Your branch workforce management processes should ideally empower your network to maximize sales while controlling labor costs, but this can be easier said than done – especially if your bank still relies on dated technology and processes, like paper schedules and manually assigned float pool employees. It’s nearly impossible to increase revenue if you can’t schedule the right employees for multi-skilled roles. With new patterns in branch traffic, high service expectations from customers, and new regulatory fines for predictive scheduling violations, you may be looking for ways to update your scheduling models and processes to ensure you’re driving revenue, improving efficiency, and increasing employee satisfaction. Sound about right?
If so, let’s talk about what you can do to manage labor in a way that will help drive more sales at your bank branches.
Improve Forecasting and Analytics
With the rise of digital banking and many branches now serving as consulting centers, it’s critical that branch staff have time for customer conversations. Customer service is imperative to convert sales. This requires you (or whoever on your team is responsible for scheduling) to accurately predict staffing needs and recognize both short-term and long-term trends in branch traffic and wait times.
That is impossible to do without the help of technology. People simply can’t see what artificial intelligence (AI) can. So, you will need to apply machine learning models to your forecasting process to help your team easily make sense of past labor forecasts compared to actuals, the impact of weather, and other anomalies that influence staffing needs and ultimately guide decisions. A forecasting solution with AI assistance can drastically improve forecast accuracy and someday even allow you to match employee personas or experiences with those of your employees for a deeper, more useful connection.
Something else to remember: Your forecasts should account for the full workload in branches; you’re not solving just a piece of the puzzle. With a workforce management solution that operates natively alongside activity management, time and attendance, appointment setting and branch execution technology systems, you can ensure your staffing forecasts account for factors like queue levels and wait times, upcoming events or promotions, routine activities like opening and closing procedures, and any variations in actuals versus forecast. As a result, you will able to schedule the right number of people with the right skills in the right place at the right time to efficiently foster customer engagement.
Reduce Friction for Branch Managers
Many banks are struggling with the administrative time that branch managers and field leaders are spending to create and manage schedules. A recent survey found that the average manager spends almost nine hours a week managing schedules - almost a quarter of their time. The more time these leaders have to spend scheduling, the less time they have to focus on other responsibilities in the branch, like engaging with clients and employee coaching and development. If this is a familiar problem, it’s time to look at new workforce management tools because, with the right solution, branch managers can get optimized schedules in a matter of minutes.
What does the right solution look like?
Likely one that uses AI-powered algorithms to autogenerate optimized schedules that account for labor forecasts and budgets. With something like this in play, your branch managers can ensure their branches are adequately staffed for anticipated workload and branch traffic, while balancing colleague availability, skill set and certifications, preferences, and local or national labor rules and regulations. They just need to make small tweaks and revisions to get the final schedule, reducing a process that used to take hours to a matter of minutes. In turn, branch managers can put that time back into training branch colleagues, engaging customers, and driving sales.
Get Buy-In from Branch Colleagues
The scheduling process should also be easy for branch staff; when colleagues are happy with their schedules, they’re more likely to be engaged at work and less likely to call out or seek opportunities elsewhere. Research has shown that unplanned absences can be costly for employers, so getting schedules right and increasing employees’ confidence in the process is key.
Employee self-service tools empower your branch employees to engage with the scheduling process and help branch managers fill open shifts effortlessly. With iOS and Android mobile-first self-service apps, staff can easily view their schedules from their phones, adjust their availability, call in sick or request time off, as well as swap shifts or bid on open shifts at neighboring branches. Branch leaders will still have to approve any changes before they’re finalized and applied, and there will be guardrails in the framework of this self-service tool to ensure business objectives are still met with the right staffing from a skills perspective. However, by giving employees the opportunity to make some adjustments without having to go through their manager for pre-approval, it becomes a win-win for the employee and the bank.
Just make sure the mobile employee self-service function is a native function of the workforce management platform, as this will enable any staffing changes to be automatically incorporated into the schedule. Managers are alerted if any proposed changes would violate labor regulations or branch rules, avoiding penalties or overtime expenses.
In the today’s leanly staffed branch network, there are a number of opportunities to use modern workforce technology to drive revenue, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. I know you’re probably still debating when and how you should upgrade or enhance your workforce tooling to make the most of these opportunities, but I recommend you consider starting this process as soon as possible. Legacy solutions are only going to fall further behind as transactions shift to digital channels and the pressure mounts to optimize branch staffing.
For more insights on what makes a difference to today’s lean branches, check out the recently released Fourth Annual International Branch Banking Employee Survey.