5 ways we can all support the frontline

We typically look at frontline training and support from an organizational perspective. We share stories and proven practices for how companies can tackle common challenges like compliance, onboarding, reskilling and technology. Axonify exists to help you give frontline employees the support and tools they need to do their best work every day. Because when they have what they need to succeed, your organization will too. 

But the frontline is “frontline” because they interact with the public every day. They serve us meals. They answer our phone calls. They deliver our groceries. We (consumers) spend more time with them than their managers. It’s up to us to help them do their best work, too.

Here are 5 things we can all do right now to help the frontline stay safe and productive at work.

#5: Wear the mask

It’s the simplest thing we can do. When we go to a retail store, wear the mask. When we answer the door for a service technician, wear the mask. When we pick up our food orders, wear the mask. It’s not about beliefs or regulations. It’s not just for us. It’s for them. They have to do it to keep us safe. We need to do the same for them. 

#4: Pay attention

Daily life has changed. We have to adapt our behaviors to help everyone deal with the new normal. We have to pay attention when we’re in public and look for changes in how we’re expected to interact. In January, we could enter the grocery store through either door and walk down any aisle we wanted. Now, we have to look for signs telling us which door is the entrance/exit and if customer flow is designed to move in a specific direction. We have to make the effort to break long-standing habits and adjust the way we move through life, at least for now.

#3: Show empathy

The grocery clerk didn’t create COVID-19. The retail associate didn’t decide to institute a mask rule. The contact center agent is balancing work and family at home every day, just like us. This year has been extremely hard for everyone. We’re living through a global health crisis. We’re witness to continued social injustice. Frustration, disappointment, anger, sadness. We’re all human. But, there’s no excuse for taking it out on the people who are just trying to do their jobs (while risking their own safety). Before you go into a store or restaurant, stop and think about what those frontline workers face every day. If you’ve ever worked on the frontline, you know how it can feel. They were our heroes in April. They are still our heroes in September. And they will be our heroes as long as we need them to be. 

#2: Come back

Show your support with how you buy. Many businesses are struggling to keep the doors open. Their frontline employees rely on the limited hours available to support their families. If you have a great service experience, consider returning to that business the next time, even if it’s not the most convenient option. Try out new delivery or curbside pickup options from stores you previously shopped at in person. Be generous when someone does a good job and relies on tips for the bulk of their income. People always say that the best way to influence business change is to “vote with our wallets.” Now, we can use the same approach to support the frontline. 

#1: Say thanks

A simple “thank you.” That’s it. Small gestures mattered before the pandemic. They’re especially important now. Remember—frontline workers are dealing with the same health and social concerns we’re all facing. And, they’re risking their safety every time they clock in for work. People can tell if we’re smiling even when we wear a mask. They can see it in our eyes and hear it in our voice. If you want to go beyond the basic “thank you” consider placing a sign in your window that’s visible to your delivery drivers, landscapers and postal workers. 

Frontline workers need continued communication and training from their companies so they can do their best work in the most challenging of circumstances. But we all play a role in supporting the frontline day-to-day. The more conscientious we are in our frontline interactions, the more they can focus on doing their jobs as safely and productively as possible. 

 

The frontline is there for us. Let’s be there for them.

 

Thank you for being kind to the frontline.

JD is one of the most prolific authors and speakers in workplace learning today. His practical approach integrates science, technology, storytelling and pure common sense to enable employees, improve performance and drive business results. For 20 years, JD has executed strategies for global organizations, including The Walt Disney Company.

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