It’s time to create a digitally empowered, engaged, and enabled frontline workforce.

Across the globe, employees are saying “I quit.” Led by the foodservice, hospitality, and retail industries in what is now known as the Great Resignation; workers and organizations alike have realized that in a post-pandemic world, employers need frontline employees more than their employees need them.

That’s why it’s critical for restaurant operators to think long-term when it comes to their workforce and how they manage them. It’s expensive and resource-intensive to train and onboard new employees; once they’re ready to work, operators need to do everything they can to retain them. This not only helps ensure a return on hiring and training investments, but it also meets the broader goal of completely reframing how we think about hourly-wage workers. If nothing else, the pandemic brought to light a painful truth that frontline workers deal with an incredible amount of stress on a daily basis; often due to factors they can’t control—but also factors organizations can help mitigate. It’s time to make their lives easier, and in return, all the stakeholders—operators, employees, and consumers—win. 

“We’ve seen that happier employees make for a better customer experience,” says Steve Levy, vice president of sales engineering for North America for Quinyx. “Addressing the needs of hourly workers and making sure they have the right tools and processes to be successful is a challenge with the labor shortage—that’s where a robust workforce management platform comes in.” 

Some industry experts predict the labor crisis will continue for as long as two years before things level out, others even longer. Even then, who knows what another COVID variant—or a different unexpected catastrophe—could bring. As a result, balancing short term and long-term forecasting as much as five years into the future is becoming more common.   

“Before artificial intelligence (AI) became prevalent, workforce management systems typically looked at one type of forecasting algorithm averaging across the past six weeks and used that across all locations,” Levy says. “That has totally changed with the power of data processing, AI, and machine learning.”

To forecast labor, Quinyx’s next-generation workforce management platform looks at each individual location and all of its demand drivers, such as items, transactions, foot traffic, and customers in every department, including special events. Then, the platform applies the most accurate AI forecast powered by machine learning.

Operators can now create scientifically-optimized schedules that are 100 percent compliant in an easy way that takes into account employee availability, breaks, overtime, certifications, government regulations, traffic patterns, driving time, and much more to get a well-rounded, holistic view of their labor flow. 

“Running a restaurant gets complicated because typically the front of house and back of house have a specific amount of labor allocated for each,” Levy says. “Realistically, though, companies need the tools to be more nimble, flexible, and efficient. That’s where AI comes into play to help operators take the guesswork out of managing and scheduling a workforce and ensuring they always have the right people, at the right place, at the right time, while always remaining compliant.” 

One of the most important functionalities of the Quinyx platform is its powerful, yet user-friendly interface, which allows operators to quickly and efficiently communicate with frontline workers via a secure mobile app. For example, if a worker calls in sick or is unavailable, the employee who can’t come in for the shift can communicate that to their manager via the app. The manager can then make a data-driven and informed decision as to whether additional help needs to be called in. If so, they can easily push notifications to employees with the same set of skills who are eligible for the shift using predetermined parameters. 

AI takes into account which employees are eligible to work the shift based on training and certifications, who would go into overtime, if any labor or fair work laws would be broken, vaccination requirements, and any other requirements set forth by the business. 

The platform is especially useful for restaurants whose employees might perform different jobs at different pay scales, work between several franchise locations, or require specific certifications. 

“All of this facilitates real-time data driven decisions and makes workers feel empowered,” Levy says. “If you’re an employer that is offering employees their own mobile app with which they can communicate and even calculate how much money they will make from taking a shift, that’s a distinct advantage compared to other companies. It puts power into the hands of the employees, while still meeting customer satisfaction and corporate business objectives.” 

Using the app, employees can also swap shifts, take surveys that gauge how they feel about the organization, and send recognition “badges” to coworkers who’ve done an outstanding job and deserve special attention—a fun way to increase morale and employee engagement. At the corporate level, franchisors or human resources can use survey results and turn them into actionable insights and also select targeted communications to specific groups. 

The pandemic spurred some long overdue changes in the quick-serve restaurant industry, from finally embracing technological solutions to appreciating those who are often paid the least, but do the hardest work. In order to survive in an increasingly competitive landscape, operators need to think differently about frontline workers and deliver a compelling value proposition that addresses their needs. A next-generation, AI-powered workforce management platform can not only increase profits, efficiency, and compliance, it can also help attract and retain the best employees.

“We believe that empowering frontline workers using technology is imperative to business success,” Levy says. “A trained, engaged, informed, and rewarded frontline workforce leads to a more productive and profitable business.” 

Download Quinyx’s latest hospitality report for insights on how to bridge the hospitality labor shortage through employee retention, empowerment, and engagement here.

For more information, check out the Quinyx website.

by Davina van Buren 

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