Blog Post | ,

America’s Top 2 Employers are Publicly Refocusing on Their Frontline Employees – Is Your Company?

Dan Johnston

June 1, 2021

In 2021, employers are facing the most strained market for supply chain talent that they’ve ever seen. If you’re responsible for hiring and retaining frontline workers, this isn’t news to you. You’ve been facing this problem for the past several years, but COVID-19 and its ramifications have made it even more challenging.

walmart and amazon logos

More than likely, you’re competing with big companies like Amazon and Walmart for local talent. In the last couple months, America’s top two employers (by employee count) have publicly focused their communication on their frontline employees. It’s hard to know how much of their rhetoric has already been put into practice, however, their public focus on frontline employees is clear.

To compete in today’s market, you’ll need to put your frontline employees front and center too. That means observing what Amazon and Walmart are doing, but it also means developing a strategy for what you can do to remain competitive. In this article, we’ll share how Amazon and Walmart are currently talking about frontline employees, as well as share some ideas on what your company can do to compete with these two giants.

What Amazon Is Doing

Amazon’s 2020 Letter to Shareholders focused on employees more than ever before. In this letter, the company introduced its vision to be the Earth’s Best Employer, as well as the Earth’s Safest Place to Work.

This lofty vision has a tangible goal: Amazon hopes that all of its employees would recommend working at the company to a friend or family member.

“If we want to be Earth’s Best Employer, we shouldn’t settle for 94% of employees saying they would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work,” wrote CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos. “We have to aim for 100%. And we’ll do that by continuing to lead on wages, on benefits, on upskilling opportunities, and in other ways that we will figure out over time.”

Amazon is focused on hiring more than ever. To meet the surging demand of online shopping, Amazon announced the hiring of an additional 100,000 employees.

What Walmart Is Doing

In Walmart’s recent earnings summary, associates were mentioned a whopping 10 times. Here are a few quotes from that summary:

  • “We continue to be grateful to all of our associates for their dedication to serving others.”
  • “It all starts with our associates and their focus on serving our customers and members.”
  • “First, let me just start by saying a big thank you to our associates and our team around the country who helped us deliver the quarter and on the heels of such an interesting year last year, they’ve done a great job improving conditions both in-store and online…”

Walmart is publicly thanking the associates who are working hard to keep the company running, putting them at the front and center of their public message.

What You Can Do to Compete

Amazon and Walmart are putting such an emphasis on their frontline workers in order to keep them around, because hiring in this labor market is incredibly expensive. How can your organization compete? Putting out a public message that you care about your employees is not enough by itself. You have to establish programs for collecting feedback, measure and report on progress, and continue to communicate your focus on employees over and over again.

Establish Programs for Collecting Workforce Feedback at Scale

In order to understand how workers feel about their job, as well as why they leave, you need to establish programs for collecting workforce feedback at scale, while workers are still employed, and when they leave. This means implementing check-ins that capture workforce sentiment in real-time. For example, you might send out a check-in after a worker’s first few days to find out how successful onboarding was. Once you have access to this feedback data, you can begin to measure and report on progress and trends.

Measure and Report Against Progress

When you have access to workforce feedback, you can begin to implement new programs or initiatives and see how they impact metrics like retention, engagement, and overall satisfaction. For example, we’ve had customers who found out that some locations offered a much more robust onboarding process than others, and those that did saw higher employee retention. Once they recognized this trend, they began requiring all facilities to complete the onboarding process while giving them more tools to do so.

Us Technology to Reach New Groups of Candidates

While you may not have the talent acquisition or employer branding budget of an Amazon or Walmart, you can leverage pay-for-success hiring platforms like WorkStep Hire to tap into an industry-specific talent network. Doing so enables your organization to outcompete competitors who are using more traditional channels like job board and temp staffing agencies.

Communicate Focus on Frontline Employees Internally and Externally Over and Over

Just like Amazon and Walmart, you’ll want to communicate your focus on frontline employees over and over again. You’ll want to do so publicly, but you’ll also want to do so internally. Remember: this must be more than lip service. Not only do you need to communicate your focus, but you need to strategically double down on that focus, coming up with ways to create a more engaged, happy and motivated workforce.

Look to Top Employers, Then Chart Your Own Path

Amazon and Walmart offer us much inspiration in how we can communicate our focus on frontline employees. It’s worth examining what the two top employers are doing so that you can adjust how you hire and retain your workers. Using products like WorkStep Hire and WorkStep Retain can help you accelerate both initiatives.

Dan Johnston

Dan Johnston, Co-Founder & CEO |