What Businesses Must Do to Prevent Collapses Like Southwest Airlines

After Southwest Airlines canceled two-thirds of its bookings for the holiday season, some reports said the flight disruption was the worst industry meltdown in living memory. With two-thirds of passengers stranded, business leaders have complained that the Southwest mess is a powerful example of how problems with outdated technology can hurt businesses. Businesses like Southwest will need to make big changes if they want to out-compete rivals in 2023, the sources said.

problem explanation

Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software, explains the problem. “The woes we’re seeing at Southwest are just the latest high-profile example of the business challenges posed by weaknesses in the often outdated underlying technology and systems used by today’s big companies,” he told me. “While there are millions of dollars in technology investments and updates, these investments are often made on customer-facing or production systems, not back-office systems, which can have these types of disruptive consequences for business operations. Once exposed These are systemic weaknesses that can take a long time to implement with modern technology solutions designed for rapid response — frustrating customers in the short term and making it difficult for companies to respond quickly.”

Although it was first exposed when organizations found themselves unable to respond to change or communicate with employees during a global pandemic, many organizations still find themselves without the technology they need to avoid business disruption, Morini said. At Southwest, part of the reason for the high number of cancellations was outdated scheduling software and a lack of automated communication tools, he said, adding, “In a large organization, without a consistent communication Provide information to employees who need to interact with customers – both customers and employees are affected by these difficult situations.”

With job stress and workplace mental health issues on the rise, the last thing passengers and airline employees need is more unnecessary stress. “We learned that Southwest employees were unable to reach their own managers and were doing their best to manage customer relationships on-site,” Morini shared with me, acknowledging that while this was an edge case, it was far from the only disruption Examples of leaving employees without the information and tools they need to respond to change. “Employees across industries need employee experience technology, including tools that help them communicate with headquarters and connect with each other to resolve issues faster and be more productive,” he noted. “With an increasingly digitally native workforce, workers struggle to reconcile how their personal experiences and ability to find information, collaborate, and respond differ from their experiences at work.”

Morini noted that with persistent labor shortages and lower barriers to changing jobs in nearly all industries, the balance of power in organizations has shifted toward workers. “Employees have increased expectations of what is important to them from their employer,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s not that companies don’t have the desire to improve or deliver the technology, it’s that based on their current technology solutions, they don’t have the capability to do so.”

Some quick automated solutions

Morini identified technology solutions that could provide features that could be quickly implemented to address employees’ automated communications issues; however, he recommends that companies plan for these people now rather than wait for a crisis to occur. “The challenge organizations must address is ensuring that communications solutions work for frontline or ‘deskless’ employees, who are often the ones called upon during business disruptions and who are also the least served by corporate systems. Considering that there are less than 1 With 83% of first-line and deskless workers not having a corporate email address even in 2023, organizations need to prioritize investing in technology for these workforce groups to prepare for the future Prepare.”

Morini emphasized that when companies don’t implement a communications solution, employees often turn to their own strategies, using unofficial, unsafe and vulnerable third-party apps like WhatsApp and social media to fill the void. “When you consider that these seemingly quick fixes are highly visible to customers, future employees, and don’t support any compliance requirements governing enterprise usage, they have significant downsides,” he said.

Morini cites other ways automation can help workers, such as smart technology such as fatigue management systems that monitor hours worked, tasks performed, breaks and scheduled breaks to flag workers who may be at risk of burnout. The technology, he told me, could automatically send real-time notifications to help employers stay aware of potential employee health issues, especially when people are working overtime.

Why the latest technology is so important

“The latest technology in the workplace is critical to the effective response of companies and their ability to positively impact the employee experience as employees prepare and support them to navigate change,” Morini emphasized. “Supporting change relies heavily on communication and the ability to adapt to the systems that support operations.” He noted that the pressure on businesses is enormous, adding that smart employers are beginning to understand the importance of listening to what employees really want, and investing in technology to automate and improve communication, flexible The importance of sexuality and continued adaptability.

He points out that many companies’ systems were designed more than 20 years ago and often have many manual processes and workarounds that can hinder the ability to adapt quickly and implement change easily. He advises, “Businesses like Southwest that use outdated 1990s scheduling and communications methods must upgrade their operating systems if they want to remain competitive in 2023, and if they want to retain employees in the process. and workforce management technology.”

Impact of the latest technology

Morini noted that the latest technologies can have an immediate, positive impact on both the employee experience at work and the company’s bottom line, adding that today’s workers are demanding more from their employers, and research has repeatedly shown that workers demand more of their schedules. Control and flexibility, which are often listed as more important things than compensation.

Through modern technology, employers are able to recognize and support the individual needs of employees. He gave the example of airline employee scheduling, a complex and complex process that must take into account union rules, federal regulations and more. Technology already exists to automate and optimize scheduling that can adapt to each organization’s needs and provide the scheduling flexibility employees need, he explained, which needs to be adopted to support business needs, ensure compliance and meet workforce needs.

According to Morini, “As more organizations work to connect talent investments to business outcomes, smart workforce technology can support rapid change and a positive employee experience,” suggesting it leads to more positive cultures, higher engagement and higher productivity. Also, it helps to reduce turnover which negatively affects the company financially. He concluded that technology can be a key enabler of every company’s success, but only if employers seize the opportunity to meet the needs of their employees and deliver solutions that make sense for the business.

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