They hold our brand, reputation, and safety in their hands. But are we giving our frontline staff the tools and support they need to do their best work, every day?
2020 was the year the public rallied behind our frontline workers. From Clap for Carers to fundraising initiatives, we recognised and celebrated those committed to keeping critical services and resources flowing at the height of lockdown.
However, despite their value and critical role, our frontline workers are still woefully underserved when it comes to technology. They make up 80% of our workforce, but just 1% of available venture capital funding has been invested in developing solutions that serve our frontlines.
At the height of the pandemic, this gap exposed many organisations to risk and weakened resilience at a time when we needed it most. Unable to get a full picture of what was happening on the shop floor or out in the field, leaders have never felt that vulnerability more acutely.
The vaccine rollout signifies a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we can’t let those learnings go to waste: to weather 2021 (and beyond), it’s time to empower our frontlines, properly.
Adapt fast – or disappear
COVID taught us the value of being adaptive in the face of the unexpected. Those who could pivot fast and respond to (near-daily) changes were best-placed to ride the waves of the pandemic.
We saw every creative response imaginable: popup food vans partnering pubs, contactless shopping, chef home-dining experiences, Zoom wine-tasting and fitness classes. It tested our resilience and dramatically reduced innovation cycles – because we had no choice.
(The ability to adapt to takeaway-only models of working enabled many organisations to continue operating even during tiered lockdown restrictions.)
Building adaptable business models so we can change as quickly as our environments is clearly crucial to operational success. We don’t know what the next COVID19 will be, but the ability to push innovation through at pace will mean we’re better prepared to weather it.
But how do we make adaptation a core business strategy? And what does it have to do with our frontline workers?
The most powerful data source in our organisations – our employees
Our frontline workers are our first responders. They’re our eyes and ears on the ground; the ones at the actionable point of risk. They’re the guardians of our brand and the executors of our customer service.
They’re also our richest data point and pivotal to driving any organisational change. To be truly adaptive, we have to make data-driven decisions: and move away from being reactive, to actually anticipating and predicting risk or change.
To do that, we have to see what our frontline workers are seeing, every day. And turn that data into something we understand and can act on: surfacing insights that can reduce risk, build organisational resilience, and inform our decision-making.
Our staff can identify issues before they escalate into full-blown incidents; and surface data that feeds into a bigger picture of how our organisations are truly operating. Maybe an empty sanitiser dispenser, missed safety check or a dip in output doesn’t mean much in isolation. But when that’s a repeat issue on a particular site during certain hours and there’s someone accountable – that’s a vulnerability we can address.
Despite this, many still battle to be heard via excel spreadsheets, outdated or dispersed systems, or even traditional ‘paper and pen’ reporting that is never seen higher up. Every operations leader should be asking: do I REALLY know what happened in my organisation today?
Supporting businesses to do their best work, every day
SafetyCulture is setting out to address that challenge. Its mobile-first technologies drive accountability cultures, create high-performing workplaces and surface real insights for those at management level.
It’s flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp, enable teams to perform checks, train staff, report issues, capture data and communicate fluidly. Sensors automate data capture and free up valuable staff time. All that data then flows through the organisation, with integrations creating a digital operations ecosystem. Now, leaders really can see what’s happening at grassroots level: in real time.
The demands on our workforces have never been higher. In the shadow of COVID19 we face economic uncertainty, time pressures, competing priorities, and a demand for greater efficiency. Businesses are under pressure to meet sustainability and environmental initiatives and deliver an outstanding customer experience at every stage – and that’s before we add in the challenges of Brexit.
Equipping frontline workers with the right tools directly on their mobile devices is a simple but effective way to drive change and rise to those challenges in front of us – and it’s a trend we’ll see taking off in the next twelve months.
Interested in seeing how SafetyCulture can support your organisation with its operational objectives for 2021 and beyond? As a BFFF partner, SafetyCulture is working closely with the association to create tailored checklists and materials for your sector: available free to BFFF members. Visit https://safetyculture.com/british-frozen-food-federation/ to learn more and get started.