Why a Less Transient Frontline Workforce is a Business Imperative


Attracting and retaining experienced, to

p performers is key across any business - including bringing great frontline people to work on hospitality, food service, retail or healthcare teams. Jobs in these industries are undergoing a hiring transformation. Frontline employees are often the first touch customers have with your brand and they have a tremendous impact on the user experience. According to the Forbes article Why Frontline Workers Must Be Part of Your Digital Transformation, they are the first ones to represent your brand and engage customers, and their interactions can have a huge impact on how customers perceive your company. Yet the focus of talent retention s predominantly on salaried, professional employees who benefit from upskilling, reskilling, or carer development tools. Frontline workers continue to be overlooked.

But forward-thinking companies are transforming how to hire and retain frontline workers.


Taco Belll

Taco Bell’s innovative approach to attracting and retaining labor includes:

  • Two years ago, the company launched its Start With Us, Stay With Us platform as a way to help employees grow their careers within Taco Bell and beyond. Since then, Start With Us, Stay With Us has been bolstered by new initiatives, including the Live Más Scholarship; the Guild Education program, which is open to all 210,000 employees; and an ambitious plan to create 100,000 new jobs by 2022.
  • In addition to testing raising its manager salaries from $50,000 - $80,000 to $100,000, Taco Bell has also announced that it will be offering all of its employees 24 hours of paid sick time per year, as well as launching its “Makers” program for restaurant members seeking leadership experience. The company is also launching its Live Más Scholarship, which will award $6 million in 2020 to fans and team members.


walmart-logo-24Walmart specifically is emphasizing upskilling and career growth opportunities as key strategies for retention of its workforce, including:

  • The launch of Walmart Academies, an immersive training program tied to a working supercenter, allowing associates to receive both classroom and sales floor training in advanced retail skills and soft skills like leadership, communications, and change management. In 2018 alone, Walmart trained 450,000 associates, including frontline supervisors, department managers and assistant managers in these academies
  • The creation of a new video game called Spark City that allows employees to role play as a department manager. Through the game, associates enrolled in Walmart Academies learn the same techniques and processes that they would use on the sales floor in real life
  • In partnership with Guild Education, Walmart’s Live Better U program is allowing associates to earn debt-free degrees in business or supply chain management for just $1 per day. Walmart covers remaining costs and other required fees
  • Associates are receiving college credit for paid training at Walmart Academies. As of 2019, associates had already earned more than $317 million in college credits
  • The mega-retailer is also offering education benefits for GED, high school completion, language training, and professional development
  • In Walmart’s fiscal 2019, the company promoted more than 215,000 people to higher-paying jobs with increased responsibility
  • Full- and part-time associates are eligible for quarterly bonuses based on store performance. In Walmart’s fiscal 2019, hourly associates earned nearly $800 million in bonuses

And the financial benefits of retention are high. According to a recent Forbes and Microsoft study on Empowering the Frontline Workforce


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Also, a Pearson study crunched the numbers for a fictional company with 10,000 frontline workers who earn $30,000 or less annually. Pearson determined that the company would lose 85 percent of its workers each year, and estimated the average cost to find, rehire, and retrain replacement workers at $4,800 per employee. The study found that the company would spend approximately $40.8 million each year to fill job vacancies from voluntary turnover. 

The key takeaway is that pay is just the starting point. Training, work-life balance, career-pathing, empowerment, and recognition are all important elements for retention. The trend is clear: thoughtful retailers are re-investing in their people and they are delivering better business results. 


A less transient frontline workforce is now a business imperative.




Topics: learning and development, Retention, frontline workers

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