How Top Employers are Hanging on to Their Frontlines

Female barista handing a customer his credit card back

A few years ago, we asked employees what makes their Dream Company. 

Answers were consistent across the board. A Dream Company, they said, offered them well-being, work/life balance, and career growth. 

In the crazy hot talent market, the answers hold up. And as employee priorities evolve, there’s good reason to think that third thing (career growth) has increasing sway over the first two (well-being and work/life balance).

How Career Growth Affects Work/Life Balance

Just look at frontlines. These critical employees have emerged as a focal point of the talent wars. The restaurant industry alone is experiencing record-level departures. “There were an average of nearly 900,000 job openings in the restaurants and accommodation sector in each month of last year.” the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this summer. “And quit rates this year are even higher.” 

And new research shows what they value in a job. “More than half wanted a stable, predictable schedule (57%) and almost 40 percent wanted greater scheduling flexibility and control over when they worked (38%),” reads the Branch Report on frontlines. “A positive work culture also ranked high on the list with 49.7 percent of respondents citing it as a top factor.”

All of the above (schedules, job flexibility, culture) factor into how satisfied people feel about things like well-being, work/life balance, and so their jobs. And what delivers on better schedules and job flexibility? Advancing careers. We saw this recently in a Bright Horizons study of nurses (another in-demand population), where the desire for better work/life balance clearly aligned with job choices offering education benefits. More advanced clinical positions, explained the Rx for RNs report, “offer higher pay and more predictable schedules – answers to two primary sources of nurse stress: financial well-being and schedule conflicts.”

The Growth of Education Benefits for Frontlines

It’s easy to see how the same would apply to frontlines. And it explains the number of frontline-driven companies (including Bright Horizons) that have expanded education benefits company-wide. So in effect, for many employees, education could be the first Dream Company domino that helps deliver on well-being and work/life balance, the other two. 

If you need one more reason to embrace the Dream Company recipe, consider this: employees in these organizations give as good as they get. They’re nearly three times more likely to be engaged, and half as likely as other employees to burn out. 

Perhaps most significant in the current era, they’re more loyal, with only 13% of them considering job changes, versus 52% of the general population – a huge deal for frontlines, who are extremely mobile and susceptible to poaching. 

In today’s frontline talent market, that should be eye-opening.

For these employees, “where they work is the defining factor,” says the Dream Company study. “By focusing on company over job, Dream Companies are in the best position to keep them.”

Frontline bank employee helping a customer

Open Access – Effective Education Benefits for Frontline Workers [Webinar]

Hear from HR leaders focused on frontline workers. Register now!

Written by: Alan Robins

September 25, 2019

About the Author

Alan Robins at Bright Horizons

As Director of Product Marketing, Alan drives original research and thought leadership for Bright Horizons education benefits programs, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies optimize education programs to support their Talent and HR objectives. Prior to Bright Horizons, Alan was at Gartner, a global leader in providing advisory services to technology and business executives, where he led new product teams in Europe and the US.