Workplace pre-announces WhatsApp alliance as Great Resignation looms

Workplace from Meta released Deskless not Voiceless: The 2021 Frontline Barometer, revealing almost half (43%) of Australian frontline workers are planning to find roles with better perks and growth in 2022 or move out of the frontline workforce entirely (46%).

Against the backdrop of The Great Frontline Resignation, the research highlights the need for businesses to build a more connected employee experience for this vital workforce with just over half (61%) feeling connected to their company headquarters.

Workplace is to be released in 2022

To help businesses better connect their frontline staff and empower them with information, Workplace is pre-announcing an integration with WhatsApp.

Expected to be available in 2022, this will help organisations ensure that important updates from Workplace can be shared directly with employees over WhatsApp.

This will enable frontline workers to feel more bonded with their leadership team, helping boost retention of this essential employee segment.

Christine Trodella, global director at Workplace from Meta, said: “We’re at a critical juncture of the employer-frontline relationship and the Great Frontline Resignation is a real threat.”

“While it’s clear from this year’s report that business leaders recognise the fundamental role frontline workers play in their organisations, actions speak louder than words.”

“Now is the time for leadership to listen, learn, and more importantly, take action to build a workforce that is inclusive of the workers who brought them through the pandemic.”

With frontline workers strongly re-examining their current roles and employers, findings from this third edition of Deskless not Voiceless reveal an important insight: there is a misalignment between C-suite priorities for 2022 and frontline’s needs.

The Barometer also provides actionable guidance on how to ensure frontline retention, given that only 41% of respondents expect to be with the same employer beyond the new year.

Workplace’s survey key findings include:

The frontline investment gap

Frontline workers are looking for alternative roles for multiple overlapping reasons, but worryingly, it’s clear that the C-suite is not planning to address many of them.

For instance, 55% of frontline workers say they will move for a better salary, yet only 25% of C-suite workers are planning to increase their investment into wages.

Similarly, despite more than half of frontline workers planning to move to other roles for more training (54%), only 26% of the C-suite plan to increase investment in training.

In fact one in six (16%) plan to decrease investment in this area in the coming year.

Addressing office bias

The survey revealed that 85% of the C-suite say they started to value their frontline workers more than they did prior to the pandemic, but more than half of frontline employees (56%) still believe they are seen as less important than their HQ counterparts.

Furthermore, over half of frontline employees feel that HQ workers get: better perks and benefits (52%); and better technology tools to manage their day-to-day work (47%).

Providing mental health support

68% of frontline workers either suffered from, or felt at risk of burnout over a 12-month period starting from September 2020. In addition, nearly two-thirds (66%) believe that their employers should prioritize additional tools to help them manage their mental health.

However, less than half (48%) of C-suite leaders say that supporting frontline workers’ mental health needs is one of their top three priorities in 2022.

Connecting the frontline with HQ

The survey also revealed that 83% of frontline workers believe that access to communication technology should be standard, with 57% saying they plan to move to another frontline role for better tools and technology that support their day-to-day work.

Almost all of the leaders (92%) surveyed say they need to start prioritising frontline tech in the way they have historically prioritised office and desk-based technology.

Ujjwal Singh, Workplace’s Head of Product, made the following remarks on the survey.

“At Workplace, we strongly believe that the most successful organisations empower their frontline employees to make a difference and listen to their ideas. So it’s disappointing to see there’s still a clear disconnect between frontline and HQ workers.”

“Our integration with WhatsApp is designed to fix that: Help bring frontline employees closer to their organizations and ensuring the information needed for their jobs is at their fingertips.”

Will Easton, Managing Director, Meta Australia & New Zealand, gave these further remarks.

“Almost every Australian community is grappling with the Omicron surge and its flow-on effects right now but none are closer to this than frontline workers.”

“Our role is to develop and deliver tools like Workplace that help everyone feel connected, from the C-suite at head offices, through to staff and teams on the frontline.”

“We’re proud to support business leaders to connect with what’s happening on the ground, so they can meet challenges in real-time and create positive employee experiences.”

Allisa O’Connell, People & Culture Leader, Flight Centre Travel Group, made these remarks.

“Our number one priority has always been our people; making sure they feel connected and supported whether they are in a head office, retail shop or back of house operation.”

“Our Workplace tool allows us the opportunity to provide this connection in a timely way.”

“Not only can we disseminate critical comms and wellbeing resources, but it’s a great platform to have fun and think outside the box to foster connection and collaboration.”

“Chat bots have provided some welcome relief for our people, because while we take our business seriously, we want our people to come to work happy and fulfilled.”

Jodi Paton, Chief People Officer, The HOYTS Group, also gave his opinion on the survey.

“With a large part-time workforce with no access to traditional company emails, Workplace bridges the communication gap between our support office and our cinema-based team.”

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our team members is our greatest priority.”

“Managing our cinemas as health and safety advice continues to evolve means we need to be able to share important updates with our frontline workers affected almost immediately, but it’s important that this communication also runs two-way.”

“We ask our team for feedback around health, safety and wellbeing on a regular basis.”

“Workplace provides a channel to ask questions, seek resources through the Knowledge Library, and provide feedback. With our frontline rapidly rebuilding as our business recovers, it’s a comfort to know that we have the right communication tool to connect everyone.”