Frontline managers across retail, manufacturing, and delivery, are being shut out from strategic decision making, with just under half (49%) feeling empowered to make decisions that directly impact business goals, down from 62% in February pre-COVID-19, according to new research commissioned by Workplace from Facebook.

Further, since the start of the pandemic, 52% of frontline managers missed important information from head office, with 63% saying they do not have adequate communication tools, the 2020 Deskless not Voiceless report revealed.

Almost one fifth (19%) of frontline managers said they are rarely or never being consulted on strategic business decisions. This lack of input in decision-making and influence is impacting their perceived value, with only 45% of frontline leaders feeling valued by their business compared to 80% of their counterparts in HQ.  

Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton said the pandemic has shown us how pivotal frontline workers are to the economy, whether it’s keeping shelves stocked or transport running, and they will be at the forefront of economic recovery.

“Ensuring open and effective communication between HQ and frontline employees will be more important than ever before as businesses reopen and focus on recovery. Relaying vital information from HQ to frontline employees and sharing valuable insights from customers back to HQ will be critical. Providing all employees with the right communication tools to get the job done will help businesses run safely, efficiently and as productively as possible.”

The research also found that frontline managers believe they are wasting an average of 355 hours every year due to lack of communication with head office – the equivalent of 8.5 working weeks every year.

Encouragingly, frontline leaders not only believe the disconnect with HQ leaders has decreased from 49% to 25% during the pandemic, 61% also feel that HQ leaders better understand their work challenges since working remotely. But HQ leaders do not feel the same, with just 26% believing they better understand their frontline counterparts after working remotely.