Talent Management, Employee Experience, and Multi-Channel HCM are Essential to Retaining Frontline Workers

November 15, 2022 | 7 minute read
Jeff Wilson
Director, Global Competitive Strategies—Applications
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Before 2020, the term “frontline worker” was not a part of the everyday vernacular. People perhaps took for granted the importance of workers such as hospital employees, factory workers, and store clerks. However, when COVID-19 caused the world to close all at once, the lights stayed on in the locations staffed by those employees. From hospitals to the supermarket, employees put their masks on and went to work while others stayed home and socially distanced.

What is a frontline worker?

The answer might seem obvious, but there is a distinction between two groups: essential workers and frontline workers.

Essential workers, as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security, are a group of workers “who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.” This includes medicine and healthcare, telecommunications, food and agriculture, IT systems, defense, etc. Overall, this represents 82% of workers in the US.[1]

Alternatively, frontline workers are a subcategory of essential workers in occupation groups where a substantial majority cannot feasibly work from home. In the US, frontline workers represent 64% of essential workers in the US,[2] and 80% of the overall global workforce.[3] Frontline workers include healthcare workers, police and EMS, food processing workers, and truck drivers, among many other roles. On average, frontline workers receive lower wages and are more likely to come from socio-economically disadvantaged groups.[4]

What’s the problem?

To put it simply, frontline workers are getting burned out.

Looking at healthcare workers as an example, even before the pandemic, 35%-54% of nurses and physicians and 45%-60% of medical students and residents reported symptoms of burnout, which is characterized by a high degree of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (cynicism), and a lower sense of personal accomplishment in the workplace. During the pandemic, researchers found that 93% of health workers were experiencing stress, 86% had anxiety, and 76% reported exhaustion and burnout. There are many causes of this stress, including unrealistic expectations, lack of leadership support, limited flexibility, autonomy and voice, excessive workload, and an overall absence of focus on their well-being.[5]

Across industries, frontline workers are more likely to report lower levels of satisfaction with their jobs. For example, only 45% of hourly frontline employees think they can utilize work-life policies without compromising advancement, and hourly frontline employees are 20% less likely to agree with the effectiveness of their employer’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.[6] Overall, one-third of deskless workers are planning to leave their jobs in the next six months.[7] Even if these workers decide to stay, they must be supported and empowered to manage the pace of change and disruption they continue to face. When employees view their experience positively, 60% say they are more likely to stay and 69% are more likely to be a high-performing employees.[8]

What can be done to support and retain frontline workers?

Frontline workers need to be adapted to, connected with, understood, and developed.

When workers are working in a hospital, driving a truck, or working an assembly line, they do not have regular access to a computer to complete HR-related tasks. Very often, those workers depend on their mobile devices or other channels. That means the company’s HCM needs to adapt to these workers’ environment, having the same features and functions available through other channels as a computer. This empowers frontline workers to complete the necessary tasks where and when they can, without adding any additional stress.

There is a significant gap between frontline workers’ aspirations for advancement in their positions and the reality. More than 70% of frontline workers want to be promoted within their companies, but only 4% make the leap to corporate. This represents a significant disconnect given that 70% of progressions to gateway jobs (those that give workers an opportunity to build skills and experience) hinge on transferable interpersonal skills, which are best learned through experience.[9] This means that companies need to better understand workers’ skill sets and develop workforce skills through effective talent management that can lead to better engagement and advancement.[10]

With so many frontline employees feeling disconnected and isolated, communication and networking can be key to building relationships, driving mentorship, and streamlining the flow of information. When employees stay connected with managers and co-workers, they develop a sense of belonging and can understand new and important information, such as healthcare protocols, right away.[11] Further, employees need to have a voice and be understood. Employers need to have an effective means of understanding their employees needs so that they can design experiences and growth opportunities to improve morale and increase company loyalty.

How can Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM be uniquely suited for frontline workers?

Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM is a complete cloud solution that connects every HR process and person, including frontline workers, across your enterprise. It helps to create a community where people feel valued and heard.

One of the most important features of Oracle Cloud HCM is that it is consistent from any device, allowing frontline workers to complete HR tasks from their mobile phones and have their HCM meet them where they are.

Additionally, Oracle Talent Management is just one part of helping frontline workers develop their careers. It includes:

  • Learning that is skills-driven and personalized, helping employees qualify for careers of interest and upskill the workforce with recommendations and tailored learning campaigns
  • Career Development with paths that allow career exploration and reviewing roles in the organization, and development plans with goals and tasks tied to roles of interest
  • An Opportunity Marketplace, allowing for growth by combining job postings, volunteer options, and internal gigs all in one place
  • A skills database with a team skills center, AI-driven skills analysis, and personalized portal which provides a centralized place for employees and managers to manage skills and recommend actions to drive personal and organizational growth

To address employee experience, Oracle ME, a part of Oracle Cloud HCM, is a complete employee experience platform that empowers your talent to connect, grow, and thrive. With a full understanding of the needs, aspirations, and the “me” behind every worker, you can design experiences that bring out the best in every person. The platform consists of:

  • Oracle Journeys: Drive success by delivering personalized guidance to support employees through professional and personal workflows, such as onboarding, exploring career opportunities, transferring to a new role, or getting married
  • Oracle Touchpoints: Provide a continuous engagement and action channel between employees and managers that create meaningful interactions
  • Oracle HCM Communicate: Create communications that shape culture and drive behaviors that matter to your organization
  • Oracle Connections: Enrich relationships in the workplace by helping people find colleagues, experts, and mentors and share interests and feedback
  • Oracle HR Help Desk: Deliver quick, consistent, and intelligent HR services to every employee through a scalable and unified service request management solution
  • Digital Assistant for HCM: Provide seamless communication and guidance to all employee questions with conversational AI support through an HR chatbot over numerous channels including the web, mobile, SMS, smart speakers, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more

There are HCM alternatives who claim to support frontline workers. Workday recently announced several additional new workforce management mobile functions, designed to appeal to companies with frontline workers.[12] However, even with more mobile functionality, Workday still does not offer its full suite via mobile app,[13] and Workday Assistant, its digital chatbot, currently only works with Slack and Microsoft Teams as additional channels outside the desktop version and mobile app.[14] Workday has even suggested that frontline workers use Microsoft Viva Connections, a third-party application, to clock in and out of shifts.[15] In contrast to Oracle Touchpoints, which is natively built for the cloud, Workday’s listening platform is acquired and does not even function on the same platform, requiring integration.[16] Also, while Workday and Oracle both have searchable organizational talent profiles with skills and interests,[17] Oracle Connections currently goes further by being consumer-grade, having social media links, and tagging search capabilities, leading to enriched workplace relationships.

One of the many organizations that realized the value of Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM for its frontline workers is Nemours Children’s Health, which employs 8,000 associates and cares for more than 480,000 children per year. It moved from aging on-premises applications to Oracle Cloud HCM and ERP. In April 2022, Nemours went live on Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM. The result was frontline users being able to securely access pay stubs from anywhere; faster and easier employee reviews and performance management; and better management of remote workers.

How can Oracle Cloud HCM help you prioritize deskless worker needs?

People expect their organizations to support them, value them, and be socially responsible. To retain deskless workers, employers must redesign the employee experience. Discover Oracle Cloud HCM for more information.

Disclaimer: The preceding is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing, and pricing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation.

[1] Blau, Francine et al., “Essential and Frontline Workers in the COVID-19 Crisis (Updated)”, The EconoFact Network, 22 March 2022, https://econofact.org/essential-and-frontline-workers-in-the-covid-19-crisis

[2] Ibid.

[3] Zhang, Jacqueline, “Adopting HR Technology to Win the War for Deskless Workforce: Stability in Turbulent Times”, Baker Tilly, 15 August 2022, https://www.bakertilly.com/insights/adopting-hr-technology-to-win-the-war-for-deskless

[4] Blau et al., The EconoFact Network

[5] “Addressing Health Worker Burnout”, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2022, https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/health-worker-wellbeing-advisory.pdf

[6] Copeland, Chris et al., “Race in the Workplace: The Frontline Experience”, McKinsey & Company, 30 July 2022, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/race-in-the-workplace-the-frontline-experience

[7] Zhang, Baker Tilly

[8] “What Is Employee Experience?”, Oracle Cloud HCM, Accessed 26 October 2022, https://www.oracle.com/human-capital-management/employee-experience/what-is-employee-experience/

[9] Copeland, McKinsey & Company

[10] Zhang, Baker Tilly

[11] Ibid.

[12] Miller, Ron, “Workday Turns More Modern and Personalized with New Interface Makover”, TechCrunch, 13 September 2022, https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/13/workday-turns-more-modern-and-personalized-with-new-interface-makeover/

[13] “Workday for Android”, Workday, Accessed 22 September 2022, https://android.workday.com/#description

[14] “Workday Assistant-Chatbot is Here!”, TeamUpHR, Accessed 14 October 2022, https://www.teamuphr.com/single-post/workday-assistant-chatbot-is-here

[15] Workday Staff Writers, “Workday and Microsoft: Connecting the Employee Experience”, Workday Blog, 14 July 2021, https://blog.workday.com/en-us/2021/workday-microsoft-viva-integration.html

[16] Kristiana, “Set Up Peakon’s Workday Integration”, Peakon Support, 4 May 2022, https://support.peakon.com/hc/en-us/articles/4405995533714-Set-up-Peakon-s-Workday-integration

[17] “Workday Talent Optimization”, Workday, Accessed 22 September 2022, https://www.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/datasheets/datasheet-workday-talent-management.pdf

Jeff Wilson

Director, Global Competitive Strategies—Applications

Jeff Wilson is a director of global competitive strategies at Oracle, focusing on Cloud HCM. He also previously led competitive insights for cloud software products at companies including Sage and Datto, Inc.


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