All employees are valuable to a company in some way. However, the degree to which an employee is directly connected to company success may vary. Line employees are more directly tied to the probable success or failure of a company, making them slightly more valuable members of the work team. Because of their increased value as workers, these individuals are often more closely monitored and more carefully recruited.
In uncomplicated terms, line employees are those most directly in charge of the meeting of company goals and objectives. While all employees are, to a certain extent, working towards meeting goals and ensuring company success, line employees are more directly responsible for the attainment of these goals, likely leaving them to bear more weight upon their shoulders.
The term "line employee" is sometimes replaced with "front-line employee." This variation is common because employees most often directly tied to the reaching of company goals are those who work in a face-to-face manner with customers. As these workers complete their jobs on the "front line," they play a major part in determining whether or not the company reaches its objectives.
While it may seem that the individuals more directly responsible for a company's success would be in upper management positions, in truth line employees are most often in lower pay grades. Line workers often work face-to-face with customers, bringing the companies' plans to fruition. For example, if the company plans to adopt a new sales technique, the line worker would be the one to actually put the technique into action. The specific duties of a line worker will vary greatly depending upon the industry in which he works, but in all cases his duties will include actually carrying out company plans and, in almost all cases, working with the public as a representative of the company in question.
The actions of line employees are intimately connected to the success or failure of a company, so making sure that these workers are doing their duties is of paramount importance. Often managers or other individuals in positions of power within a company will complete performance evaluations of line employees, verifying that they are doing their jobs faithfully and working towards the reaching of company goals as they have promised to do. If managers find that line employees aren't fulfilling their duties, sanctions are commonly handed out.