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Putting Your Frontline Employees First

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It's time to reassess the talent development opportunities you offer frontline employees.

America has a labor shortage. Companies of all sizes and industries across the nation struggle to fill open positions. In fact, "the latest data shows that we have over 10 million job openings in the U.S. — but only around 6 million unemployed workers."

The situation is complex, and there are many causes and possible solutions. For instance, providing decent childcare and flexible hours are two tactics often promoted.

A less talked about solution is the role frontline employees have to play. A recent McKinsey & Company survey reveals that "frontline employees are ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder" with 70% of the 2,100 frontline employees surveyed having "applied to career advancement opportunities either with their current employers or with different companies."

The problem lies in the disconnect between the ambitions of frontline employees and the talent development opportunities provided by their employers. The study shows that while a large majority of frontline employees want to advance, many of them simply "aren’t getting the right resources or support to advance their careers."

Continue reading to learn more about this informative study, how you can put your frontline employees first, and why it can make a big difference in your healthcare organization's success.

Who are we talking about?

The McKinsey & Company survey defines "frontline employees as hourly workers, primarily individual contributors, making less than $22 per hour across select industries" such as "retail store associates, nursing aides, customer service representatives, administrative assistants, housekeeping staff, and many similar jobs."

What do they want?

Job growth, better pay, and increased learning opportunities came in as the top three career advancement needs for frontline employees.

Yet, "of those who apply for advancement opportunities, only 40% achieve the raise or incremental responsibility, and less than 25% get a promotion or new role."

Additionally, a full "65% [of surveyed frontline employees] are unaware or unsure of how to achieve advancement — and the number is even higher among women, younger employees, and those without a high school degree."

What can you do?

Help frontline employees overcome barriers to career advancement with targeted and well-communicated talent development opportunities.

This should include talent development opportunities connected to hard skills frontline employees need to master, or at least be introduced to, in order to advance within the company. You also should include talent development programming that focuses on the soft skills frontline employees need to develop to advance their careers. For instance, communication, conflict navigation, and emotional intelligence training would better prepare them for managerial roles.

How will this help?

McKinsey & Company state that "by addressing what matters to their frontline workforce, employers can harness the untapped potential of a large and motivated talent pool — an urgent priority amid labor shortages and challenges in attracting and retaining talent. And when employers do more and do better to support the advancement of frontline employees, they create opportunities for their employees to meaningfully improve their lives and livelihoods."

This is a win-win. Employers can better retain talent and organizational knowledge by developing and promoting from within. This can have a ripple effect and lead to better talent recruitment as well. Employees get the advancement opportunities previously unavailable to them, leading to the potential for better financial security, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.

Put your frontline employees first to truly enhance your organization

Don't overlook the talent pool you already have. It's time to reassess the talent development opportunities you offer frontline employees.

You likely have a frontline employee bursting with leadership potential. They're just not on your radar because they don't meet a certain requirement on paper.

Skills and work ethic can prove much more beneficial to your company's success than credentials alone. Isn't being able to do a job the most important part of doing a job? It's past time it should be.