How To Solve For Dreaded Staff Shortages In Banks
Staffing shortages are a familiar story for most FIs. It might be a Saturday morning and customers and members are piling into your branch. They’ve come after a long week of working to make deposits, ask questions about their financial health, and apply for loans for a new car, but there’s one problem—you’re understaffed. Phones are ringing, people are walking out the door without being seen, your advisors are running behind, and your frontline teller is in dire need of a break. This chaotic scene, caused by staff shortage in banks and credit unions, is far too common across financial institutions today.
In fact, two-thirds of financial institutions see talent as a major concern right now. With the rise of fintechs offering remote work and a highly competitive job market, finding (and hanging onto) the staffing you need can feel almost impossible.
Bank staff shortages can quickly wear down the employees and advisors that are stretched too thin, and cause managers and others in leadership positions to feel like they’re grasping at straws. So what can credit unions and banks with staffing shortages do?
The answer lies in embracing banking software tools, improving staff efficiency, and using data judiciously to plan for your branch’s success.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common pain points associated with bank staff shortage for employees, advisors, and management, then we’ll unpack how they can be improved with the right set of tools.
4 Challenges Plaguing Financial Institution Staff Today
A high-performing frontline staff is crucial to any financial institution’s growth. Amazing customer service leads to customer loyalty and retention, which in turn results in more products sold. But when employees exceed their bandwidth due to a bank staff shortage, the whole FI suffers along with them. These are just a few of the issues your team could be running into when staffing is short:
- Staff Burnout
Staff shortages in banks mean employees and advisors are left with a growing number of customers and members to take care of. This ratio creates a lower-quality experience because customers aren’t given the time and attention they deserve.
These issues also contribute to high employee turnover numbers. In 2022, non-officer position turnover reached 23.4% in the financial industry. Tellers, advisors, and floating staff are burnt out, and retaining talent is getting even trickier.
- No Prep Time
When a branch is understaffed, employees often have no time to prepare for customer conversations, which leads to longer handling times, longer queues, and a rushed experience for the customer or member.
- Constant Schedule Changes
When employees are sparse, those who are available to work face a lot of unpredictability and inflexibility with their schedule. Requests for vacation days may be declined more frequently, and team members have to fill in for sick coworkers more often. To make matters worse, if the branch they’re working for has no appointment scheduling software in place, employees who are filling in have no clear view of the day ahead, leaving them feeling underprepared and overwhelmed.
- Lower quality of service
When staff members are stretched too thin, it becomes even harder to deliver high quality personalized service. And if staff aren’t equipped with a central system to store customer information, this problem is exacerbated.
Staff may need to spend ample time navigating between different tools to find customer details they need—e.g. who the customer or member has spoken to recently, products they already have, and new product recommendations that would be in line with their needs can be difficult to pin down before a visit, especially when time is already short. This type of experience leaves the client feeling slighted and not prioritized.
Empower Staff With Easily Accessible Software Solutions
Employees need the support of their managers, but they also need tools that will ease the burden of being short-staffed. In order to improve morale and help bank staff efficiency, it’s important to provide your employees and advisors with the information they need to succeed.
- Interactive Schedule
Your staff needs a clear view of what their day (and week) will look like. A comprehensive, interactive schedule that includes both pre-scheduled appointments and those from the in-branch queue can make their job so much easier and less stressful. By giving your team more visibility, they’ll be able to take control of their day and do their best work.
- Accessible Context
Along a calendar, your staff needs context into every appointment. By asking customers a few questions when they book appointments through your appointment scheduling tool, you can set advisors up for success. When advisors can see the customer’s reason for their visit and relevant documents in advance, they can provide much better service.
- Centralized Tools
Your staff and advisors’ tools should all be kept in one central digital workspace in order to make it easier to deliver a personalized service to customers. Ideally, functionality like calendars, video banking, appointment scheduling, and customer data should be available and seamlessly integrated with one another.
How can banks improve employee productivity?
If you’re wondering how to improve bank staff efficiency and productivity, you should start by looking at the data. What are your advisor’s average appointment lengths? How many walk-ins does your branch see on average? What do queue wait times look like on a busy day?
By answering questions like these, banks and credit unions can plan ahead for busy days, communicate better with employees, and adjust areas that might be lacking in efficiency.
How Bank Staff Shortages Affect FI Leadership
When a bank or credit union is short-staffed, disgruntled customers and overworked employees aren’t the only ones negatively impacted. Management and operations administrators are often faced with difficult problems as well.
- Scheduling Advisors
Figuring out the best schedule for your advisors can be difficult if you’re not tracking the ongoing activity of each branch. You might have advisors working from the afternoon until the early evening to catch customers and members getting off work—when what your branch really needs is a morning staff available to handle entrepreneurs and stay-at-home parents. This creates a double whammy of understaffing in the morning and overstaffing in the afternoon.
- Underutilizing Floating Staff
Assigning floating team members to improve bank staff efficiency can feel like total guesswork. There’s nothing worse than ending up in an understaffed busy location while floating staff members twiddle their thumbs at the empty branch across town. Without branch-specific data driving decision-making, floating staff members end up totally underutilized during a banking staff shortage.
- Increased Overtime Expenses
Staff shortages in banks also hurt the bottom line of a financial institution. With fewer employees available to work, overtime expenses tend to skyrocket. FI’s often have no choice but to allow non-exempt staff members to exceed 40-hour work weeks, leading to unexpected wage spending.
- More Clerical Errors
Another downside of overworked employees is the inevitability of increased mistakes. Small errors like miscounting a cash deposit, failing to record a transaction, or withdrawing funds from a savings account instead of a checking account can add up quickly and reflect poorly on management. Poor performance leads to uncomfortable administrative warnings and sometimes results in letting go of employees you can’t really afford to lose in the first place.
Staff shortages in banks and credit unions can also lead to managers or administrators feeling overworked. Higher-ups may feel the need to step in and help out on their day off, or fill in for advisors without a knowledge of the customer’s history or background.
If management is busy filling in for other roles, they risk not being there for their employees and neglecting other administrative duties.
Solution: Use Valuable Data to Predict Your Scheduling Needs
Many of the pains caused by staff shortages in banks and credit unions can be alleviated by implementing appointment scheduling software that captures data that helps a fuzzy picture of your operations become clear. With the right data, you can make decisions that make the most of your staff’s limited time. If you’re not currently collecting data about your financial institution, the time to start is now.
Finding out crucial information like how long appointments last, which days of the week are the busiest, and which products are selling will help you ensure your staff are working as efficiently as possible.
- Capture The Right Data
First, managers and administrators should be capturing and analyzing the right data points to drive their decision-making. Coconut Software tracks key metrics like productivity per advisor, average appointment and call times, branch traffic trends, customer satisfaction, and more. Collecting important data will directly impact your ability to improve staff efficiency during an employee shortage.
- Predict Staffing Needs
By looking at branch-specific data on appointment lengths, walk-ins, and busy times, managers can predict staffing needs—even when employees are few and far between. Make informed decisions about where your advisors and other employees are needed on any given day.
- Analyze How Staff Spend Their Time
Before adding new full-time employees to cover an understaffed location, managers can use branch data to analyze how existing staff are using their time. Understanding how staff members spend their time will help you see who is over- or under-utilized.
- Monitor Performance Outcomes
Capturing data points from every customer or member interaction will greatly improve bank staff efficiency. Monitoring products sold, revenue generated, and additional cross-sell or upsell opportunities will inform your staffing decisions as well as your overall goals as a financial institution.
Everybody Wins When You Ease Staffing Pains
While staff shortages in banks and credit unions are hard on employees and administrators, they impact your customers and members as well. Some people only have one day off, or very limited windows to visit a bank or meet with an advisor. When they’re met with hour-long wait times and cancellations, the frustration is palpable.
Financial institutions should do everything they can to prioritize a positive customer experience—especially in such a competitive banking environment. Solving bank staff shortage issues with the right tools is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your FI.
Invest in centralized software like Coconut with crucial data points, and you’ll be able to improve employee efficiency, inform management decisions, and impress customers and members—even amid staffing shortages.