5 Ways AI-Powered WFM Opens Your Path to the Possible

February 24, 2022

by Michael Spataro

highway with city in the distance

The possibilities of AI and machine learning (ML) have been proven in many industries over the past decade. For example, Tesla has upended the auto industry with affordable, beautiful, self-driving electric vehicles (EVs). We’ve also seen AI and ML bring radical changes to the retail industry.

How AI and ML Are Changing Retail Today

There are several examples of how AI and ML are changing retail stores: virtual fitting rooms where a scanner collects 200,000 body point images of a customer and finds the perfect outfit and accessories. And “Just Walk Out” checkouts where your selections are scanned as you leave the store, and your payment is digitally deducted from your account.

While in-store experiences get a lot of media attention, many innovative changes in workforce management (WFM) also help businesses optimize their labor efficiency and enhance the employee experience. Here are five things that are already possible when you use AI & ML-enhanced WFM today.

#1  Predict Your Future

You can leverage ML-based WFM solutions that use data, including volume drivers, weather, local events, and past behavior, to precisely forecast demand at each of your locations. You can even forecast how many cups of coffee you’ll sell on a cold day, how many snacks you’ll sell on game day, and how that will impact your staffing requirements. And if your demand forecasting models are self-learning, they will continue to improve over time and adapt to changing demand patterns – without human intervention. For instance, a recent Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) Report showed that AI-based demand forecasts increased forecasting accuracy to 95% over three years.

#2  Automate

You can automate more than 55 routine or recurring WFM tasks, such as creating and maintaining schedules, to save time. Imagine all of the strategic sales and employee mentoring your managers could focus on if they never had to deal with the administrative processes of your current WFM solution. Every step of existing WFM processes can be automated – automatically approve time-off requests, completely automate the process of covering for an employee that calls out, eliminate punch exceptions, and more. A recent study, Hour by Hour: Attracting and Retaining Hourly Employees and Their Managers, found that by reducing administrative overhead, hourly-employee managers would spend their time mentoring their teams, interacting with customers, and ultimately increasing sales.

#3  Auto-Optimize Schedules

With AI-driven WFM, you can match business needs with employee preferences. It’s no longer an either-or choice because optimization enables businesses to automatically reach the best possible decision to minimize labor costs with constrained options, such as budget, compliance requirements, and employee preferences to balance employee needs and business demands. For example, a manager can create the perfect schedule in a single click that meets the business needs and makes employees happier.

#4  Empower Employees

With AI-powered WFM, employees get schedule empowerment, meaning they have more control over when and where they work. Employees can use their mobile phones to share their availability and schedule preferences with their managers, access their schedules, swap shifts, and even pick up open shifts at other locations. As a result, they get the flexibility they need to take care of themselves and their families while making store operations more efficient. According to the Forrester TEI Report, these benefits translate to happier employees, more productive managers, and 5% lower attrition rates. It also means employees earn more money by picking up shifts when convenient for them.

And with AI-powered WFM, you can engage with your employees better by using modern communications. For example, employers can offer an easy-to-use, engaging app that improves the employee experience without a massive training effort because it’s right on the employee’s phone, which they use every day. That means they’ll use the app to communicate and collaborate with their store managers and with each other about everything from scheduling and streamlining work processes to improving the customer experience and building culture. Plus, modern clock-aware communication reduces compliance risk. It helps hourly employees connect with each other, their manager, and their employer’s purpose, which is critical for Millennial and Gen Z hourly employees.

#5  Streamline Compliance

By using AI & ML, retailers get the help they need to manage the complexities of labor laws, so their stores’ scheduling and attendance comply with local, state, and federal mandates. It also enables businesses to optimize scheduling and avoid overtime hours. The result is something store managers rarely experience in their jobs: peace of mind.

The Future of WFM Starts Here

Legion’s mission is turning hourly jobs into good jobs. We’re here to help you and other retailers accomplish that, so it’s easier to attract and retain critical frontline employees. It’s not a project; it’s a journey. And we’re with you every step of the way. We’ll help you evolve from crawling to walking to running and outpacing your competitors on this journey as you adopt these new technologies.

Take the Next Step

Please book a meeting and tell us more about your WFM vision. We’d love to discuss the possibilities and show you how your business can benefit from using Legion WFM.