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Automating HR & Payroll for Frontline Workers in Manufacturing Industry

by Arthur Zuckerman

Frontline workers in the manufacturing sector are often neglected, especially in progressing countries like India. However, things are looking better for them with ‘The Great Resignation’ and the global pandemic changing how we work. Contractors and supervisors are partnering with the HR department to provide these employees adequate pay and additional benefits.

As a part of the initiatives to empower the deskless workforce, many companies have implemented HR and payroll software to enhance employee engagement. Such applications often provide the user with an employee self-service, which can be used to access their professional data and other information related to their employment.

Most employee management and HR software nowadays are based on cloud computing architecture, which provides easier accessibility and round-the-clock engagement to employees. The HR department can also access their employee records remotely whenever required, providing access to help everyone stay updated with the company.

Let us take a better look at how companies automate HR & payroll for frontline workers in the manufacturing industry.

Who are categorized as Frontline Workers?

‘Frontline Workers’ are the staff who often face the customers or clients on the field. They usually provide essential services to the public. Frontline staff include healthcare employees, childcare, government employees, public safety, public transport, etc.

In the manufacturing sector, the term ‘frontline workers’ refers to the staff interacting with the machinery to manufacture products for the company. These staff members are often mistreated and are provided with poor working conditions. As they produce and deliver goods and services, they are the backbone of any manufacturing company.

Manufacturing frontline worker includes quality control staff, maintenance technicians, and warehouse workers. They are essential for the success of an organization as they are the primary point of contact for customers.

Requirements of Frontline Staff

Frontline staff are often neglected in the manufacturing industry. As a result, they are typically disinterested in their work and leave their current workplace for better opportunities elsewhere. In order to retain them, it is essential to keep them professionally engaged by providing fair compensation, additional benefits, adequate professional growth and learning opportunities.

Following are some of the most essential requirements of frontline staff:

Good Salaries

Good salaries are an essential requirement for any occupation. The same applies to the manufacturing sector, which is plagued with underpaid employees. Employees are looking for better pay opportunities and workplace environments in this sector. Good salaries also help in improving their lifestyle, while also providing them additional incentive to stay with their company. Hence, a handsome salary will fuel the retention of frontline workers in the manufacturing industry.

Professional Growth

Providing adequate opportunities for professional growth helps the staff understand their relevance in the organization. Realizing the same motivates the team to remain longer since they understand their importance, thereby aligning with the company’s vision. It helps them stay loyal as they know their role in the bigger picture. It also helps the understand that they are valued by their organization and that their company is invested in their welfare. Hence, the manufacturing sector should provide adequate growth opportunities for frontline workers.

Supportive Work Culture

Factory work culture is often hostile towards the frontline workers as they are treated like disposable commodities. The issue is particularly relevant in developing countries, where the labor is cheap as there are many laborers. The HR team should actively develop and maintain a supportive company culture that provides a healthy environment for staff members, thereby nourishing their mental health.

Learning Opportunities

Since frontline workers in the manufacturing sector operate heavy machinery, they should be upskilled periodically to match the technological upgrades. The manufacturing industry is a rapidly changing one since there are many upgrades happening in the sector. It is also witness to multiple technological innovations such as robotics and AI-enabled efficiency-boosting processing. A robust learning and development platform will ensure their upskilling.

Reasons to Engage Frontline Staff

Since we have understood the requirements of the frontline workers, it would be easier for us to appreciate the reasons for engaging them effectively. Employee engagement is essential for hiring and retaining valuable talent, and the same philosophy applies to frontline workers.

Let us look at the most significant reasons to engage the frontline staff:

Improved Customer Satisfaction

It is a well-established fact that satisfied employee creates satisfied customers. Companies that actively promote employee engagement gain staff who are invested in providing excellent customer service. Since these employees are happy with their company and work, they can better care for the customers. Such staff members go the extra mile to flourish the brand image and are comparatively more productive.

Better Work Culture

Engaged employees lead to a better work culture, enhancing your brand as an employer. An improved employer brand leads to a desirable workplace with which people want to be associated. Such brands also gain valuable talent with minimal effort, leading to a cycle of positive employees creating a positive culture and vice versa.

Lowered Turnover Rate

Lowered turnover rate is the direct effect of having an engaging workplace. Employees that remain engaged with their company would love to stay longer with their organization, thereby lessening turnover and saving company resources.

Technology for Frontline Staff

Technology is a crucial forerunner of enhancements in any field, and the same applies to the manufacturing sector. While advanced machinery and robotics-enabled factories have led to a steep improvement in the quality of manufactured goods, the same cannot be said for the staff, which helps with production.

While numerous technologies are available to enhance the employee experience, factory owners rarely take the time and effort to research and find relevant solutions. This has subsequently led to poor working conditions, with many actively disengaging from their organization.

However, times are changing, and with increased awareness, there is a new wave of entrepreneurs bringing in advanced technologies and strategies to provide their frontline staff with the necessary tools and training to undertake their activities efficiently.

Similarly, many are deploying advanced solutions for HR and payroll for frontline workers. Such solutions give the staff improved confidence in their company as their data becomes transparent. Additionally, practical solutions and better working conditions result in better retention.

Various technologies help the frontline staff with their requirements, such as:

  • Onboarding and training software for effectively settling the new hires
  • HRMS software with employee self-service options
  • Daily wages access tools for payroll transparency
  • Learning Management Systems for staying updated with the latest tools
  • Performance management modules for enhanced feedback and reviews
  • Benefits administration systems for improved rewards and recognition
  • Communication platforms for timely notifications and updates.


The digitalization of manufacturing methodologies and the assembly line, as well as the associated learning has become an essential part of the manufacturing sector. Hence, HRs need to keep pace with the changing face of the industry and provide their frontline staff with practical tools to help them stay engaged in their workplace. Similarly, the HRs of the manufacturing industry should utilize numerous tools available to ensure a satisfied and productive workforce. It will lead to engaging employees and, eventually, strengthen an employer’s brand and overall business growth.

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