3 steps to start building a resilient frontline workforce

resilient frontline workforce

The content from this blog is courtesy of JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect of Axonify, modern learning for the frontline that actually works.   To learn more about Axonify and Kronos partnership, visit their marketplace page


Resilience has gone from buzzword to business imperative this year. Elevated health and safety measures. Nonstop process and policy changes. Aggravated and misinformed customers. The frontline workforce is not traditionally prepared for these challenges. Event-based, analogue communication and training have proven to be no match for the disruption wrought by a global pandemic.


Frontline workforce

The frontline has to be ready for anything (aka resilient) if businesses hope to thrive in the next normal—whatever it may be. We’ve learned a lot over the past several months. Based on these real-life observations (and data), here are the three essential considerations for building a resilient frontline workforce

#1: Open the lines of communication 

Timely and consistent communication is more important than ever. Safety procedures, operational strategies and customer policies are changing constantly. An employee may work their shift, be off for two days, and return to an entirely new set of rules. Information is moving faster than bulletin boards and pre-shift meetings can support. As a result, employees may not be using the best information available to make critical, customer-facing decisions. 

Forward-thinking companies are rapidly adopting digital messaging to overcome these limitations and boost employee engagement. They’re making communication simple, fast and consistent so they can get their frontline the information they need to stay safe and productive on the job. 

This has come to life within the Axonify community as organizations leverage our platform to improve frontline communication. From May to July 2020, we saw a 35% jump in messaging volume as management worked to keep their workforces, including those who were furloughed or working at home, updated and connected. 

#2: Fight forgetfulness with reinforcement 

Frontline employees are being asked to change the way they work. That means breaking old habits—many that have been in place for years—and building new ones. This doesn’t happen overnight. 

People forget. We’re just not built to remember everything we watch or read. Reinforcement is essential for building frontline resilience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with information when things are changing as fast as they are right now. Reinforcement is the only way to make sure employees remember the right things, so they make the right decisions in the moment of action. 

Reinforcement training has been a critical part of the pandemic response within the Axonify community. Employees complete 5-minute microlearning sessions 2 to 3 times per week. From March through July 2020, they completed an extra 3 million microlearning sessions. They also answered 21 million learning questions on 20+ specific COVID-19-related topics. This daily training resulted in measurable increases in employee knowledge. For example, knowledge of proper hand washing procedures increased by 15+%. 

Your frontline employees are a lot like professional athletes. They need practice to perform their best when the stakes are high. Personalized daily training and targeted coaching only take a few minutes every day but make a huge difference for frontline performance. 

#3: Take advantage of BYOD 

Technology access has always been a challenge on the frontline. Employees usually have to leave their workspace to complete training or access the intranet on an ancient desktop computer in a back room. Meanwhile, the most powerful device in the workplace is sitting dormant in their pocket. 

Companies are now dealing with an entirely new technology problem as a result of the pandemic. They are doing their best to eliminate all unnecessary touchpoints. This means shared devices, just like high fives and handshakes, are being paused. Plus, tight staffing and customer demand means employees don’t have time to leave the floor to complete scheduled training. 

The good news: companies are rethinking their BYOD (bring your own device) policies to leverage the very capable devices in workers’ pockets. After all, employees already know how to use them. They clean them regularly. They are, without a doubt, the simplest, most convenient way to get employees the information they need without forcing them to leave the floor. This increased focus on frontline mobility resulted in more than three-quarters of Axonify training sessions being completed on mobile devices between May and July 2020. 

The benefits now clearly outweigh the risks.  Considerations like legal and security concerns are easily overcome through tactics such as single sign-on, user agreements, network gates and app integrations.  There’s simply no reason to ignore the potential for BYOD on the frontline. 

If this year has proven anything, its change is really the only constant.  Your frontline workforce is already playing an essential role in moving your business forward.  They need your help to develop the knowledge and skill needed to deal with whatever comes next.  Building resilience begins with the basics: closing communication gaps, reinforcing critical job behaviors and making sure employees can access the information they need whenever and wherever they do their work. 

This is how you build a team of agile, confident performers.  And when your frontline is ready for anything, your business is too. 

Ready to move your frontline forward? Join us on Sept 28-29 for AxoniCom LIVE the only event dedicated to helping you build your most resilient, agile and engaged frontline workforce.