5 lightbulb moments on supercharging the frontline employee experience from AxoniCom LIVE 2021
What can you do to attract and retain the best frontline talent? And how do you keep delivering an experience at work that makes them feel supported, growing and well taken care of? It’s a challenge no frontline leader can afford to ignore as ongoing labor shortages threaten to hurt business, customers and employees. So, we decided to tackle it head on.
We invited seasoned frontline experts and industry pros to our action-packed virtual conference, AxoniCom LIVE 2021, to deliver their best tips, tricks and tried-and-true solutions for supercharging your frontline employee experience. It was a day full of big ideas and real talk about how to attract the best frontline people, boost their engagement and keep them longer.
If you missed the conference, don’t worry. Here are the top five things you’ll be able to do after tuning into the sessions.
1. Reconnect to your “why”
“By doing what you love, you actually inspire other people to do what they love and that ripple effect goes far beyond what you’ll ever know.” – Ben Nemtin
As co-founder of The Buried Life movement, Ben Nemtin has travelled the world helping people spark their passions and uncover their buried dreams. But before launching his journey, the #1 New York Times bestselling author was battling crippling depression that kept him from doing the things that truly mattered.
At AxoniCom LIVE 2021, he shared his inspiring journey to take charge of his life and cross monumental stuff off his bucket list, from meeting Oprah to having beers with Prince Harry to playing basketball with President Obama. The most surprising thing he discovered? The more he achieved his dreams, the better equipped he was to help others do the same. Ben says it’s a philosophy that frontline organizations can use to tackle some of their biggest challenges. With mental health issues on the rise, the best thing frontline leaders can do is put on their own oxygen mask first. When you prioritize your happiness and well-being—and encourage your teams to do the same—you’re more energized and more present for each other.
2. Tackle burnout at an organizational level
“Who’s going to disrupt the way that we actually care about mental health at work, in a real, authentic and sustainable way? Those are the ones that are going to make sure they’re competitive and the others will become obsolete.” – Jennifer Moss
The mass exodus from frontline roles reached record-high numbers this year—and burnout is at the top of employees’ reasons for leaving. Jennifer Moss, award-winning journalist and burnout expert, joined Axonify CEO Carol Leaman to discuss the problem, share findings from her recently published book, The Burnout Epidemic, and talk about what frontline organizations can do to take better care of their people.
Burnout is driven by big, macro issues like heavy workloads, a lack of agency, inequity, loneliness and conflicting values. Unfortunately, Jennifer says, too many organizations deal with the problem by implementing downstream solutions, such as yoga classes or extra vacation, that unfairly place the burden of fixing burnout on individual employees. To see real change, frontline leaders need to address burnout as a complex, systemic problem.
3. Introduce flexibility into inflexible jobs
“We’re ignoring the people that do the majority of the work that gets done… This is the chance to say, how can we restructure some of these things and break some of those preconceived notions to enable a more successful, more productive and more capable workforce?” – Ben Eubanks
You’ve probably seen the headlines dominating conversations about the future of work. For the most part, they focus on corporate employees and completely overlook about 80% of the global workforce: frontline employees. Ben Eubanks, Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, believes it’s time for that to change. He sat down with JD Dillon, Axonify’s Chief Learning Architect, to discuss the role of flexibility in attracting and retaining frontline workers.
Ben says flexibility looks a lot different on the frontline than it does in the back office. Ultimately, whether it’s giving people more decision-making autonomy or control over their scheduling, “flexibility is what your people define it as.” Actively listening to what they want could be the difference between a painful labor shortage and a productive, thriving workforce. Ben and JD share examples of companies that think outside the box when it comes to frontline flexibility—and improve worker autonomy, engagement and happiness in the process.
4. Help your people feel part of something bigger
“How do you get employees to want to come to work for you as an organization, especially in today’s tough hiring environment? People want to belong to something bigger and they want to work for a place where they feel valued, where they can achieve their personal goals as well.” – Kathy Reardon
For many of us, a job is more than a paycheque. It’s also a big part of our identities. Kathy Reardon, EVP and Chief People Officer at Dollar General, says her organization has never lost sight of how it fits into people’s lives. And that translates to a unique philosophy of employee inclusion and development that fuels the company’s growth. Kathy joined AxoniCom LIVE, in conversation with Axonify Co-founder and CRO Christine Tutssel, to chat about the retailer’s unique employment value proposition.
With over 157,000 employees in nearly 18,000 stores across 46 states, Dollar General has a unique opportunity to impact communities across the U.S. Following the mantra “use the work to develop the person while having fun,” the retailer gives workers ongoing training, development and engagement that helps them feel valued and supported. The approach has helped people get their college credits, accelerate their learning and climb from the frontline to the c-suite.
To see even more examples of companies that are going above and beyond to support their frontline people, check out the winners of this year’s BFF (Best Frontline Friend) Awards.
5. Drive a standout culture where everyone feels accepted
“Ultimately it’s in an organization’s best interest when they can increase the diversity of their workforce and by increasing the diversity of their workforce, they’re increasing diversity of thought within their workforce for greater innovation and growth.” – Natasha Kassim
One of the most important themes we heard repeated at AxoniCom LIVE was the importance of belonging on the frontlines. Natasha Kassim, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at RBC Financial Group, and Dave D’Oyen, diversity and inclusion expert, joined us to chat about how companies can create cultures and workplaces where employees feel included.
Natasha says the current labor shortage is the perfect opportunity for frontline employers to rethink their recruitment and hiring processes to identify and eliminate unconscious bias and bring more qualified, diverse candidates to the table. Within the day-to-day work experience, leaders also need to reflect on how they’re creating safe spaces for employees to share their lived experiences. That starts with making sure managers have anti-racism training and skills development to help them tackle discrimination in the workplace.
Frontline challenges aren’t going anywhere, but our thought-provoking panelists and speakers offered help to turn them into opportunities for frontline resilience and success.