An effective frontline onboarding strategy is more than just a checklist that makes sure employees receive the handbook and complete their tax paperwork. It’s about connecting your frontline workers to your culture and properly welcoming them so they feel like they belong.
Why Onboarding Frontline Employees Matters
Your employee onboarding process is one of the most important things to consider in the employee lifecycle.
And that’s because how effective your onboarding process is determines how successful that new hire is and can even determine how long they stay at the company.
SHRM studies have found that 1 in 5 employees quit within their first 45 days.
That astonishing new hire quit rate probably comes down to the fact that only 12% think their employer did a good job onboarding them. But when 35% of companies spend no money at all on onboarding (Enboarder) and 60% of companies don’t set any goals for their new employees (HBR), it’s not surprising that onboarding isn’t often a good experience.
But the frontline employee onboarding experience is even harder to get right. The experience from one site location to the next can be vastly different and harder to control for. Much more hinges on your people managers and local HR business partners.
And so much more is at stake. Frontline workers are already more likely to feel disconnected from their company and peers, to not receive enough recognition, and to not receive adequate communication and updates. Throw a bad onboarding experience on top of that, and you’ve poisoned the well from the start.
Challenges of Frontline Onboarding
So, what makes the process of onboarding frontline teams so much harder than on-site employees? Or even remote workers?
- Work location. The biggest challenge is simply the distributed nature of the frontline workforce. This makes it difficult for a corporate HR team to curate a streamlined but effective frontline onboarding process. They rely so heavily on the manager of each team to actually carry out the onboarding.
- Manager variability. Because each of your frontline locations relies heavily on the management team there for everything, individual managers make a huge impact on onboarding. HBR even found that nearly half of frontline managers are only in their first year in a leadership role. This inexperience can certainly impact how well they onboard and train their teams.
- Fast-paced environments. Many industries with frontline workers, especially hospitality, work in incredibly fast-paced environments. High turnover rates and seasonality mean that there is always a revolving door of new employees. And once employees start work, they’re often needed to be up and running ASAP. This means that onboarding isn’t always given the proper investment and that it might be cut short to get that employee productive faster.
- Inadequate tools. Many frontline staff only have a back of house (BOH) computer to complete their onboarding checklist. Typically, this consists of going through some virtual training videos, passing some quizzes, and signing some documents. Although this might check the box from a legal standpoint, it falls short of properly welcoming employees and connecting them to the culture, values, and vision.
Strategies for Effective Frontline Onboarding
Although there are many obstacles to overcome when onboarding frontline employees, a mix of the right tools and strategy can make a meaningful difference.
1. Start with manager training.
Odds are, if your frontline managers aren’t providing the best onboarding experience, perhaps they didn’t have a great one either.
What was their training like? How are they being supported during new hire onboarding? What resources are you giving them?
Because so much relies on these managers, you have to invest in training and supporting them through the process. This can come in the form of:
- Leadership and communication training.
- Talking points.
- Better welcome packets to share with new hires.
- 30, 60, 90 day plans for onboarding and new hire integration.
Remember, managers on the front lines of your business are incredibly busy. They are facing high turnover, fast-paced work environments, and juggling all employee needs all the time. Automate as much as you can and make their onboarding processes easy to follow (e.g. checklists).
And, if possible, give them some backup. Using better internal comms tools, you can take some of the pressure off of the manager.
2. Invest in Frontline Communication Tools
One of the best things you can do to improve frontline onboarding is to have communication channels that are accessible and easy to use.
Remember that many frontline workers are thrown right into the fire, especially in hospitality, which means they don’t have a ton of time to watch training videos and sift through your intranet on the BOH computer.
You need targeted communication on mobile channels where you can push well-timed messages to your new frontline workers. For example, when a new frontline worker comes on board, you could:
- Send them a series of text messages to prepare them for their first shift/week with reminders for key parts of the onboarding process.
- Invite them to register for your employee app where you store a hub of resources they’ll need and have welcome posts waiting for them in their news feed.
3. Tailor your onboarding paths.
Recognize that not all frontline roles are the same.
You don’t onboard your senior leaders the same way as your entry-level hires (at least you shouldn’t be 👀). The same is true for your frontline teams.
As much as you can, try to tailor your onboarding process to specific job roles within the frontline, addressing their unique responsibilities and needs. This ensures that employees receive relevant training and information that directly applies to their day-to-day tasks.
The best way to reduce that high turnover rate, especially early on, is to:
- Give employees a feeling of confidence in themselves.
- Help them feel like they are part of something bigger.
4. Create a mentorship program.
Managers can’t do it all. We already ask so much of them. That’s why investing in a mentorship network is so vital.
Implement mentorship programs where experienced frontline employees can guide newcomers.
Pairing new hires with mentors helps them integrate into the team faster, receive practical insights, and feel more connected. It’s a valuable way to transfer knowledge and create a sense of belonging from the start.
Why Use theEMPLOYEEapp to Onboard Frontline Employees
When it comes to onboarding frontline workers effectively, you need a solution that is efficient, engaging, and, most importantly, accessible. This is why theEMPLOYEEapp is a game-changer for companies striving to improve their employee experience, starting from hiring and onboarding.
- Multi-channel and mobile accessible. Whether you’re using our app or sms texting solution, we meet your frontline workers where they are: anywhere. Our mobile-first approach ensures that onboarding materials can be accessed anytime, anywhere, from any device.
- Seamless, targeted, and timely communication. Effective onboarding requires clear communication. theEMPLOYEEapp provides a central platform where HR and management can deliver vital information to new frontline employees. Whether it’s sharing training materials, company policies, or important updates, our communications app ensures that the message reaches the right people promptly
- Engaging multimedia content. Effective onboarding involves more than just reading documents. It’s about engaging your new hires with multimedia content that facilitates better understanding. Our platform supports various media formats, allowing you to incorporate videos, surveys, and visually engaging materials into your onboarding process.
By using theEMPLOYEEapp for your frontline onboarding, you not only streamline the process but also enhance accessibility, communication, and engagement, setting your frontline workers up for success from day one.
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