Right now, the best WFM solutions will use elements of AI and machine learning to help with everything from building schedules to improving absence management.
At Quinyx, we’ve been doing various levels of AI for years. It’s not new to us. From advanced forecasting to automatically creating intelligent schedules, AI is already commonplace in workforce management and its use is only going to increase in the future.
But why all the fuss and buzz around AI and workforce management?
It’s simple… AI in workforce management software is exciting because it gives you the power to optimize your business in terms of balancing service levels and costs....and to choose what that optimization looks like.
In challenging times like these, optimization plays a crucial part in any business. So where can you optimize? Where should you optimize? And what does this optimization look like?
Three areas of business optimization
Typically, the businesses we work with want to optimize in three key areas - happiness, performance, and cost.
You can choose where you want to optimize and choose what areas to focus on in direct relation to your KPIs. What you can’t do (yet) is optimized for all areas, all the time. Although we would argue that when optimizing your schedules for employee happiness, you’ll in effect also be optimized for performance and cost.
Happiness is where to optimize if employee engagement is a priority. For example, a schedule optimized for employee happiness can ensure an employee doesn’t work every weekend and has sufficient time off between shifts. The AI in your WFM system will use rules and data to ensure your employees are working shifts and shift patterns which are most likely to keep them happy. The upshot of this is a happy workforce and all the associated benefits this brings, such as improved performance, fewer sick days, and increased productivity.
AI can help you optimize for costs in a number of ways. For example, it can help you reduce your spending on overtime and ensure you always have the minimum staffing levels in place to meet forecasted demand. This means you’ll never be overstaffed and you should always be operating within your budgeted labor costs.
By analyzing data such as historical sales and satisfaction levels, AI in your WFM system can help optimize your performance by making sure you always have more staff working a shift than your demand forecast. This means you’ll have extra staff working who can concentrate more on delivering exceptional service to your customers.
Why you should optimize for happiness
Too often, employee happiness is viewed as a ‘nice to have rather than a necessity. We’d argue this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, you can optimize for costs but let’s say, in doing so, your schedules aren’t fair on employees, fail to consider a work-life balance, are frequently changed at the last minute, and ignore working time directives.
Scheduling in this way is a surefire way to crush staff morale. As a result, not only does happiness and employee engagement plummet, performance suffers too. You might be saving on costs but your employee and customer satisfaction will suffer as a result.
If we flip this around, and you optimize for employee happiness, all of a sudden you’re in a position to reap the benefits happy employees bring.
During the last few years, a shift has occurred among the Millennials and Gen Z's career priorities. Number one on the list is now to have a functional work-life balance. It’s from this shift the real benefits of ‘Happynomics’ stem. Employees with a far better work-life balance (which they get through flexible working) are happier, more engaged, and generate more value for the business.
But why do happy employees matter? Engaging Works stated in their research that the commercial advantages for companies with happy employees include profits and productivity that are 20% higher, lower staff turnover and absence, better customer service and satisfaction, and a range of health and well-being benefits.
In short, if you optimize for happiness, you’re also optimizing for costs and performance. Happy employees are more productive and efficient - keeping costs low - and providing a better service to your customers - keeping performance high.
Of course, the choice of where you optimize is entirely up to you. However, we consistently see those businesses that prioritize employee happiness and wellbeing are the ones who outperform their competitors.
To conclude, a happy workforce means a happy, successful, and more profitable business.