Frontline Spotlight: Karen Traveler

Frontline Spotlight: Karen Traveler

Our Frontline Spotlight Series highlights members of our Frontline Employee Council. Council members partner with us to better understand the frontline experience and disrupt workplace power dynamics.

Name: Karen Traveler
Place: San Diego, CA
Age: 56
Current Job: Retail

1. Please share a time when one or more of your identities played a role in your career. 

Openly identifying as non-binary and queer and proudly wearing pronoun and progressive pride flag pins has always helped customers and co-workers feel even more comfortable approaching me to discuss these similarities or other things. 

2. Can you share an experience where you felt respected and valued? How did that affect your relationship to the job and the employer? 

When I was a trainer I was told by management that I was their best trainer out of a large number of trainers. Additionally, I was chosen more frequently than others to train co-workers and assist management with work issues. 

3. What builds Trust for you as an employee? What needs to be true in a workplace for you to feel comfortable giving input? 

Building trust looks like being heard in my work place when I offer suggestions.

4. What have you taken away by the partnership/work you’ve done with Talent Rewire to date? 

Talent Rewire is really trying to help frontline employees have a bigger voice with employers. Employers that are attending workshops are really trying to help frontline employees feel they are in a partnership and that they’re not just another number or name. Additionally, employers are realizing they need to be better educated and show more empathy when it comes to the needs of front line worker’s gender identity, sexual orientation and life outside of work.

5. What are the biggest misconceptions you think employers have about frontline employees? 

Employers really don’t think frontline employees contribute as much to the company as they actually do. Also,  employers really believe that the wage they offer is fair when in reality it’s not.

6. What are ways in which employers show you that they value you as a human and as an employee? 

Employers can offer PTO on top of vacation and sick time. Also by offering expanded benefits – transportation stipend, medical, dental and vision – and a bigger insurance package for all three. Employers can also give a larger contribution to cover other monthly costs. A potential way to do this is to partner with other companies to offer frontline employees discounts to things like apartment complexes, e-bike sharing and car dealerships, community and vocational colleges.

7. What’s one thing you would encourage the employers in this room to do with their frontline talent? 

Offer better opportunities for advancement.