Three steps towards a less stressed workforce and reduced staff turnover

14 May 2024

Guest Column: Erik Fjellborg, CEO and Founder of Quinyx

It’s certainly been a difficult few years for businesses around the world. Working with global organisations in sectors including retail, hospitality and logistics, we know that many companies have been concerned about retaining their frontline staff. Employees are the greatest asset of any organisation, after all. They’re the heart of it: the warehouse operatives, waiters, delivery drivers, retail workers and more who keep the world turning. 

With continued rises in inflation, employers have had to bump up pay to try and hang onto staff, ensuring their businesses stay afloat. Yet wage rises only go so far, and many firms are struggling to afford regular pay increases. So what happens then? Is it inevitable that they will lose their best people? 

In my experience, it’s the businesses which have considered the wider picture of employee engagement – and actioned a strategy accordingly – that have managed to ride out the ongoing uncertainty of the last few years. Of course, fair pay matters - and it matters a lot, but it is only one factor in employees’ overall happiness, and whether they feel valued or not. 

On a positive note for time-strapped business leaders, while employee engagement is more important than ever, it needn’t be complicated, and can be kicked off today by considering the following three points.

Tech can help with understaffing - reducing stress and staff turnover as a result
In our annual State of the Frontline Workforce (SOFW) report, which looks at the behaviours and attitudes of more than 10,000 deskless staff, a third of employees cited ‘feeling stressed’ as the overriding reason they were thinking about leaving their jobs – the same number who were considering leaving for a higher salary. 

‘Reducing stress’ in general probably doesn’t sound like the easiest fix for many frontline businesses right now. Yet addressing one of the biggest and most common stressors – understaffing – is definitely more achievable. Many sectors are still struggling to fill vacancies, hence when already-lean workforces experience peaks in customer demand, it can create the perfect storm for overloaded ‘frontliners’. 

Workforce management technology can help take the pressure off both managers and employees. Systems like Quinyx use AI to provide up-to-the-minute staffing forecasting, taking into account likely peaks and troughs of customer demand, and helping to ensure resource is allocated in the most efficient way possible. Our Frontline Portal solution can also support with task management, helping staff feel less overwhelmed and more productive.

There’s the option to keep some shifts open and flexible too, giving employees more ownership over scheduling. They can choose and book their own shifts themselves via the touch of a button.  

Flexibility is key
Speaking of flexibility, our research shows that a large proportion of frontline staff still have no flex at all regarding their working patterns – and unsurprisingly, this is another leading cause of stress at work. Without greater flexibility, staff are likely to look elsewhere for a better work/life balance.

It can start small – as above, this could be enabling staff to switch shifts between themselves via an app. Scheduling, shift swapping and leave requests can all be managed easily, on phone screens, with workforce management tools. 

Introducing a flexible leave policy – e.g., making it easier to take time off for medical appointments, mental health days - is likely to have a positive impact too, helping to improve productivity and engagement while reducing absenteeism. 

Know that face-to-face still matters
In today’s digital world, most frontline workplace interactions happen via technology rather than in person. Yet any work apps or other digital tools used should have a true purpose and be genuinely helpful, or it’s likely they’ll create more stress for employees, not less. 

What’s more, sometimes there’s just no substitute for face-to-face communication. Employee engagement isn’t about ‘one-size-fits-all’ – we’re individuals, and regularly checking in with members of staff to find out what really matters to them is important. Are they keen to progress within the company? Are they lacking any specific training? What makes them tick? 

Showing a willingness to listen, and enabling workers to voice opinions on key issues (which could be done face-to-face or via pulse surveys run on WFM apps) can also help employees feel much more valued, and less stressed as a result.

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