Employers still don’t seem to understand what frontline workers really want or how much help they need to navigate career opportunities at their companies, according to a new survey by McKinsey & Co. and Cara Plus, a division of the nonprofit Cara Collective.
The report, shared exclusively with Forbes, found that employers place too high a premium on “intangible benefits” such as employee recognition, time off and bigger job titles, the last of which ranked among the bottom five priorities for frontline workers but was near the top for surveyed managers.
As Andrew Davis, a partner in McKinsey’s retail practice, explains, “employers do over-index on certain things that don’t matter as much” to hourly workers.
In another example of a disconnect, employers ranked “supportive managers” as the most important aspect for career advancement, while frontline workers ranked it fifth. That could reveal managers’ own presumptions that low-wage workers value the same things they do. In an hourly role with high turnover rates or limited opportunities to interact with managers, the boss's behavior may also reflect the reality that managerial training is less prioritized in frontline settings—or might not be as top of mind.
“The nature of frontline roles tend to be much more production-related,” said Sara Wasserteil, a managing director for Cara Plus. “Oftentimes, the incentives of the manager are [focused on] ‘you’ve got to go do your job’ versus ‘are they checking in on their team.’”
Read the full report here