Talk to professionals in almost any line of work these days, and they inevitably will mention the challenges they’re facing attracting and retaining workers.

Meat processors are no exception.

An added complication for smaller processors: The post-pandemic job recovery has not been as robust for small businesses, with companies employing 50 or fewer workers saying they’re still figuring out how to address labor shortages and more than half (52%) of all small business owners saying it has gotten more difficult to hire qualified people compared to a year ago.

More important — and often even more challenging — than attracting qualified employees is keeping them on the job. According to the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, studies suggest that employees quit jobs more frequently because of issues with the workplace culture and their relations with other employees, particularly managers or supervisors, than they do because of the nature of the work.

A new survey finds that 40% frontline workers believe management is "out of touch" with their role based on the communications they receive from management. The survey (commissioned by SafetyCulture) sought to uncover the views of American, British and Australian “frontline workers” — individuals who must "physically show up to their job," including workers in manufacturing, logistics, hospitality and retail sectors.

Among the findings:

  • Nearly one-third (32%) of frontline workers don't have time to read or act on management’s communications.
  • 30% said internal communications get in the way of performing their job.
  • 42% said the management communications they receive are often irrelevant and not engaging (43%).
  • Almost half of the frontline workers (49%) can’t "put a face to the name" of most management team members they communicate with.
  • 28% of American frontline workers said there was no go-to communication channel for important updates in their workplace.

These findings aren’t surprising. Between work and their personal/family lives, many people are generally anxious these days and feel pressed to keep their lives in order.  Economic and social disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 shutdowns have aggravated life’s tensions for millions of Americans. While mobile communications technology and social media make keeping in contact easier than literally any time in human history, it can be tough to keep up. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I just don’t get enough email"?

The big takeaway from the survey is that half the respondents basically don’t know who their boss is. Start there. Twenty-plus years of working in an office reinforced to me the value of making it a priority to make the rounds on a regular basis, talking not just with people in your department but in other departments as well. It’s a great way to learn about the people you work with and let them know that you see them and care about their role with the company.