Frontline Workers:
Creating a Performance-Driven Culture

With the all the recent talk on challenges organizations face when it comes to their frontline workforce (turnover, reskilling, and empowerment), how organizations manage those on the frontlines and their performance, has come into greater focus. You may encounter these frontline people directly at coffee shops or a customer help line. Or indirectly through the products you currently buy or use. So, their performance matters.


In our recent report, Frontline Workers: Creating a Performance-Driven Culture, sponsored by Centrical, we explored the nuances of performance management for frontline workers and examined the specific practices that organizations use to help them perform better.


This research is a continuation of our recent study, The Makings of Modern Performance Management. After a thorough a literature review of roughly 40 academic and business articles, reports, and book chapters along with a quantitative survey of 623 respondents (over half being frontline workers), we found some interesting insights on culture and frontline workers’ performance:

  • Frontline workers are generally more satisfied with their performance management experience compared to other works, especially when it comes to having clear goals and expectations.
  • Frontline workers feel they have less autonomy and do not feel that their managers enable the same degree of autonomy as their desk and knowledge worker counterparts.
  • Of the three levers that organizations can use to drive employee engagement and organizational performance, culture provides the greatest opportunity.

Overall, we found culture to be a key performance lever for frontline workers, particularly because having a strong culture helps organizations address some of their biggest challenges with this segment of the population.


In fact, a study of blue-collar workers showed that those in supportive organizational cultures – that promote people’s strengths, capabilities, and functioning – performed 27% better than those in unsupportive cultures.1 They were also 89% more innovative and 79% more committed to the organization. This means that organizations can use culture as a lever to better performance, greater innovation, and stronger commitment.


Specifically, an organization’s focus on providing a fair and consistent evaluation process, its ability to provide a broad range of feedback, and its focus on developing skills that will serve individuals the business strategy in the future, all help to mitigate some of the challenges that organizations often face.

Learn more

For more information on each of these practices in high-performing organizations and examples of companies that create a performance-driven culture, we encourage you to read the full report here.

1 “Thriving in the Workplace: Toward its Measurement, Construct Validation, and Theoretical Refinement,” Porath, C. L., Spreitzer, G., Gibson, C., & Garnett, F. S., Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2012.

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