Frontline or ‘deskless’ workers, who form the backbone of many essential industries, are crucial to the smooth functioning of businesses. However, they face several challenges that threaten their well-being and productivity in the workplace. A recent report titled “Feedback from the Field” by SafetyCulture, a global technology firm, highlights these challenges and the importance of addressing them to improve health and safety in the workplace.
According to the report, frontline workers encounter several obstacles, including a lack of communication, inadequate training, and limited access to safety resources. This blog will discuss the findings and implications of this report.
The Frontline Workforce
Frontline workers are an indispensable part of industries including construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality. However, research indicates that these individuals frequently encounter operational issues, with a majority of respondents (65%) stating that they observe such issues on a monthly or more frequent basis. This situation is further compounded by the fact that less than half (45%) of these workers see these issues addressed within the expected timeframe, which can create an environment where problems persist and potentially worsen.
The impact of these operational issues extends beyond the immediate workplace challenges, with the report revealing that approximately 9 in 10 (87%) frontline workers believe that the businesses they work for are not operating at their full potential or are unsure about their overall performance. This data suggests that operational challenges are not just isolated incidents, but can have a broader impact on business success.
Barriers to Success
The research identified several obstacles that prevent frontline workers from reaching their full potential and improving overall health and safety in the workplace. Of these, ineffective management was cited by 42% of frontline workers as a significant impediment to achieving operational excellence. Additionally, inadequate communication (39%) and a lack of staff training (31%) were found to be prevalent issues. It is noteworthy that 30% of respondents reported receiving valuable training from their organisation a year ago or more, and shockingly, 13% of frontline workers claimed they had never received any valuable training from their employers.
This lack of training has a considerable impact, with more than half (54%) of the surveyed workers believing that workplace injuries could have been prevented with better training and clearer work instructions. Given the paramount importance of safety, these findings underscore the significance of investing in employee training and development.
Despite these challenges, the study demonstrates a reassuring commitment to safety among frontline workers. Even amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, a remarkable 70% of respondents affirmed that they would prioritise their safety over higher salaries if they were to seek alternative employment. This unwavering dedication to safety underscores the crucial role that health and safety practices play in the lives of these employees.
Empowering Frontline Workers
The study revealed a significant finding that frontline workers possess a belief that internal sources are the most reliable means of generating ideas for improvement (55%), rather than the leadership (19%). Nevertheless, the study also highlights a grave concern, as almost one-third of the workers (31%) feel that their superiors do not promote operational enhancements.
Businesses can benefit from this discovery by leveraging the knowledge and skills of their frontline workers. Enabling employees with a platform to share their ideas and grievances can lead to more effective problem-solving and a better work environment overall. Clearly, including these individuals in the improvement process can lead to more efficient operations and a healthier, safer workplace.
The challenges faced by frontline workers have been recognised as an important issue that needs to be addressed. In response, SafetyCulture, a well-known company for its widely-used checklist app called iAuditor, has expanded its all-in-one mobile-first workplace operations platform. This expansion goes beyond inspections and includes a range of new features, such as tools for training and asset management.
The digitisation of paper-based forms through photos and the conversion of work instructions and equipment manuals is one of the most innovative aspects of this platform. This feature enables employees to access training materials on the go and results in a more agile and responsive workforce. The integration of AI into the platform also allows for the creation of custom training and inspection templates in a matter of minutes.
SafetyCulture’s initiative showcases how technology can empower frontline workers, streamline operations, and improve health and safety. Their approach aligns with research findings that emphasise the importance of investing in the well-being and development of these employees. Through their platform, SafetyCulture has demonstrated the potential for technology to address the challenges faced by frontline workers and improve the overall efficiency of operations in the workplace.
A Real-World Example: Mobile Mini
Mobile Mini, the leading UK-wide provider of site accommodation and secure storage solutions, has implemented a proactive approach to enhancing health and safety in the workplace. The company has realised the significance of addressing operational challenges to ensure the well-being of its employees and overall success of the business.
Andy Himsworth, SHEQ Advisor and Trainer at Mobile Mini, emphasises the importance of continuous improvement in health and safety. The company has shifted from using outdated, paper-based health and safety checks to a modern digital approach. The team at Mobile Mini can now complete checks on mobile devices, capturing photographs to provide a comprehensive context for hazards, near-misses, or other concerns on the ground. This digital transformation has resulted in more robust and efficient audits, directly leading to a reduction in accidents.
The SafetyCulture research highlights the need for businesses to prioritise safety and operational improvements to create a safer and more efficient work environment for frontline workers. By investing in their training, empowering them to contribute insights, and leveraging technology to streamline operations, businesses can create a more secure and productive workplace. The unwavering commitment to safety demonstrated by frontline workers is a positive sign for businesses as they strive to enhance the well-being and performance of their employees.