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Farshad Kheiri, Head of AI and Data Science at Legion – Interview Series

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Farshad Kheiri is the Head of AI and Data Science at Legion Technologies, an industry leader for AI-powered, machine-learning workforce management products. The company uses advanced technology to solve some of the biggest WFM business challenges while creating an employee experience that helps to attract and retain employees.

What initially attracted you to computer science and engineering?

I’m a math and algorithm guy! I learned programming through online courses, as well as some on-campus classes. My background is in electrical engineering, but I have a minor in math, stochastic processes, and probability. I am fascinated by numbers and mathematical proofs and in my leisure time, I read math and geometry.

You recently joined Legion in early 2022; what attracted you to this company?

3 things attracted me to Legion: the company’s strong, intelligent leadership; the current state of the AI platform and the potential innovation that can be applied to it; and the way they help so many people by turning hourly jobs into good jobs.

What specifically is the Legion workforce management platform?

At Legion, our mission is to transform hourly jobs into good jobs. So, we have developed the AI-powered Legion workforce management platform to help optimize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously. It automates more than 55 routine tasks, enabling our customers to reduce scheduling time by 55% and automatically create highly accurate and granular demand forecasts. It also improves employee satisfaction through greater schedule flexibility and control, modern digital communication tools, instant access to earned wages, and performance and rewards designed specifically for the needs of hourly employees and their managers. So, employees get better schedules that more closely match their preferences, as well as modern tools and gig-like flexibility. With Legion WFM, companies can optimize their labor spend, reduce compliance risk, improve manager productivity and reduce attrition.

How does this platform help battle the labor shortage and improve the lives of hourly employees?

The labor shortage has made attracting, motivating, and retaining employees more difficult than ever before. While our latest research highlights that the Great Resignation is beginning to show signs of slowing down, the majority of hourly workers are still deeply dissatisfied with their jobs. To better attract and retain hourly employees, businesses need to invest in workforce incentives and technologies – like the Legion WFM platform – that offer schedule flexibility and control, as well as improve communication and offer instant access to earned wages.

The Legion WFM platform provides hourly employees with critical workplace tools in an easy-to-use app, which increases their likelihood of staying at a company longer. For example:

Legion Automated Scheduling utilizes AI to automatically match business needs with employee preferences to create the perfect schedule. Through optimization techniques, the Legion platform automatically understands forecasted demand, labor model rules, labor law compliance requirements, employee skills, and employee preferences and can generate a schedule in seconds. Legion’s AI-powered scheduling also enables managers to quickly and easily manage schedule changes. The platform will automatically suggest the best-suited employees to fill open shifts based on skills, preferences, compliance factors, and budget constraints. By automatically matching business needs with employee preferences, businesses can optimize their labor costs while employees are able to have a better work-life balance that works around their childcare needs, school, or even additional jobs.

Legion Frontline Communications enables companies to easily offer digital communications options to employees, their managers, and peers – without the compliance risks associated with off-clock access or challenges typically associated with extending email to frontline employees.

Legion Performance and Rewards automatically measures employee performance and computes rewards or infraction points to provide objective measurements of an employee’s daily performance. Managers can effortlessly evaluate and reward high performers, while in-app leaderboards gamify the experience to help drive employee motivation. 

Legion InstantPay allows employers to easily and efficiently provide employees with access to earned wages, as well as the ability to track their earnings in real-time. By offering this feature through the Legion WFM app, which 95% of employees are already using regularly, companies are also able to drive schedule adherence, improved clock in / clock out behavior, and fill shifts faster by showing employees how much they’ll make for an open shift.

Why is demand forecasting and schedule optimization so important?

Demand forecasting is extremely important to efficiently manage the workforce, while also limiting the stress placed on managers to calculate how many workers should be on the schedule for a certain shift. Overstaffing or understaffing shifts can have adverse effects on the company, from hourly employees to the corporate level. Understaffing can lead to morale issues within an organization and lost revenues, while overstaffing can lead to overspending on labor. With AI-based demand forecasting, organizations can automatically create precise demand forecasts for each of their locations instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach. AI-demand forecasts can take into account external factors that could influence demand, such as weather, holidays, or local events, as well as internal events such as in-store promotions. AI-powered demand forecasting is self-learning so forecasts continue to improve even in changing conditions.

Schedule flexibility also plays a significant role in an employee’s decision to accept – or stay at – a job. However, frontline employees aren’t the only ones who are suffering. Managers spend a great deal of their time creating and managing schedules, tasked with administrative tasks that take away from the time they could spend training and developing their team or tending to customers. Offering automated scheduling that enables optimized schedules is paramount for employers to fulfill demand and meet business needs.

What are the different types of machine learning algorithms that are used?

At Legion, we use a broad range of techniques for forecasting, from traditional machine learning to more advanced techniques like active learning. Legion is growing our core product in many different directions and as it grows, we will continue to apply AI in those new areas.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your work at Legion?

Legion has strong core values that are shared by the leadership team and passed on to each employee. Everybody is focused on helping the team succeed – and on helping our customers turn hourly jobs into good jobs.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Legion Technologies.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.