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Axonify Releases Annual Global State of Frontline Work Experience Study

Posted on: October 14, 2021

What’s Driving The Great Resignation: Nearly Half of Frontline Workers Plan to Leave Their Current Jobs Citing Burnout Over Compensation as the Top Reason for Resigning

October 14, 2021 — WATERLOO, ONTARIO —  Axonify, a leader in frontline employee training, today announced results from its annual Global State of Frontline Work Experience Study conducted in July/August 2021 by global market research firm Arlington Research. Highlighting the drivers of the Great Resignation for frontline workers, this year’s survey revealed that nearly 50 percent of frontline workers are preparing to leave their current jobs citing burnout as the top reason (58%).

Conducted in the US, UK and Australia, the survey engaged over 2,500 frontline employees from a range of industries including retail, grocery, finance, banking, insurance and professional sales to learn more about the experience of working on the frontlines through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone is talking about the future of work, but too many of these conversations focus solely on the corporate employee experience and don’t consider the frontline. The time has come to rethink the frontline work experience,” said Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify. “What many companies fail to realize is that frontline workers are the face of their brand. We need to emphasize the importance of this group’s experience to ensure they are supported and provided with equitable opportunities so they can advance their careers – and serve as brand ambassadors.”

The key takeaways from the report include:

More Pay Doesn’t Justify Poor Conditions

While many frontline employees report pay as a motivator to stay at a company (49%), compensation doesn’t even make the top three resignation factors. Frontline workers aren’t just looking for better pay, they’re looking for better conditions when they are overworked and burned out.

  • Almost half of frontline employees reported they’re planning to leave their current jobs, with Gen Z most eager to leave (63%).
  • When frontline employees were asked why they’re planning to resign, over half of respondents cited feeling burned out at work (58%), followed by a lack of appreciation from management and/or peers (53%), and a lack of interest in daily work (52%), with poor compensation (52%) coming in fourth.
  • When looking at the different industries, retail workers reported burnout (63%) as being a more important motivating factor for resigning compared to compensation (50%).

How can employers prevent frontline employees from jumping ship? Compensation matters, but employees say they also want more flexible scheduling (44.2%), more appreciation (42.6%) and more positive relationships at work (42%).

Room for Improvement Regarding Equity on the Frontlines

While an increased spotlight on social justice has motivated organizations to rethink their approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), the report shows employers still have a long way to go. Based on the 2021 findings, three key areas of equity disparity on the frontline emerged: gender, work location and job status.

Gender: There is a clear gender gap in the frontline work experience.

  • Men reported higher satisfaction with their compensation (70%) compared to women (60%).
  • Male employees reported greater satisfaction on issues like manager trust (72% vs 62%), pandemic support (78% vs 70%) and career development (69% vs 59%).

Frontline vs. Corporate: The data also revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded the existing disparity gap between corporate and frontline workers.

  • Office workers were much more satisfied (86%) with their support as compared to store/branch employees (67%).
  • Similarly, more than 8 out of ten office workers were happy with everyday work (81%), but less than two-thirds of store/branch employees felt the same (64%).

Job Status: Full-time employees reported higher job satisfaction compared to part-time workers.

  • Just a little less than two-thirds of part-time workers (vs 80% of full time workers) were satisfied with the support provided by their employers during the pandemic.
  • Half of part-time workers trust their manager to consider employee wellbeing when making decisions vs.72% for full-time workers

Added Leaman, “Fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace shouldn’t even be a question. Every single person deserves the opportunity to do and be their best at work. And not only is it the right thing to do, but focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is also a strong business strategy. Yet, employers with frontline employees still have considerable room for improvement in this area.”

Frontline Workers Crave Career and Skill Development Opportunities

Although billed as a corporate imperative, frontline training tends to take a backseat due to access and turnover. Retail associates, grocery workers, contact center agents and delivery drivers are difficult to reach with traditional courses and training programs. And heavy turnover in frontline roles often makes training less of a priority. Based on this year’s findings, internal skill development remains inconsistent but is in demand.

  • Over one third of employees say they only receive training during big job changes like transfers and promotions (36%) and nearly one-quarter reported rarely or never receiving additional training (20%).
  • When employees were asked about access to skill development, less than half indicated having access to developing their career advancement skills like management and leadership even though more than one-third had requested it.
  • Training and skills development is even bleaker in retail and grocery with only half of retail workers and less than two-thirds of grocery workers getting the opportunity to take on new responsibilities and advance their careers.

Training can be a motivator to help combat burnout. When frontline employees were asked what would motivate them to stay at a company, one third said more career advancement opportunities (34%) and access to more training and skill development (32%).

Study Methodology
Findings from the 2021 Global State of Frontline Work Experience Study were derived from a survey conducted by Arlington Research gathered between July 22, 2021 and August 2, 2021, surveying 2,564 respondents from the USA, UK, and Australia. At the time of the survey, respondents held frontline roles in grocery, retail, finance, banking, insurance or professional sales for companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Download the full report here.

About Axonify
Axonify is the modern training and communications solution for frontline employees that actually works. Why does it work so well? Because the experience is fun, fast, personalized and designed to make critical information stick. And employees love it—83% of users log in 2-3 times a week, which translates into meaningful behavior change that drives business results. More than 200 customers in 155+ countries around the world, including Walmart, Bloomingdale’s, Levi’s and Merck, trust Axonify to fuel their people’s performance to keep pace with their business. Founded in 2011, Axonify is headquartered in Waterloo, ON Canada. For more information, please visit

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Media Contact:
Jennifer Qotb
Young & Associates for Axonify