Rippl Book a demo Demo


Insights & Articles

Posted on 31 January 2024

From the Frontline: Connecting and Engaging Deskless Employees

5 minute read

Despite representing 80% of the global workforce, latest data demonstrates frontline or deskless employees to be an overlooked and unheard majority. So, what does the current landscape look like for those on the frontline? And where are businesses going wrong in connecting and engaging their deskless teams?

Meet Harry. Part of a popular food chain in central London, his role as a frontline employee in the hospitality industry is dynamic and demanding.

Daily hustle or daily disconnect?

Harry’s days are filled with constant customer interaction. But whilst he’s dedicated to providing a top-notch service, he often feels disconnected from the wider company culture. The values may be on a poster in the staff room, but he wonders what they really mean in day-to-day role as a restaurant worker.

This is a common sentiment among retail and restaurant workers, who represent the face of their business but feel isolated from it’s core mission and purpose.

Bridging the communication gap

Like many in frontline or deskless roles, Harry experiences a communication gap with the corporate leadership. The limited contact with management and the wider company network makes it challenging to feel a part of the company’s culture and vision.

Daily team briefings at the start of each shift ensure key messages are passed down to Harry’s team, but if any colleagues are late to shift or the manager isn’t in one day, the team goes without an update from the business.

This presents not just a logistical gap but a human disconnect, affecting how valued Harry feels in his role and the business.

Overcoming hierarchical hurdles

But, Harry is not alone. With friends working in industries with strict hierarchical structures, such as manufacturing or distribution, Harry sees a similar trend. His peers have limited opportunities to provide feedback or share their ideas with managers, leading them to feel undervalued and overlooked in their expertise.

Yet, those on the frontline have a strong and holistic understanding of the business, its product and its customers. Harry knows what’s working well and the areas that require improvement. He has new ideas for seasonal menu items, how to create a more seamless payment process and the growing customer appetite for a new takeaway service.

But with no communication opportunity to share his ideas and feedback with head office, Harry’s intel goes unnoticed and underappreciated.

Top-down approach to engagement and communication exacerbates the disconnect between company decision makers and those leading its mission in frontline roles.

The role of digital engagement platforms

Harry believes that open, two-way engagement opportunities could be transformative to these challenges. He needs a safe, digital space which allows for the sharing of company updates and news whilst enabling input from all areas of the business – including frontline workers like him.

This approach can bridge the gap created by traditional top-down communication methods, fostering a community that better connects and empowers all employees, from the frontline to leadership.


Addressing emotional needs

Harry knows emotion plays a significant role in his job satisfaction. He often feels burnt out from the what’s required of him and feels undervalued when he steps up to cover extra shifts or stays late to get the job done. He questions: “Should I stay in this job or should I start looking for other opportunities with better perks, pay and work-life balance?”.

Research shows a significant percentage of deskless employees, particularly younger generations, are at risk of burnout at work. Recognising and addressing employees’ emotional needs is key in retaining frontline teams, ensuring they feel seen, heard and valued for their vital contributions to the business.

The impact of poor engagement

Harry’s experience in both retail and hospitality roles has seen poor engagement lead to quick turnover of staff. This means each time a new team member joins, he’s slowed down in balancing his role with showing them the ropes. In the restaurant, this results in a knock-on impact on the level of customer service he’s able to offer.

High turnover is a common issue for industries with a majority frontline workforce, directly impacting team culture, productivity and the company’s bottom line.

Boosting retention on the frontline

  • Streamlining communication: Implementing user-friendly portals and mobile apps keep teams informed and connected to the business’ purpose and culture.
  • Offering tailored perks and benefits: Providing benefits that resonate with the lifestyles of frontline workers significantly boost morale, engagement and desire to stay in the job.
  • Recognising and rewarding efforts: Modern recognition and reward systems make employees feel valued and appreciated in the moment, not months later.
  • Collecting ongoing feedback: Regular surveys and feedback tools provide communication loops that boost innovation and engagement, ensuring frontline employees have an active voice in contributing to ideas and improvements.
  • Reinforcing company mission: Clear and consistent communication of company values and its mission help frontline workers understand and contextualise their role in the bigger picture, without relying on managers to cascade information.

Ready to start looking at enhancing the employee experience for your deskless workforce? Chat to us to discover how Rippl engages, connects and motivates deskless and disconnected teams.

Posted by
Sam Harris
Sales & Marketing Director