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Who Is Considered to Be a Frontline Worker?

Jul 23, 2021
Who Is Considered to Be a Frontline Worker?

It was crucial to discuss the implications the novel coronavirus had on the global workforce. Now that countries are lifting restrictions and reopening businesses, there should be more focus on the critical role employment plays in a post-pandemic world.

The concept of essential workers is not new, but it was put under a microscope in the last few years. When businesses had to shut down offices and transition to working from home, many questions arose. For example, is it feasible for certain employees to work from home? Which roles and what occupations need to be in-person?

Policymakers and state officials can benefit from distinguishing between essential and frontline workers. This came in handy for them when making tough decisions about who should receive vaccines once they were ready for distribution. Also, states needed to allocate resources and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who were considered frontline workers.

There are no downsides to learning more about the workforce. When there’s a better understanding of the issues essential and frontline workers face, more change can be made to accommodate their needs.

Here is some more information about essential and frontline workers, typical frontline jobs, and their roles in society.

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Overview of the Global Workforce

Before industrialization, much of the global workforce was made up of agricultural workers. There was no need to serve high volumes of people — many workers just provided for their families.

With technological advancements, transitioning from farming to factories was necessary. More people were working to produce goods that benefited groups of people rather than just a few.

Industrialization helped develop what the workforce is today. Researchers refer to the growing gaps between low-skilled and high-skilled laborers as “hollowing out” the middle tier of work. This is because there are generally fewer occupations that require an average skillset. In essence, employers seek out either highly skilled workers or lower-skilled workers.

A workforce is made up of people ready, willing, and able to find a job within their country. For example, in the U.S., the workforce consists of all people over 16 years of age who are available to work. Whether or not someone is employed is not a contributing factor. Employed and unemployed people make up a workforce.

The terms “essential” and “frontline” are sometimes used interchangeably to describe workers. Still, there are specific characteristics of members of each group. An essential worker is a term used to describe a wide range of careers, and frontline workers are considered a subcategory.

There are four categories workers can fall under, and it has to do with what they produce: goods, services, technology, and capital. These categories are made up of different occupations that employees can be hired for.

Below is more information regarding frontline workers and what types of jobs fall under this subcategory.

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What Is a Frontline Worker?

Frontline workers are employees in an organization that provide some essential service to the general public. Not all essential workers are considered frontline workers.

The distinction is based on how much interaction they have with people, and whether they’re customers or recipients of the service provided. For example, frontline workers have a higher rate of face-to-face interactions than essential workers, who aren’t necessarily required to work in public-facing roles.

Some essential workers can work from home, while frontline workers usually have to report in-person to complete their job responsibilities. Both essential and frontline workers help society function and contribute to the economic growth of the communities in which they live and serve.

Types of Frontline Jobs

When someone thinks of the most common frontline jobs, jobs in health care are probably the most thought of occupation. This is because there are so many jobs within the health care sector, such as medical imaging professionals, doctors, nurses, nurse assistants, phlebotomists, and nursing home employees.In addition, having access to preventive health care means people are often healthier and can join the workforce and contribute to economic growth.

However, it’s crucial to identify all types of frontline jobs, so people know who makes up most of the country’s workforce. Here is a list of some common occupations where frontline workers work:

  • Health care: Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals that see patients and provide treatment services

  • Education and child care: Teachers, special education professionals, and day care specialists

  • Local and national government: Politicians, elected officials, and federal government workers

  • Food and goods: Food supply chain workers, those in food sales and distribution

  • Public safety: Law enforcement, armed forces, firefighters, and other security workers

  • Transport: Public transportation workers in air, rail, road, and water

  • Utilities, communications, and financial services: Oil, gas, and electrical industries, as well as postal service workers and waste disposal employees

Frontline employees can work in various environments, ranging from grocery stores to out and about in local neighborhoods.

Where Frontline Employees Work

Here are some of the places frontline workers typically perform their duties:

  • Stores

  • Restaurants

  • Beauty salons

  • Driving trucks

  • Hospitals

  • Construction sites

  • Factories

  • Educational institutions

  • Pharmacies

  • Warehouse

Frontline workers are present in many industries across all sectors of the economy.

Quick Facts About Frontline Workers

Frontline workers took over the spotlight in 2020, and they’ll likely be a topic of conversation regarding the workforce and employment rates. There are some interesting facts to learn about frontline workers and how they’re represented.

Here are some of those facts that can help people understand how crucial they are to a functioning society. In addition, it’s the responsibility of industry leaders to be aware of these facts to improve their frontline workforce:

  • Members of the health care industry represent 20% of all frontline workers in the United States.

  • Frontline workers tend to receive lower-than-average wages compared to the overall group of essential workers.

  • 42% of all workers are frontline workers.

  • Frontline workers are typically less educated, with a higher share of high school dropouts.

  • Frontline workers tend to make more through unemployment benefits than working their actual job, meaning wages are generally too low for these workers.

  • Frontline workers sometimes lack insurance benefits and paid sick leave.

In many industries, there are shortcomings on the employee side. For example, some workers are unhappy with their benefit plans or insurance programs, while others find flaws in company procedures. When companies identify and address these gaps, more work can be done to improve on growth areas and retain their top-performing employees.

Benefits of Being a Frontliner

Frontline jobs have both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to their title. In recent months, frontline employees had access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Due to the nature of their work, it was necessary to vaccinate frontline employees because of their proximity to the public. Limiting the spread helps the country move past the pandemic and allows workers to transition back into the office.

Frontline workers received recognition for the work they did during the height of the pandemic. Many people were thankful for the work they performed, whether it was saving lives in a hospital or continuing to bag groceries while risking exposure to the virus

Some companies even produced ads or marketing campaigns to thank frontline workers during the pandemic. For example, on May 6, National Nurses Day, Dunkin Donuts offered all health care workers a free coffee and donut.


Frontline Work in the Future

Addressing the common issues frontline workers face is no simple task. However, industries need to try and improve working conditions for the people who provide these services. In addition, it’s clear that frontline workers play a significant role in economic growth, so investing in their well-being would be beneficial.

If potential workers see that being a frontline worker is a great career opportunity, the workforce would be more diverse and well-rounded, and employee satisfaction would likely improve.

About Author: This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.