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The State of the
UK Frontline Workforce
2024 Report


  1.    Where are we now?
  2.     In it for the long haul?
  3.     A decline in wellbeing
  4.     Rising stress levels
  5.     The impact of our ‘always-on’ culture
  6.     The deprioritisation of work-life balance
  7.     Tech advancements: good or bad for frontliners?
  8.     Wrapping up
  9.     Learn more

Six studies later – where are we now?

Quinyx launched its first State of the Frontline Workforce study in early 2020, to discover how deskless employees were feeling about their jobs.

Across industries including retail, hospitality, transport, shipping and warehousing, we wanted to know: did they feel valued? Were they experiencing work-related stress? Were they intending to stay long-term or leave for something better?

Notable initial findings included a lack of flexibility – resulting in low levels of work-life balance - and over a third of employees believing that work was impacting negatively on their mental health.

Over six editions of the report to date, we hoped to see some encouraging changes, particularly in light of wider recognition of work-life balance, following the Covid pandemic.

Sadly, while there have been some positive findings, frontliners continue to feel frustrated and undervalued. The current economic climate remains a contributing factor, as Britons struggle with the ongoing cost of living crisis, and wages that often fall short. In an ideal world, work shouldn’t be adding to feelings of stress and desperation.

Yet our latest statistics indicate that work-related stress levels are at an all-time high, affecting employees’ mental and physical health. As wake-up calls go, it’s a loud one, with a clear message: something needs to change. Businesses can’t run without people, and their wellbeing should be paramount. ‘Health is wealth’, after all.

Can the situation be fixed? Yes. We’ve always believed that small changes – which don’t have to take a lot of time or effort - eventually add up to make a big impact.

Let’s dive into the study to get a clearer picture of the landscape for today’s frontliners, and the actions that can provide an instant boost for both staff and organisations.

Toma Pagojute, CHRO, Quinyx

In it for the long haul?

Almost three quarters of today’s frontline workers (71%) told us they believe they have many other employment opportunities based on their skills. This encouraging stat suggests they are aware of the jobs market and know they possess qualities and experience sought by employers.

However, only 39% said they view their current role as short-term or temporary – indicating loyalty to their company and an intention to ‘stay put'.


  • Gen Z employees (18-24-year-olds) are much more likely to see their current role as short-term or temporary (57%)
  • But just 27% of 35-44-year-olds (the Millennials) - arguably at the peak of their working life and ‘earning power’ - feel the same

Toma’s food for thought 💡

The fact that so many staff intend to stay where they are is great news for employers, who may feel they don’t have to worry so much about recruitment and retention (and all the associated costs).   

Yet as our stats reveal, conditions are far from perfect for the frontline: at best, resulting in many feeling unappreciated; at worst, causing physical and/or mental ill health.

Complacency from bosses, and not addressing issues promptly, will chip away at employee loyalty. Companies may find themselves unable to hang onto their best people, facing the many knock-on effects of understaffing: less efficiency and productivity, poor customer experience and low team morale. 

A decline in wellbeing

Concerningly, around half of UK frontline workers now say their mental and/or physical health has been negatively affected by work, compared to 38% in March 2020 – with retail (50%) and hospitality staff (49%) most likely to be impacted.

Of those, 52% of employees have experienced depression as a result of their jobs, while 50% report suffering from headaches, and 49% burnout.

  •         Women are more likely to be affected than men (50% vs 46%).
  •         54% of 25-34-year-olds have been negatively impacted; this age group is also most likely to experience workplace stress (65% compared to 60% average).
  • 36% of those aged 55+ say they’ve suffered from mental or physical ill health as a result of work – the lowest of all age groups, who are also least likely to experience workplace stress (48%).

Rising stress levels

In 2022, 41% of workers said they experienced stress as a result of understaffing; the following year, 53% reported being stressed at work – 39% due to low pay and the cost of living, while 37% felt the pressure of too few staff.

  •         This year, six out of ten employees (60%) experience workplace stress.
  •         Most respondents (30%) blame their stress on low pay/not being paid enough to cover the cost of living.
  •         16% attribute stress to poor communication from management.

Perhaps surprisingly, a comparison of the report’s global statistics show that UK stress levels are lower than average (66%), with all countries surveyed apart from Denmark and the Netherlands reporting a higher incidence of workplace stress.

The impact of an ‘always-on’ culture

A massive 88% of today’s frontliners say they continue to think about work even when they’ve clocked off for the day (or night) – overturning the common stereotype of deskless employees leaving their jobs behind at the end of every shift.

  •         The majority (41%) say they spend time considering ways to improve their performance or how to help the company.
  •         A similar number (40%) admit to thinking about their stressful working environment – when they’re not in it.
  •         More than a third (36%) say that, out of hours, they think about their low pay.

Our findings indicate that changes in technology and social media usage may be contributing to the prevalence of deskless employees ‘taking work home’.

  •         55% of staff now say that WhatsApp is their primary workplace communication channel for messaging between management and workers, compared to 20% in 2023.

  • In the hospitality sector, WhatsApp usage rises to 75%.

Older workers aged 55+ are least likely to think about work outside of their shifts – they’re also less stressed about work and less likely to report negative impacts on their health. Their usage of WhatsApp (as a primary workplace comms channel) is the lowest of all age groups.

The deprioritisation of work-life balance

In our April/May 2020 study, 29% of respondents told us they’d been offered more flexibility at work as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Two years later, 39% of frontline staff in 2022 said they had no say whatsoever over their schedule, and in 2023, this had risen to 45%. For those working in transport and warehousing, it was 53%.

So where are we now?

  •         56% say they believe their employer would be supportive of them requesting a flexible working arrangement
  •         Yet half of these think the nature of their role would prevent such flexibility. 

Perhaps not the progress we’d hoped for, then – and what’s more, employees themselves now appear to be deprioritising work-life balance as a result of financial pressures.

  •         In 2022, 30% of employees who said they were considering quitting their jobs gave ‘no work-life balance’ as the main reason
  •         In 2024, just 18% said the same – with the majority (40%) now likely to be leaving in search of higher pay.

The latest tech advancements: good or bad for frontliners?

In March 2020, 41% of frontline staff were concerned that automation would negatively impact on their employability. Today, less than one in five (19%) say they feel negative about the future of technology in the context of their work.

  •         Two thirds of employees (66%) who feel positive about the future of tech believe it will help them become more efficient in their jobs.

  • On the flip side, almost three quarters (73%) who feel negative towards tech say they worry about it reducing the number of jobs available.

On the whole, it appears that frontliners have got more comfortable with tech advancements, with 53% of employees using at least two apps or digital tools in their work. 

However, only a quarter (24%) believe their employer provides them with the right tech needed to do their jobs. The majority (72%) would like their bosses to do more when it comes to supplying effective digital tools and apps.

Toma’s food for thought 💡

Technology should always be suited to staff and company needs - ineffective tech will only exacerbate issues.

WhatsApp, for example, is quick and easy, but it’s not appropriate for all messaging, and it perpetuates an ‘always-on’ culture – our findings show the impact of this on mental health. What’s more, employers need to be aware of potential breaches in data protection.

The fact that so many employees feel their companies could be doing more to provide effective tech solutions suggests that so-called ‘shadow IT’ – the use of unauthorised software or devices - could also be an issue for organisations. Staff can end up resorting to shadow tech when they don’t feel approved options are fit-for-purpose, or there are much better alternatives available. Unfortunately, when things go wrong with shadow tech, there can be serious legal implications for companies and employees.

I always recommend a thorough review of all comms channels – there is certainly a place for tech (our apps, for example, can help facilitate greater flexibility and better communication!) but we shouldn’t ignore the value of ‘old-fashioned’ face-to-face chat and discussion either.

Wrapping up

As the cost-of-living crisis continues for many, companies can’t always alleviate employees’ money-related stress. Decent pay and regular wage reviews should be standard, of course, and help employees stay motivated. Yet managers should also be looking at ways to ease the work-related pressures they have greater control over – such as improving communication, providing greater flexibility and ensuring employees feel valued and rewarded.

When asked what would make their current role more attractive, 56% of today’s frontline staff said higher pay, while a more flexible schedule (18%) and greater work-life balance (17%) were both much lower on employee wish-lists.

Having sufficient time to switch off is arguably more important than ever. It’s understandable that workers might prioritise higher pay over everything else in the current climate, but it shouldn’t mean bosses stop looking at ways to provide greater flexibility. It could be as simple as using an app that gives employees more control over their scheduling, or reviewing the company process for requesting time off. Being able to take breaks to protect mental and/or physical health certainly shouldn’t be a ‘nice-to-have’.

Our findings may paint a fairly bleak picture, but we hope they encourage companies to review how they engage with staff. Frontline employees are often the ‘face’ of a brand, fostering customer connection and loyalty; they help get products and services out into the world. And they are an essential part of any business and its success. An initial check-in, to see how frontliners are feeling and to open up dialogue, is likely to be of huge benefit all round.

Download a PDF copy of the Report

Learn what over 11,000 frontline workers in the UK think about their work lives.