I recently read an industry piece on the use of float pools and float pool managers within branch banking that raised a few concerns for me about how banks were managing this challenge in today’s thinly staffed branches. There seems to be gap between how banks approach market-level scheduling and the common best practices and advanced technology used in retail and other industries. I wanted to address some of the challenges banks face using float pools and float pool managers, as well as strategies to overcome them.
Workforce Management and Float Pools
In industries where advanced workforce management is more widely adopted, market-level scheduling is more likely to be managed without float pools, even for highly skilled employees like pharmacists. That’s because the use of a centralized pool of floating staff and regional float managers is really just a workaround – a band-aid fix when workforce management capabilities are lacking. The problem, especially in banking, is that multi-step processes, back and forth communications between staff and float managers, human error, and other challenges can limit the efficiencies otherwise gained using modern workforce tools. The result? Less accurate forecasts, inflexible staffing processes, and greater levels of employee dissatisfaction.
Many of our customers in highly regulated industries have leveraged our modern workforce management capabilities to eliminate these challenges with automation and real-time visibility. Some of the capabilities that make this possible include:
Automated forecasting and scheduling technology that generates recommendations for how to fill a schedule shortage based on colleague availability and skills sets. This facilitates a speedy resolution without guesswork.
Mobile, real-time notifications that identify possible resources and enable you to broadcast the opportunity to qualified employees instantly.
Native iOS or Android applications that allow employees to easily bid and accept additional shifts via their mobile devices, as well as manage availability, preferences, and skills to allow for matching the right employee to the open shift in real time.
An easy-to-use manager dashboard (“MyWork”) that allows these scheduling changes to be managed in real time on a mobile device, while showing the manager all the critical information to make the decisions on the go.
Considering Culture Barriers
I’ve found that many banks are still leveraging regional float pool managers and large float pools because of people, process or internal cultural factors. For example, some bank leaders feel that using float pools helps maintain equitable, full-time schedules. However, float pools are not the only way to schedule at the market level – or preserve cultural values. For example, leveraging technology to automatically assign the float resources, rather that float pool managers, can create full-time equivalent (FTE) savings and eliminate any favoritism. It also empowers front-line workers to have a direct say in the process, rather than go through a middleperson. I realize that choosing to increase part-time staff and offer more flexible work arrangements may not match your current bank culture, but it could open up your workforce to a qualified pool of individuals not interested in full-time work, like working parents or retirees looking for additional opportunities.
Modern workforce management technology supports both a central float pool approach and assigning staff at a market level who are not part of a float team. So, it’s worth considering the benefits and drawbacks to float pool scheduling:
The perception of a home team (floater pool) including corresponding managers that help train and support this team aside from the local branch.
The ability to ensure pay and achievement satisfaction, including separate sales goals, achievement opportunities, perception of advancement, and a routine change.
The local branch team’s perception that floaters are parachuted in.
The lost ability for existing part-time staff not in the pool to pick up hours to fit their needs. They could end up looking elsewhere for full-time roles, which could hurt retention efforts.
The missed opportunity to gain staffing efficiencies and to attract expert non-traditional or working parent employees with more part-time options.
The inability to attract and retain younger workers who are looking for employers with modern scheduling tools via the latest mobile technology or gig-economy style work schedules.
If your bank is considering a new or upgraded workforce management technology, I want to ensure you consider all your options without being constrained by the limitations of previous-generation technology. I’d also encourage you to have a good understanding of the potential benefits and drawbacks of the central floater pool and regional scheduling manager approach, as well as the alternatives.
To see the technology in action and to understand the benefits of automating floating staff assignments, click here to schedule a demo and learn more about how Zebra can help your bank.