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3 reasons why AI is good for your workforce
When we talk about AI and the workforce, it can be greeted with some fears – here are 3 reasons why AI is good for the workforce.
If ever there was a time to work smarter - and use all the possible tools available to optimize your business - then it’s right now. There’s a global labor shortage and across the board costs are spiralling all while consumer expectations are going through the roof.
Wherever you look in pop culture you’ll find fears surrounding AI. Whether it’s the rise of the machines in Terminator or the entire human race being enslaved in The Matrix, sci-fi has helped sow seeds of fear around all things AI.
Which is why when we talk about AI and the workforce it’s easy to be greeted with the same fears. Fears that AI will replace human jobs or AI (especially when it’s used to create schedules) won’t have human empathy or understanding. It’s easy to see where these fears come from but the reality is that AI is good for the workforce.
AI in workforce management means using data from your WFM solution to:
- Make better decisions for your business and employees
- Significantly reduce the time it takes to make these decisions and carry out labor intensive tasks
- Deliver a stronger ROI.
And, right now, AI works best when it works side by side with people.
Our take on it is simple; AI will never fully replace people and won’t (at least not in the immediate, foreseeable future) behave in the same way and with the same nuances as a human.
Sure, if you wanted it to, it could act autonomously. However, in the case of AI in WFM, presenting suggestions in combination with the power of AI and human touch enhances your ability to make the best decisions for your business. As such, the use of AI in workforce management software should be seen as an enhancement - not a replacement of a person.
And, when used in the right way, AI can be a powerful force for good for the workforce - giving you happier employees, sending your employee engagement soaring, and allowing you to reap the benefits of having a workforce on your side (like higher customer satisfaction scores, reduced rates of absenteeism, and a significantly lower churn rate).
Here’s three reasons why AI is good for your workforce:
Schedules optimized for employee happiness
Typically, the businesses we work with want to optimize their schedules in relation to three key areas - happiness, performance and cost. AI works alongside the WFM solution to do this. Optimizing for cost will save your business money but will likely see unhappy employees and unhappy customers. Take a retail store for example - if the store is deliberately understaffed to save money on the wage bill then customers won’t get the best experience or service and staff will be stressed and unhappy.
The opposite to this is optimizing for performance. 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 an exceptional service to your customers. The downside is, it costs you more and if you’re overstaffed your employees will quickly become bored.
Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it’s the final option that’s just right…and that’s when schedules are optimized for employee happiness.
For example, a schedule optimized for employee happiness can ensure an employee doesn’t work more than every weekend through a month or 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 like improved performance, less sick days and better morale.
No more under or over staffingUnder or over staffing is bad news for your business and your employees. Thanks to AI and WFM, under and over staffing are becoming ancient history. The combination of strategic labor planning and hyperlocal forecasting means you’ll always have the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
By being in a position to better match supply and demand - and by having the right contract mix in place - your business will always have exactly what it needs at any given time. What’s more, your employees are happier because they are less stressed because they aren’t understaffed or are less bored because you aren’t overstaffed - plus your customers are also happier because they, ultimately, receive a much better service.
Trying to match your scheduled staff to your forecast demand, without the help of tech, is a near impossible task. You can schedule on a hunch, but scheduling with the help of hyperlocal, AI-powered demand forecasting is better because you can get forecasts based on historical and real-time data for different locations and departments.
Always compliant with labor regulations
Failure to keep up with changing labor laws can quickly create a perfect storm of non-compliance and financial nightmares for your business. Manual solutions to manage your employees or outdated WFM solutions can easily see you break labor laws, leading to compliance issues, lawsuits and the prospect of hefty fines.
By investing in software to help you easily and effectively manage, optimize and accurately forecast your workforce , you not only eliminate the risk of breaching labor laws, you see significant cost savings right across the board.
AI-driven WFM solutions improve compliance with scheduling rules, legislation changes, contractual requirements, union limits, meal breaks, and rest periods. They accurately monitor the skills and certifications required to perform each role and publish schedules well in advance, allowing greater flexibility for employees to manage their time. For all the excitement and positives surrounding advances in AI, there are still elements of cynicism and concern surrounding the technology.
This boils down to two key questions:
- Will AI replace human jobs?
- Will AI be as good as a human at creating schedules?
Our take on this is simple; AI will never fully replace people and won’t (at least not in the immediate, foreseeable future) behave in the same way and with the same nuances as a human. Sure, if you wanted it to, it could act autonomously. However, in the case of AI in WFM, presenting suggestions in combination with the power of AI and human touch enhances your ability to make the best decisions for your business.
As such, the use of AI in workforce management software should be seen as an enhancement - not a replacement of a person.
There are fears that AI in WFM software will be used to exploit workers, keep costs low and increase profit margins to the detriment of employee wellbeing.
And they are fears that are justified.
Certain algorithms don’t take time rules or scheduling fairness into account. In the hands of “bad” managers or companies who don’t prioritize employee wellbeing, schedules will be automatically created that ‘ignore’ staff regulations, have no regard for work life balance, aren’t communicated in advance and don’t handle absence or holiday requests effectively.
However, we believe a happy workforce equals a happy business. That’s why, in the long run, businesses who don’t prioritize employee wellbeing in their scheduling practices will face consequences like higher staff turnover, lower productivity and higher sick-percentages.
The flipside is AI can be used to optimize schedules based on employee happiness. This means taking into account factors like schedule stability, predictability and fairness. Quinyx has for example already a strong set of time rules allowing schedules to be optimized for fairness. Furthermore, we also care about employee opinions regarding their work life and have the ability to collect opinion data which can be used to improve the algorithms for the better.
By powering-up your WFM solution with AI you’ll be able to make better decisions, free up your time, save money, reduce your admin and eradicate errors.
In short, AI will take care of the complex ‘heavy lifting’ for you, giving you the freedom you need to bring the human touch to your business and create a happy workforce.