Support Frontline Employees with Resource Navigation

Support Frontline Employees with Resource Navigation

Adapted from our Community Conversation with WorkLife Partnership and FirstBank

In 2017, our colleagues at FSG published “Investing in Entry-Level Talent” and shared that the U.S. retail industry lost approximately $9 billion dollars to voluntary, entry-level turnover during the previous year. In the three years since, our work with employers leads us to believe that this staggering figure likely remains unchanged. However, there is some hope. While companies still face high frontline employee turnover, many are beginning to realize the value that these employees contribute to their bottom line.

In response to this realization, companies are beginning to implement practices designed to increase entry-level and frontline employee retention. One such practice with a proven ROI is offering resource navigation to employees.

For our January Community Conversation, Talent Rewire community members had the opportunity to learn about the benefits and best practices of resource navigation from Cindy Williams, COO of WorkLife Partnership, a nonprofit that provides resource navigation services to employers, and Jessica Anson, Director of the Contact Center at FirstBank, one of WorkLife Partnership’s clients. To help explain what sets resource navigation apart from other post-hire supports we’ve compiled some of the highlights from our conversation. We hope you find them useful!

What is resource navigation?
Resource navigation is simply providing a company’s employees with one-on-one support to assist them in navigating life’s challenges (accessing reliable transportation, finding affordable housing, locating childcare, or managing debt) that inevitably arise and can inhibit employees’ engagement and success on the job. WorkLife Partnership provides resource navigation in the form of Resource Navigators – trained individuals who offer flexible, personalized, confidential support and connections to resources.

What’s the different between a Resource Navigator and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
As FirstBank has found, Resource Navigators and EAPs offer complimentary but distinct benefits.  WorkLife Partnership’s employer partners (like FirstBank) are assigned a dedicated Navigator who will regularly spend time on-site building relationships with employees, making the benefit more psychologically and physically accessible. Cindy put it best, “If an employee does call, we want them to know exactly who’s going to be on the other end of the phone.”

Furthermore, WorkLife Navigators are trained to respond to unique challenges faced by frontline employees such as how to afford housing and food, access adequate health insurance coverage, and find behavioral/mental health care; services that often fall out of scope for a traditional EAP.

Why do employers decide to use Resource Navigators?
As Jessica explained:

A lot of our staff were dealing with a lot of things outside of our wheelhouse…such as coworkers’ addiction issues, childcare problems, or a broken car…all of those things were prohibiting people from being able to report to work and be present and engaged in their jobs. As somebody who really cares about the people that they work with you really want to blur professional boundaries.” 

We’ve heard similar challenges from other employers – particularly from frontline supervisors who want to help their colleagues address these types of personal challenges, but aren’t equipped or trained to do so. By having a Resource Navigator available, employees can get the personalized support and resources they need from a professional who is trained and equipped with the know-how to respond to personal challenges.

What is the business impact of Resource Navigation?
WorkLife’s resource navigation supports are producing real, measurable value to businesses. WorkLife found that 93% of their clients’ employees who have met with a Resource Navigator in the last four quarters are still employed.  Furthermore, 67% of WorkLife survey respondents say they are less stressed after working with a Resource Navigator. Employers have found that offering a Resource Navigator not only reduces turnover costs but leads to decreased absences and increased productivity.

As Jessica summarized,

“Working with WorkLife Partnership has made a significant impact on my staff, as well as my management team. Supervisors are able to focus on performance and career development while referring our staff to our navigator, Mary, to help them sort out any obstacles keeping them from being fully present at work. WorkLife Partnership allows us to continue to make our employees’ well-being a priority and improve their capacity to provide each of our customers with the experience FirstBank believes in.”

Interested in Learning More About Resource Navigation?
WorkLife Partnership partners with businesses across the country who are interested in providing resource navigation support to their employees. Additionally, businesses that attract and retain young, entry-level workers could be eligible for a discount on WorkLife’s Resource Navigation service, along with funding to help these workers overcome financial emergencies. And, in Colorado, employers in the retail and hospitality industries are also eligible to receive a discount on the service. For more information visit,