Exhausted, overworked, and clocking into the unsupportive work environment with low morale — many deskless workers across industries share these issues.
The pandemic heroes reaped few rewards for their efforts, and the frontline workers in healthcare arguably got the worst of it. The research suggests that leaders, managers, and frontline workers all agree that the most pressing issues relate to employee staffing, retention, and burnout.
It’s logical to assume that staff are not motivated to put in work and would sooner run to another employer as soon as the opportunity arises.
This is why creating bespoke employee wellness programs for your frontline staff needs to be your top priority. However, creating and providing meaningful, high-quality wellness and well-being resources may be tricky.
Paltry gestures like free pizza won’t cut it.
To help, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the well-being of the deskless workforce below. ⬇️
Wellbeing in the Context of Deskless Workers
Office and frontline staff perform their duties in wildly different surroundings.
In most cases, average office workers remain comfortably seated and have somewhat predictable task lists. On the other hand, deskless workers have a more hands-on approach, with a more challenging work environment, varying paces, and some workdays more dynamic than others.
It’s only natural that these two groups have different understandings of workplace comfort, security, and employee well-being.
You must also factor in how different deskless roles are from one occupation to another. Whoever reads this will probably have a different image of a frontline worker in mind.
Retail, hospitality, food industry, healthcare, construction — no matter which deskless role you’ve thought of, it’s key to ask (and answer) the following essential questions.
1. What do they physically do at their workplace?
Most frontline workers need to be in good physical shape, strong, and agile to hold their jobs.
Bending over, lifting heavy objects, operating heavy equipment, standing for prolonged periods, performing repetitive movements, driving — and a lot more manual labour. Some work may not demand brute strength, but certain refined skills, such as handling food, bodily fluids, dangerous substances, and/or objects and tools of the trade.
Knowing the ins and outs of each role is a must if you want to secure frontline staff's physical well-being and health. These details should include:
- Knowledge of tools, equipment, and techniques that will perform heavy lifting and make daily duties easier on their bodies;
- What dangers they may face at their workplace, and corresponding procedures/ rules that will protect them from workplace injuries;
- Most common workplace mistakes that occur and how to prevent or minimise them;
- Health insurance package that matches their needs the most, with good resources for rest and recovery.
2. What kind of psychological impact does their workplace have?
Many frontline workers with client-facing roles joke that the clients are the worst thing about the job. Some aren’t joking — just think about the state of retail during Black Friday. 👀
First responders in healthcare, law enforcement, and firefighting face the highest levels of stress and can’t afford to make any mistakes; after all, they may be harmed during work themselves.
Addressing the employee' mental health matters just as much as their physical health:
- Frontline workers need specialised and easily accessible resources to work on their spiritual well-being;
- Managers and team leaders need proper training to recognise red flags in their co-workers (burnout, poor stress management, mental health issues) and diffuse toxic workplace situations.
3. What strengths, weaknesses, needs, and potential staff members have?
After learning about physical and psychological needs and challenges at the workplace, there’s one more task to embark on: getting to know your team members specifically.
A good workplace handles the first two questions — but a great one dedicates special attention to regular employee assessments and learning about their:
- Strengths — The work they excel at and are happy to perform.
- Weaknesses — Their most common mistakes, pain points, and everything that hinders their performance - their Kryptonite, so to speak.
- Individual needs — Beyond equipment and primary working conditions, some things can inspire and motivate them and increase their loyalty.
- Unlocked potential — The employee journey maps are the best way to explore their needs, wants and hidden potential that can be utilized for mutual satisfaction.
Learning about employees more deeply makes a visible difference in how valued and appreciated they feel.
Different Roles in Promoting Employee Wellness
Ensuring all employees feel great about their jobs is a matter of orchestrated teamwork.
HR professionals, managers, and team leaders have a key role in promoting a positive workplace culture and ensuring high levels of employee satisfaction.
The Role of HR
Human Resources cover more than administration, paperwork, and payroll — HR pros are also trusted with enhancing employee well-being and a wide range of related tasks.
Some of their many duties include:
- Develop strategies for employee recognition, satisfaction, and retention with specific action plans and KPIs;
- Create employee wellness programs for each company division;
- Survey the employees and research the best possible ways to make the role more desirable and competitive to potential hires;
- Pre-boarding and onboarding new team members so they’re productive and confident from the first day;
- Create and assign employee well-being budgets in collaboration with CFOs.
The Role of Management and Team Leaders
If someone knows what frontline staff needs, it’s their direct manager.
Team leaders and managers work closely with deskless workers, some of them on the front lines themselves. They are uniquely positioned to observe the issues their subordinates regularly face and find the best ways to resolve them.
A great team leader will, in addition to their usual workload, ensure the staff is well taken care of by:
- Creating an open feedback loop, so the employees have a chance to voice their concerns honestly and suggest possible solutions to higher levels;
- Working to implement the feedback given by staff;
- Promoting the accountability culture: leading by example, highlighting top performance, and helping boost poor performance;
- Advocating for their staff and helping bridge the gap between executives, middle management, and frontline staff;
- Observing red flags, mistakes, and opportunities for growth and improvement.
The Importance of Workplace Culture
Workplace culture is what saved many businesses from failing in recent years, providing a competitive advantage for companies that were smart enough to recognise it as a valuable investment. Workers themselves claim that a good workplace culture and values that align are one of the top priorities when deciding whether to take the job or continue searching.
Surprisingly, it’s not all about the money. More than ever, employees are quick to ditch the toxic workplace when they can; when they do remain at the unsatisfactory job, prepare for them “quietly quitting”.
Scaling Wellness Programs: How Mercu Fits In
Regardless of size, stage, or budget, each organisation can create working conditions where frontline staff can flourish and develop.
By just hearing your employees out, you can do what many giants still can’t, and create employee wellness and well-being programs that enhance employee retention and make you a desirable employer.
Mercu makes it a breeze: installing WhatsApp on work phones all it takes.
In return, you can use the wonderfully simple messaging platform to:
- Fully onboard new employees;
- Continuously test their knowledge;
- Provide bite-sized learning resources for daily improvement;
- Check up on the team morale and ask for their feedback in a brief, engaging manner;
- …and more!
There’s more to love — let us walk you through with a quick demo.