Our Frontline Spotlight Series highlights members of our Frontline Advisory Council. Council members partner with us to better understand the frontline experience and disrupt workplace power dynamics.
Name: Nashell (Shelly) Simpson
Place: Harrisburg, PA
Current Job: Customer Success Specialist
1. Please share a time when one or more of your identities played a role in your career.
I struggled answering this question because I don’t feel like I have a career. I am in my twenties; I have just worked the “job.” I’ve never seen my future or place in corporate America. If I’m being completely honest, I can name times when it felt like my physical, emotional, and mental identities have blocked me from career opportunities I thought I wanted. While trying to answer this question I was frustrated with trying to figure out and list my own identities. Then it dawned on me; I didn’t want to box myself any more than I already have been. I sit here as a plus size Black woman in America and I am here sharing this moment with you all. My identities have always gotten me into the space that I am meant to be in.
2. Can you share an experience where you felt respected and valued? How did that affect your relationship to the job and the employer?
I felt respected, valued, and seen during my time as an assistant. I have many different interests and talents; I get bored easily. I also enjoy my independence. Working with a boss who not only listened to my needs but also observed and trained me on the elements I lacked. I was always treated as a whole person, not just the small fragment that is considered appropriate for work. I am a fan of respect and sincerity; I was beyond loyal to the job, and I am still loyal to my forever boss. How my boss treated me motivated me to not be late, make sure all the work that I needed to do was completed in a timely fashion, looking for more to take one to lessen my boss’s workload. I mean it’s been 6 years since and that has been my favorite job to date.
I want to share that my boss did all of this with intention. She met on a monthly and when needed even weekly basis with the team. She kept notes and took a real interest in our lives. She kept a detail calendar of important dates. Clear and consent intention is key.
3. What builds Trust for you as an employee? What needs to be true in a workplace for you to feel comfortable giving input?
Great pay, sincerity, tangible action, and support.
4. What have you taken away by the partnership/work you’ve done with Talent Rewire to date?
The partnership with Talent Rewire has provided me with new language in how I describe my past employers, what I look for in future business partnerships, and in my personal life as well. I enjoy whenever I see a positive change in the news about major retailers making changes that are directly correlated with the work done by Talent Rewire. I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it.
5. What are the biggest misconceptions you think employers have about frontline employees?
I think the biggest misconception is that frontline employees are unskilled or not valuable. When you hear cashier, stocking, or fry cook jobs commonly described as skill-less jobs, which is far from the truth. It takes an immense amount of skill whenever working with the public. You as an employer should treat the most basic of jobs with respect and dignity by paying a living wage, providing opportunities for growth, engaging with employees to remind them how much you appreciate them.
6. What are ways in which employers show you that they value you as a human and as an employee?
Being paid a living/ competitive wage. Regular opportunities for raises and advancement in the company. Flexible work schedules. Comprehensive benefits including wellness time, vacation time, maternity/paternity leave, 4-day work weeks. Understanding employees as a whole person.
7. What’s one thing you would encourage the employers in this room to do with their frontline talent?
Invest in your frontline employees. Frontline employees’ majority of the time are the voice and representation of the company. You run a successful company when you invest and care for the well-being of your employees on the frontline. So often the people who provide the physical labor of the company are often the most underpaid and unrepresented.