Frontline Workers Say They Are ‘Seen but not Heard’

A new research report finds that operations, safety & health and wellbeing are what are most important to employees, though they don’t feel comfortable weighing in.
Operations, safety and health and wellbeing are deemed the most important topics within an organization for most frontline workers.

A new research report finds that operations, safety & health and wellbeing are what are most important to employees, though they don’t feel comfortable weighing in.  

The majority of American, Australian and British frontline workers (67%) say that they are never, rarely or only sometimes listened to on topics that matter to them the most—operations (54%), safety (46%) and health/wellbeing (49%)—according to new research by SafetyCulture. In fact, 66% of American frontline workers said they are rarely, never or only sometimes listened to by management on these important topics. 

SafetyCulture’s new Feedback from the Field research report features the views of American, British and Australian frontline workers, defined as individuals who must “physically show up to their job.” These workers include those in the hospitality, retail, manufacturing and logistics sectors.   

When it comes to taking action, just over one in four American and Australian frontline workers (27% each) feel empowered to take action and solve an issue themself. In the UK, just over one in five frontline workers feel empowered to tackle issues (22%).

Other feedback from the report reveals:

Fear of retaliation and lack of management action prevents frontline feedback – Job loss as a result of reporting a safety or quality issue to management, including adherence to COVID-19 protocols, is a real fear for many frontline workers. Almost half of Australian frontline workers (48%), more than a third of American frontline workers (36%) and more than one in five British frontline workers (22%) feel this is a concern.

Frontline staff do not feel empowered to directly solve issues – More than one in three frontline workers (34%) agree their willingness to provide workplace feedback is impacted by a belief that “nothing will be done” once reported. More than one in four said they lacked confidence management would address safety issues they raise. 

“While frontline workers have kept our nations running over the past 18 months, many don’t feel that their voices are valued,” said Bob Butler, global general manager of SafetyCulture. “It’s clear that these critical workers want a say in the operations and running of their workplaces. Two-way communication between frontline workers and management is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it is a business imperative. Leaders need to be arming their teams with the right tools to allow them to add value, be heard and stay safe.” 

Having a valued voice and quality training are key for frontline job seekers – As many organizations navigate The Great Resignation of 2021, SafetyCulture’s research also reveals that quality training is of key importance to frontline jobseekers when considering a new role. Seven in ten frontline workers (70%) describe training as either “very important “or a “top priority” ahead of a competitive holiday allowance (40%). (See blog posts related to The Great Resignation: The ‘Great Resignation’ Part One: What Steps Is Your Organization Taking to Retain and Entice Employees?, The ‘Great Resignation’ Part Two: Is Career Transparency the Key to Engaging and Retaining Employees? and The ‘Great Resignation’ Part Three: Employee Retention Starts Before the First Day on the Job.)

Feeling confident they have a valued voice was also important for frontline workers when considering new roles, according to 72% of Australian, 60% of American and almost half of British (48%) frontline workers. 

To read the full report visit: https://safetyculture.com/ebooks/feedback-from-the-field/  

This entry was posted in EHSQ and tagged , , , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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