy, a strong employee development program, and living wages, it received a Randstad Award and was honoured as the most sought-after workplace in Sweden. 

Being included on these is a pleasant surprise, but you don’t have to sit and wait for recognition. Some awards bodies accept applications and nominations. And be sure to put those award badges on your careers page!

How to improve your employer brand

Now that you know how important the employer brand is for remedying labor shortages for frontline organizations, let’s review how to actually build it up

Look at your core purpose

According to Hospitality Insights, the first step for frontline organizations looking start improving their employer brand is to look at their existing core mission:

“Small, purpose-led initiatives can help strengthen your brand. When relatively new to the concept of employer branding, a good place to start is by being inquisitive and reflective. The first step is to refocus on your company’s purpose and identity, and understand whether there is a shared purpose within your organization. Ask your current employees why they chose your company, what gets them out of bed every morning, what is the company’s purpose in their eyes?”

Making sure you have your purpose aligned is a great first step in communicating that purpose through your employer brand.  

Review your management culture

Onsite leadership is one of the biggest drivers of employee satisfaction. A great leader will inspire loyalty and boost store performance, while a bad one will create a toxic environment that pushes employees away. In fact, according to The Deskless Report, feedback about a manager is one of the top types of feedback frontline workers want to share with their organization. 

Upgrade your employee experience

Fact: frontline workers are coming to work for more than a paycheck. In fact, according to The Deskless Report, 49% of frontline workers said employee benefits and programs make them feel engaged and motivated at work – 38% feel the same about a sense of community at work, and 37% feel that way about recognition programs. 

In other words: workers appreciate employers that offer more than just a paycheck. Take fast casual restaurant chain Chipotle: they’ve managed to hire through the labor crisis by offering educational opportunities, mental healthcare programs, and performance-based employee bonuses. 

Use social media to engage candidates

Your company’s public persona shouldn’t just promote your products and services. It should also serve your employer brand. Use your social media platform to call attention to the positive things you do for your employees. Highlight frontliners who deliver exceptional performance. Use hashtags to participate in important societal and cultural discussions that concern your workers. 

For example, Starbucks has an Instagram account dedicated to their employer brand, which it uses to interact with potential candidates. They also leverage hashtags like #extrashotofgood and #tobeapartner https://clearhrconsulting.com/blog/hiring/starbucks-canada/ in conversations and answer candidate questions.

To attract the best candidates possible, you have to develop an employer brand that appeals to the kinds of workers you want on your team. 

But just as important is making sure that the employee experience actually matches the employer brand you present. Do it right, however, and your frontline workers will be so happy to work for you that they’ll be among the first to help source more candidates. More on that soon….