Almost half (43%) of Australian frontline workers are planning to find roles with better perks and growth in 2022 or move out of the frontline workforce entirely (46%), according to the Deskless not Voiceless: The 2021 Frontline Barometer by Workplace from Meta.

The research highlights the need for businesses to build a more connected employee experience with just over half (61%) feeling connected to their company headquarters. 

To help businesses better connect their frontline staff and empower them with information, Workplace is pre-announcing an integration with WhatsApp. Expected to be available in 2022, this will help organisations ensure that important updates from Workplace can be shared directly with employees over WhatsApp.

We’re at a critical juncture of the employer-frontline relationship and the Great Frontline Resignation is a very real threat, according to Workplace from Meta global director, Christine Trodella.

“While it’s clear from this year’s report that business leaders recognise the fundamental role frontline workers play in their organisations, actions speak louder than words. Now is the time for leadership to listen, learn, and more importantly, take action to build a workforce that is inclusive of the workers who brought them through the pandemic,” she said.

The research reveals a misalignment between C-suite priorities for 2022 and frontline’s needs. The Barometer also provides actionable guidance on how to ensure frontline retention, given that only 41% of respondents expect to be with the same employer in the new year and beyond.

Frontline workers are looking for alternative roles for multiple overlapping reasons, but it’s clear that the C-suite is not planning to address many of them. For instance, 55% of frontline workers say they will move for a better salary, yet only 25% of C-suite workers are planning to increase their investment into wages.

Similarly, despite more than half of frontline workers planning to move to other roles for more training and development (54%), only 26% of the C-suite plan to increase investment in training. In fact, one in six (16%) plan to decreaseinvestment in this area in the coming year.

The vast majority (85%) of the C-suite say they started to value their frontline workers more than they did prior to the pandemic, but more than half of frontline employees (56%) still believe they are seen as less important than their HQ counterparts. Further, just over half of frontline employees feel that in-office and/or HQ workers receive better perks and benefits (52%), and better technology tools to manage their day-to-day work (47%).

More than two thirds (68%) of frontline workers either suffered from, or felt at risk of, burnout over a 12-month period starting from September 2020. In addition, nearly two-thirds (66%) believe that their employers should prioritise additional tools and processes to help them manage their mental health. However, less than half (48%) of C-suite leaders say that supporting frontline workers’ mental health needs is one of their top three priorities in 2022.