The pressure on branch banking has never been greater. Even with the pandemic receding, branch closures and consolidations are still ongoing in an effort to retain profitability. Many customers are shifting toward self-service mobile or online banking channels, either out of convenience or to minimize safety risks during the pandemic. At the same time, out of a need to cut costs, banks are reducing staffing and locations.
However, this doesn’t mean that branches are losing relevance. The majority of checking and savings accounts are opened in a branch, and over half of consumers still prefer a bank with local branches. For higher value transactions, customers still want in-branch visits, often via appointment.
With this in mind, it would benefit bank executives to first consider other avenues to improve profitability. For example, if the goal is to improve productivity so that branches can thrive in an environment with thinner margins, there are ways to more successfully forecast demand and efficiently manage your workforce.
The Power of Multi-Site Scheduling
One excellent, proven approach to optimize labor spend at your branches is multi-site scheduling, which allows associates to work at other branches outside their home locations. This is different from traditional float pools in that it’s not a fixed set of associates working across branches. Rather, the entire employee base is utilized across the region, rotating sites as needed to meet demand.
This approach offers maximum scheduling flexibility while minimizing the risk of single-site shortages. It also reduces the need to spend time and money hiring new staff to fill existing workforce gaps. By spreading out the variability that comes with vacation and sick time over a much larger employee base, you can run leaner on staffing while still meeting or exceeding your current service level. By optimizing how labor is allocated across branch networks, implementing a multi-site scheduling approach has the potential to produce massive cost savings as well.
Plus, this approach improves the work experience for both front-line associates and managers:
- Associates: Multi-site scheduling is an excellent way to boost employee morale. Those employees who want to work extra hours or shift their hours around can now do so with ease. In particular, high-performing associates who could boost performance at other branches can be rewarded with the ability to pick up extra shifts at other locations. Additionally, many associates want the variety of working at different locations, and many live closer to other branches and would like to reduce their commuting time.
- Managers: When an associate has a sudden time off request or takes a sick day, the manager isn’t stuck with a tiny pool of branch associates to fill the gap. Branch managers have all the resources of the regional network, with no single location bearing the brunt of the demand. There is better shift coverage and less chance of being understaffed and unable to deliver a great customer experience. And the scheduling process becomes much simpler for the managers, as they won’t have to scramble to make calls or spend time at their desks sending emails to fill open slots.
Empowering Multi-Site Scheduling with Workforce Management Technology Tools
Intelligent workforce scheduling technologies can simplify the processes involved with multi-site scheduling. These systems offer automated forecasting and can generate schedule recommendations based on worker availability, skill sets needed, employee performance levels, and other key variables. The result? Precise schedules that leverage the entirety of your employee base to optimize staffing across your branch network.
Plus, with many workforce scheduling solutions, managers can oversee the scheduling and budgeting processes from a mobile computer or other handheld device. They don’t need to call or email employees to shift staff schedules anymore, as the system handles the assignments, communications and approvals in one integrated set of automated workflows.
Just know that selection of the best workforce management and optimization solution for your bank will be key for successfully rolling out a multi-site scheduling strategy. Not all apps are created equal. When reviewing technology options, managers should consider only those solutions that provide:
The workforce management software as a service-based subscription. This model facilitates a fast and relatively cost- and risk-free implementation.
- Native support for mobile connectivity. This is key to ensuring that managers and associates can access the solution anywhere, at any time, and receive immediate notifications regarding schedule change requests and open shifts.
- Rules-based configurability. The system must be capable of capturing employee location/timing preferences automatically, for example.
- Granularity levels that reflect your associates’ preferences and your branch banking needs alike.
- Integration capabilities. The solution must be able to feed into payroll, time and attendance, and other related business systems if you want to maximize your return on investment.
- Support for online appointment setting. This is important for banks that want to deliver a high-quality omnichannel experience for customers.
Additionally, when configuring such a system, managers must be able to factor in special criteria, such as:
- capabilities/skills, such as the employee’s product specialties (i.e., wealth counseling, mortgages, basic banking services, etc.).
- performance levels, to ensure you have the right balance of employee experience across each branch.
- associate lifestyle/work preferences (i.e., time of day, week, month they want to work) and commuting/geographical preferences (i.e., 30-minute commute time thresholds, etc.)
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can enable multi-site scheduling with intelligent workforce management technology, visit our website or contact our team. We’ll be happy to discuss the unique staffing challenges at your organization and how optimized multi-site staffing can set you up for success.