It has become harder than ever to hire and retain frontline workers. Within the flurry of activity that comes with starting a new position, employees can feel under-supported — which often leads to high rates of churn and issues related to understaffing. 

Even when businesses are able to hire frontline workers, they may struggle with last-minute no-shows and shift cancelations. This leaves them understaffed when they’re unable to find replacements in time. The result? Overworked employees, underserved customers, and a major hit to the business’s bottom line.

One thing is clear. As the world changes, companies must adjust to make sure their frontline employees are supported, happy, and positioned to succeed,

Businesses need a new way to engage frontline workers

Many businesses are realizing what colleges and universities have figured out in recent years: Their standard communication channels aren’t sufficient

In-person-only communication makes it too easy to forget key details, and it doesn’t account for reaching employees when they’re in different physical locations or working second or third shifts. Emails don’t work either, though. They don’t get opened soon enough and can easily get lost in the sea of other emails. 

With the recent challenges of COVID-19 still very much in mind, the business world is recognizing this problem and adjusting its response. In particular, HR and management teams have begun relying on SMS text communication as a primary or supplementary communications channel. 

Text messages are read at much higher rates than email, and employee engagement platforms make it possible to automatically send messages at scale to employees and respond with personalized, intelligent answers to their questions via SMS text messaging. Furthermore, text messages give employees a “digital footprint” that they can reference later — ensuring the information you send them isn’t forgotten and is easily accessible on a device that is with them at all times.

The top 5 ways HR professionals use SMS texting to support frontline workers:

1. Reduce no-shows

Most businesses with frontline workers struggle with hired employees who never show up on their start date, last-minute shift cancelations, and no-shows. Automated text messaging makes it easy to keep new and current employees engaged with timely reminders, nudges, and surveys. And if employees have a question, they can ask it and get an instant response 24/7.

2. Reduce offer-to-start date ghosting

Many no-shows result from human error — like when an employee oversleeps or forgets that they were scheduled to work a shift. Sometimes no-shows result from serious emergencies or a simple lack of transportation. By being more curious, employers can get to the bottom of no-show issues and act accordingly. 

One way to reduce these situations is to build out automated and interactive SMS messages that get sent to every employee an hour before their shift. This action not only reminds them of their commitment, but it starts an ongoing conversation with them that they can interact with at any time. If their response is that they won’t be able to make it to work, you can find out why. 

Knowing the answer to this question can expose larger problems and help your organization address the core issue with real data. No-shows will likely still happen, but at a lower rate. When they do, the “I didn’t know I was on the schedule” excuse will hold much less weight. The simple act of using nudges can dramatically change employee behavior.

3. Reduce shift cancelations and short-staffing challenges 

Last-minute cancelations or no-shows are inevitable, but you can create a system where open shifts get quickly covered.

SMS text messaging provides a centralized way to schedule staff shifts and send reminders to ensure attendance. Unlike an email, text messages will actually get read and responded to quickly — which is essential when you need to fill an empty shift ASAP. Imagine being able to reach all available staff via text to inform them about an open shift, and getting it filled immediately via a link included in the text.

4. Automatically support employees 24/7

In a perfect world, your employees would retain all the information you gave them in their training — but that’s just not the world we live in.

Sometimes employees need to reach out for help. When that happens, the best outcomes for employees happen when their questions are answered quickly. But what if they need an answer during a time when there isn’t a supervisor available to help? This becomes a very real issue for second- and third-shift teams when HR support isn’t working. 

That’s where automated SMS texting comes in. 

With SMS, employees needing to find the right HR person for an answer are gone. Instead, they can simply text their questions to your behaviorally intelligent chatbot. In seconds, their answer is delivered immediately. How? There wasn’t a person on the other end relaying the response. Instead, the question and answer had been programmed previously using Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform and delivered via SMS automation.

5. Recognize employees at scale

It’s been a hard year for frontline workers and also for the businesses trying to stay fully staffed. Employee retention is harder now than almost ever before, leading many businesses to look for new ways to deliver their staff positive experiences. 

One way to do this is through SMS text messaging. You can easily reward hard-working employees by texting them anything from gift cards to simple words of affirmation. It’s essential to proactively engage your workers. Find out what matters to them and then tailor communication to match their needs, at scale. The small amount of time and energy that this takes will be substantially less than the time and money it takes to hire a new employee.

Explore Mainstay’s workforce solution

The world is changing, and businesses need to change too. Your frontline workers now expect the same level of support, engagement, and resources as the rest of your staff.

This is an opportunity for your business, not a problem. 

With the right employee engagement platform, you can support your workers in ways that used to be impossible. Schedule your interactive demo today to find out how Mainstay can set your business up with automated SMS texting that makes it easy for you to engage and support your employees at scale.