Have A Frontline Culture Quandary? Here’s How To Fix It
By: Ashish Gambhir

The culture conversation: we’ve all had it. The question arises in recruiting sessions; interviews; even internally in top-level audits — what’s the culture like?

The culture question is ubiquitous for good reason: a plethora of research demonstrates that culture is a top factor in attracting millennials to the job. This may not seem like a big deal now, but Deloitte predicts Millennials will make up a staggering 75% of the workforce by 2025 — so it’s in companies’ best interests to ensure potential employees have no qualms about their workplace environment.

But… what is culture? Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Keeping up with the Kardashians?

Not quite. Workplace culture is a difficult thing to define. Part of it is chemistry — the extent to which employees get along and enjoy working together. Another facet is perceived value: do employees feel like they matter as an asset, or do they feel like just another number on corporate spreadsheet? Yet another factor is the work climate: what is the general vibe of the workplace? Casual, flexible, stiff? Do employees enjoy being at work?

These considerations grow more complicated in a frontline environment, where the team is not constantly grouped together in a single office driving towards a common goal. This is the case for most of America’s hourly workers, be they in retail, hospitality or the restaurant industry.

Shift isolation, high attrition rates — there are many factors that prevent culture from forming and maturing effectively on the sales floor. Here’s what you can do to counter them.

#ForgeBonds

Ensure that the team has opportunities to spend time together outside of work. This can be something as simple as coordinating a happy hour, forming an intramural sports team, or planning annual holiday parties. Staff may occasionally take this into their own hands, but managerial proactivity here helps legitimize the activity and cement it as an event that is tied to company culture rather than isolated to a few individuals. When staff bonds in contexts outside of work, they operate more comfortably and cohesively together in a workplace environment, and are less likely to depart on a whim for another job opportunity.

#TakeAMoment

Reach out. Don’t wait for an employee to come to you with a concern, or to quit altogether. Take a moment every two months or so to meet with each worker and field grievances or problems. It can be as little as a five minute one-to-one, but it is a giant leap in the battle to reassure employees that they matter. One top-notch GM who works with MomentSnap asks employees for their ideal shift schedules every few months, then completely reworks his restaurant’s calendar based on staff preferences — and his attrition rate is below 10 percent.

#CompanyPride

Take steps to ensure company pride. This step is arguably the most difficult, yet also the most important. Ask yourself: do my employees have a reason to be proud to work at my establishment? Are there opportunities for advancement? Do we offer perks or benefits that competitors don’t? Are we leaps and bounds ahead of other companies in the same vertical? This issue is long term, and reaches up to the highest tiers of an organization’s decision-makers. Yet even local managers can take steps to promote pride: setting up sales competitions to give employees an opportunity to earn recognition and awards; giving regular and consistent feedback for a job well done; holding all staff to a high standard so the establishment is respected.

That’s it: two simple action items and one long term guiding principle can nurture culture more effectively than any hifalutin scheme. Don’t believe it? Try it out in your organization. And let us know if you have any more tips.