Putting the frontline workforce at the forefront of technology | HCLTech
Workplace Experience

Putting the frontline workforce at the forefront of technology

Frontline workers influence impact company’s reputation, market perception and profitability. Understanding and addressing their needs can enable enterprises to put their full potential to work.
5 minutes read
Rakshit Ghura


Rakshit Ghura
Senior Vice President & Global Head - Digital Workplace Services
5 minutes read
Putting the frontline workforce at the forefront of technology

The workplace evolution and frontline exclusion

  • The first challenge organizations face today is the unique setup of frontline workspaces, making it difficult to contextualize solutions for their diverse operational environments.
  • Next is the lack of adequate training, which deepens the gap between required skills and emerging technologies and hinders the integration of frontline workers into transformation initiatives.
  • Additionally, frontline workers’ physical distance from core enterprise leadership often results in their oversight, leading to a disconnect between strategic decision-making and frontline needs.
  • Cost constraints also create significant barriers to adopting the latest tools and technologies tailored for frontline workers. This limits their ability to use innovation to enhance productivity and performance.

While office-based employees utilize desktops or laptops, frontline workers operate with specialized gear and complex machinery tailored to their on-field tasks. Neglecting frontline workers' technological needs not only hampers their effectiveness but also widens the digital divide within enterprises. Closing this gap presents a significant opportunity to enhance frontline worker productivity and their integration back into the workplace.

The implications we cannot afford

“Frontline workers are the folks that make our economy go around. They ensure everything from manufacturing to delivery, without whom not a single package or meal delivery would occur," says Drew Ehlers, Head of global partners, Zebra Technologies.

Overlooking their needs or undervaluing them can lead to several consequences, such as:

Reduced growth and quality

Neglecting the frontline workforce impacts your organization’s performance at all levels. First, it impacts your business growth, as frontline workers are integral to the execution of operational tasks and delivering services.

Moreover, when frontline workers feel disconnected or disengaged from your core enterprise, they may become demotivated, which can affect their productivity and lead to subpar results.

Compromised security

Frontline workers often operate in physically demanding environments, which make them more susceptible to accidents and injuries. Neglecting their needs increases the probability of accidents and injuries and jeopardizes employee safety and operational continuity. This also leads to costly downtime, production delays and potential compliance issues for an organization.

Decreased customer trust and brand image

"Frontline workers are crucial for enhancing customer experience and trust as they interact with your customers daily, contributing significantly to your firm's brand reputation. Any belief that remote or virtual methods can replace their importance is misguided. Frontline workers have been, are and will remain indispensable." says Yugal Joshi, Partner, Information Technology Services, Everest Group.

Addressing frontline workers’ welfare and engagement is paramount for ensuring organizational success and sustainability in today's dynamic business landscape.

How do you elevate the frontline workforce?


“As these people are away from the corporate office, crafting solid business cases for technology investments for frontline workers is often the biggest challenge all leaders face,” says Rakshit Ghura, SVP & Global Head, , HCLTech.

Yet, several vertical-specific use cases offer valuable insights into improving the frontline workforce experience across various industries. For instance, implementing mobile fleet management systems in healthcare enables frontline workers instant access to patient files, facilitating efficient care delivery to streamline operations.

In the retail sector, providing line managers with smartphone applications can help and enrich customer experience (CX) through improved service and responsiveness.

Similarly, the shift to digital devices in manufacturing can enhance productivity and overall workforce experience by providing real-time data access, facilitating seamless communication and optimizing operational workflows.

These tailored solutions tell us the importance of aligning technological innovations with industry-specific needs and how these changes can make frontline workers more efficient while improving their satisfaction.

Monitor frontline productivity and attrition rates

To create a holistic workplace — where frontline workers feel equally crucial as desk-based workers — you must first monitor the percentage of frontline workers you have in your total workforce. Once you have this data, try answering these questions: Has there been a recent reduction in frontline employee productivity in your organization and if yes, to what extent? Has there been a hike in attrition rate among these workers?

Reassure that they’re the lifeline for your business

With evolving technology, it’s easy for your frontline workers to feel that they need to be more adept than desk-based workers when it comes to technology. That’s where leaders need to pitch in and create a culture where the frontline workforce feels motivated and not discouraged. Let them know you believe in augmenting your frontline workers and not replacing them with technology.

Establish KPIs and XLAs

One of the foundational elements of enhancing frontline worker productivity is measuring their performance. This involves identifying specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Experience Level Agreements (XLAs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) tailored to their roles. Establish these metrics to track performance and identify areas for improvement.

Share success stories

Success stories abound across various industries, showcasing the power of . From retail giants optimizing store operations to healthcare providers streamlining patient care, leaders can share various inspiring stories with the world and tell them how focused initiatives such as identifying frontline worker-specific KPIs and SLAs and using the right technology can enable this workforce to maximize their contribution across industries.

Key takeaways for enterprises


Drawing from these experiences, enterprises can keep in mind specific strategies to boost frontline worker productivity:

Offer transparent feedback

Establish channels for transparent feedback and recognition to better understand the unique needs and challenges your frontline workers face. This will help you promote a culture of continuous improvement and empower employees to contribute meaningfully.

Foster engagement

Establish avenues for engagement through regular communication and involve your frontline workers in decision-making processes wherever possible. The objective should be to make them feel valued and an integral part of the broader enterprise.

Empower with technology

Use employee experience platforms such as Microsoft Viva to facilitate seamless communication, streamline task management and provide access to critical information to your frontline workers, so they can improve collaboration and productivity.

Implement training and change management strategies

"Enterprises have been heavily focused on training information workers, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when the intent was to bring everybody immediately effective in their business role. This has widened the technology gap between frontline and information workers. While investments surged to optimize the efficiency of information workers, frontline workers were left underserved, which has prevented them from fulfilling their crucial roles. Addressing this technology gap — with the right change management initiatives — is a significant opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of frontline workers and align them more closely with enterprise workplace strategies," said Andrew Ehler, Head of Global Partners, Zebra Technologies.

However, it’s essential that your change management initiatives focus on addressing concerns and facilitating a smooth transition to new technologies.


The way forward

Maximizing frontline worker productivity requires a holistic approach that encompasses measurement, strategic initiatives and effective technology utilization. By implementing the recommended strategies and drawing inspiration from success stories, you can empower your frontline workforce to achieve greater efficiency, customer satisfaction and organizational success.

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