As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of festivity is mingled with the hustle and bustle for many frontline workers. These are the individuals who keep the wheels of our businesses turning, often under high pressure and demanding conditions. For businesses, this time leading into the new year is an ideal moment to turn a caring eye towards your frontline workers. 

They probably won’t write up a wishlist for you this holiday season. But based on our close work with this group, here’s what we think they might ask for, including some often-overlooked desires that are crucial for their satisfaction and engagement.


1. Leadership That Inspires: Coaching Over Commanding

Frontline workers are looking for leaders who can coach rather than command. The Harvard Business Review aptly puts it, "An effective manager-as-coach asks questions instead of providing answers, supports employees instead of judging them, and facilitates their development instead of dictating what has to be done." 

Frontline teams flourish under leaders who act as coaches. This approach to leadership empowers your frontline, fosters a positive work environment, encourages personal and professional growth, and builds a team that is resilient, motivated, and engaged.

2. Accessible and Inclusive Communication

While about 82% of the US population owns a smartphone according to Oberlo, this leaves a significant portion without access to such technology. Frontline workers often lack access to the more conventional digital communication tools used in corporate settings, so communication channels that are inclusive and accessible to all are not just a convenience, but a necessity. Employers must ensure that every team member, regardless of their tech accessibility, is kept in the loop and engaged.

Adopting straightforward, universally accessible methods like SMS is crucial for ensuring that every team member is informed, engaged, and feels included. If you need help reaching your entire team, inclusively, check out goHappy’s app-free messaging platform.

3. To Be Heard: The Power of Feedback

A Forbes article on the importance of feedback in the workplace states, "Creating a feedback culture is not only key for your professional growth, but some research finds it is also the most critical driver of positive organizational and financial outcomes." Frontline workers wish for a workplace where their feedback is not only welcomed but also actively sought and valued. 

As we’ve often mentioned, this is in your company’s best interest as well. Frontline employees are the ones interacting with your products, services, and customers every day, so they possess a wealth of practical knowledge and insight into the daily operations of a business. Companies like Hilton, Wendy’s, and Hand & Stone are actively seeking out real-time feedback from their frontline using goHappy’s Feedback module, designed specifically for frontline workers.

4. Career Development Opportunities: A Frontline Priority

McKinsey highlights a crucial point: the voices of frontline employees are often overlooked in discussions about career advancement. However, these workers are ambitious and eager for growth opportunities. "More than 70 percent have applied to career advancement opportunities either with their current employers or with different companies." 

Frontline workers often have ambitions beyond their current roles. Providing opportunities for career development and progression is a highly desired aspect of employment. This could include offering training programs, educational workshops, or clear pathways for advancement within the company. Focus on providing clear and accessible pathways for career progression as a way to improve frontline engagement and retention.

5. A Safe and Healthy Work Environment

The importance of a safe work environment cannot be overstated. Verkada's 2023 Workplace Safety Survey reveals a concerning trend, with "More than half (58%) of frontline workers feeling that the threat of physical harm is on the rise, and 40 percent saying they are more concerned about personal safety at work than they were a year ago." 

Frontline workers desire a work environment where their physical and mental well-being are priorities. This includes not only adhering to safety protocols but also providing support for mental health, including stress management during high-pressure periods.

6. Work-Life Balance and Respect for Personal Time

During the holidays, the lines between work and personal life can often blur, especially for frontline workers. While they are willing to step up during busy times, it's crucial for employers to respect their need for time off, rest, and to attend to family commitments. Recognizing and honoring these boundaries is a testament to an employer's respect for their team's well-being. And those boundaries include texting etiquette! It's not just about managing workloads but also about showing empathy and understanding towards the human aspects of their team members.

7. Recognition & Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and frontline workers are no exception. Recognizing their hard work, especially during the busy holiday season, can significantly boost morale. This recognition can come in various forms - from a simple 'thank you' to employee awards, or even bonuses. Showing appreciation can be simple. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to be meaningful to your team. If you need some simple ideas, we’ve gathered a few.  

The 2023 Holiday Wishlist of frontline workers is about much more than tangible gifts. It's a call for respect, understanding, and genuine care from employers. This holiday season, let's commit to giving our frontline workers what they truly wish for – a workplace that feels like a community, where everyone is valued, heard, and respected.