Quantifying the impact of better frontline jobs on business performance

A search of the literature reveals thousands of peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that worthwhile frontline jobs make more satisfied, engaged, and productive workers who contribute directly to greater business profitability and above-market investment returns.

Yet, business leaders lack the tools that would enable them to understand how the behaviors, attitudes, and interactions within their own organizations contribute to these desired worker and business performance outcomes, or to calculate the impact of improving working conditions so they can identify the strategies most likely to be successful.

The goal of this project is to develop a computer simulation that quantifies the link between elevating the workplace experience of frontline workers and superior business results. The goal is to amplify and enhance the value of foundational research into job quality and human capital measures that both improve the worker experience and drive business performance, with a decision-support tool to test and evaluate the likely outcomes of various job-quality scenarios.

A further objective of this pilot project is to demonstrate the value of agent-based simulation (ABS), an innovative approach to human resource analytics that combines behavioral science and computer simulations to quantify the impact of human behaviors, interactions, and attitudes within an organization. This work aims to demonstrate the potential of the ABS approach as a workforce planning tool to support leaders in designing better jobs, with a focus on frontline employees.

Using a selection of research-based job quality models and frameworks, the simulation will embed key performance indicators (KPIs) and job characteristics in an ABS, which should yield two dramatic benefits. First, rather than relying on correlations from past data to estimate the likely impact of various initiatives, the simulation will clarify and quantify the causal relationships that connect job characteristics and corporate outcomes. Second, because the simulation captures causal relationships and simulates the day-to-day activities unfolding over time, it can be used as a predictive tool for quantifying the impact of various what-if scenarios for each organization that uses it.

A web-based demo version of the simulation with a simplified user interface will be shared with the public, allowing users to explore some key scenarios. The web application will support the near-term goals of education and research on the use of agent-based simulation, while demonstrating the ability to quantify the impact of changing job characteristics under a set of representative scenarios. In the long term, the simulation will serve multiple purposes: (1) it will serve as an explanatory tool to demonstrate in a visually compelling, intuitive fashion, the causal relationships between job characteristics and overall organizational performance; (2) it will provide a quantitative assessment of the impact of job conditions and the KPIs specific to each company; (3) it will allow each organization to estimate the beneficial impact of improving specific working conditions and to identify the strategies most likely to be successful.

The project team will create a final presentation and report describing the ABS and its capabilities, including a live demonstration. The team will also create a document, similar in format to a user manual, describing the ABS and its use, and showing some of the results obtained when running the representative scenarios.

Lastly, the team will prepare a technical paper for publication along with conference presentations and social media posts.

Please stop back in early 2024 to learn more about this innovative approach to quantifying the impact of better frontline jobs on business performance. You can also look for updates on LinkedIn that will be posted by the lead researcher, Paolo Gaudiano, along with IRC4HR and its executive director, Jodi Starkman, and you can sign up to receive email updates by providing your or you can receive updates from IRC4HR by providing your name and email address.

Paolo Gaudiano is president of Aleria Research Corporation (ARC), chief scientist of Aleria (a human-centered technology company that measures inclusion in the workplace), adjunct associate professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, and chairman of the annual Diversity & Inclusion Research Conference.

These activities combine Paolo’s decades of experience in business, technology, and academia to transform how people think about diversity and what they do about it, with the ultimate goal of making our society more inclusive and equitable.

Paolo is a Forbes contributor on diversity and inclusion, has written for and been interviewed by several other media outlets, and is a sought-after public speaker—having given hundreds of presentations in the U.S. and abroad, including a TED talk.

He holds degrees in applied mathematics, aerospace engineering, and computational neuroscience, and is the recipient of numerous awards including a Moonshot House Fellowship from the Kravis Center for Social Impact (2019), a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research (1996), and a Neuroscience Fellowship from the Sloan Foundation (1992). He was a tenured faculty member at Boston University, and he taught at Tufts University and CUNY before joining NYU.

With a Master’s in Finance from University of Melbourne (Australia) and a Master’s in Economics from CUNY in New York City, Chibin started her career as a Research Associate at Aleria.  She aims to leverage her expertise in finance, economics, and quantitative analysis to address the issue of inequality in our society. More specifically, she is trying to quantify the impact of diversity and inclusion in corporations by designing agent-based simulation models. Her goal is to use the results of her simulation to promote diversity and inclusion in workplace, entrepreneurship, and academia.

Chibin’s previous projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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