Why 2020 Will Be the Year of the Frontline Employee

Hotel frontline employee transporting guest luggage

Did you board a plane on one of the recent holidays? See a movie? Go to a hotel?

Did you reach for your phone to reach emergency turkey triage when your deep fryer lit your bird on fire? 

If you did any of those things (and sympathies on the turkey), you unquestionably noticed one thing.

People. Were. Working.

While corporate offices everywhere may have been shuttered for the holiday, frontline employees soldiered on, acting not merely as purveyors of services, but as the essential faces of their brands. 

How important are they? Just think about the time you left a restaurant because there was no one there to seat you. Or gave up on a phone order because there was no one able to answer your question. It often takes just one bad experience for a customer to leave your business.

That’s how important they are. 

“It’s never been more important to deliver a consistent, seamless experience,” wrote Forbes’ Blake Morgan recently about trends sure to affect employers in 2020. 

“Help Wanted” Signs Putting Frontlines in the Spotlight

Yet finding those brand ambassadors is increasingly difficult. Look at the numbers. In October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed quit rates for accommodations and food services up double digits over 2018. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal called monthly job openings in those same industries a record.

And employers are taking note, responding to frontlines concerns about family/job conflicts, and hourly workers’ desires for job growth. As a result, the benefits arms race is no longer limited to corporate employees. Check the newspapers and you’ll find big names across industries fueling attention-grabbing headlines about tuition assistance and back-up care being expanded to valuable people on their frontlines. It’s smart business, supporting what Forbes called the “psychological foundation” that will shape customer demands. With 2020 bringing no relief to the talent wars, you can bet the stakes will only get higher. 

So if you’re out on any major holiday (or in fact any day) in the coming year and getting great customer service from employees who would no doubt love to be home, be sure to say thanks. 

And know that the brand representation and the willingness to work on a holiday didn’t happen by accident. It’s the sign of an employer behind those people doing something right.

Frontline employee in a wood warehouse

The Race for Frontline Employees

Access this ebook to learn about the challenges of supporting and retaining frontline employees through family and education benefits.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

January 7, 2020

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.