Effective workforce management is at the center of every financial institution’s drive to optimize delivery of its products and services while operating as cost-efficiently as possible. Automated solutions can bring together the resources to achieve that balance, from navigating complex labor laws to recognizing top performers and putting their talents to work where they are most needed.
A new white paper from Kronos, sets out the “Top Ten Workforce Management Mistakes in Financial Services” and offers recommendations to overcome those pitfalls in a way that improves organizational performance and business results.
A key takeaway is that applying the best practices offered with this list can simultaneously streamline the many processes involved in deploying full- and part-time staff across multiple sites and engage employees in fulfilling routine, but critical, tasks.
Supporting HR management on the move
Advances in digital workforce management tools allow staff and managers to use the same kinds of technology they use in their personal lives—namely, their smartphones—to drive communication, efficiency, and convenience in the workplace. By investing in systems facilitating easy access, employers can equip staff with an easy way to punch in and out, submit timesheets, request leave or time off, and view schedules from their mobile devices.
Mobile access to work schedules, HR information, and other notifications can also benefit financial professionals stationed at multiple branches or calling on existing and prospective customers in their homes and businesses. And managers can more efficiently manage scheduling and staff assignments when they are not tethered to the back office adjusting schedules, reviewing time sheets, and accessing reports on their desktop computers. Whether they are at the main office or traveling from branch to branch, managers can keep pace with updating schedules, reviewing reports, approving time-off requests, and monitoring performance metrics.
Optimizing schedules—and sticking to them
Automated workforce management tools provide a wealth of data to improve branch traffic forecasting and scheduling so that the right people are in the right place at the right time, the white paper notes. Note that “optimized schedules” don’t translate to bare-bones staffing that leads to employee burnout and high turnover, but rather schedules that meets accountholder expectations for prompt service without increasing employee idle time when branch traffic regularly tapers off.
Replacing manual and partially automated systems put in place over time with uniform digital solutions can ease employee and manager frustrations, increase productivity, improve morale, and enhance external service across channels and internal services between employees and among business units.
Planned and unplanned paid time off adds to the complexity of developing and sticking to optimal scheduling. According to a SHRM survey the total direct costs of employee PTO are about 15.4 percent of payroll, which rises above 20 percent with the addition of indirect costs associated with lost productivity. Applying technology to manage PTO can help ensure that absence and leave policies are adhered to consistently and accurately and in a way that reduces the impact on labor costs and productivity. Employees value paid time off and job-protected leave and expect those benefits to be administered fairly and equitably.
Schedules designed to support sales and service goals and reduce idle time only work when employees adhere to them. Automating time and attendance reporting can aid in monitoring compliance and quantifying the impact of new scheduling practices. By evaluating service and productivity metrics through the application of sophisticated analytics, managers can measure the impact of digital workforce systems and scheduling strategies and make changes where indicated.
Ferreting out inefficiencies through integration
Nothing perpetuates unnecessary costs and lost opportunities to improve service and productivity like a hodge-podge of manual and semi-automated HR systems put in place through the years and across various departments. A piecemeal approach to monitoring compliance with ever-changing labor regulations may pile on top of these inefficiencies—and put the financial institution at higher risk of costly violations.
Integration can stem these operational, management, and regulatory weaknesses. “Unified workforce solutions provide a holistic view by integrating HR, time and attendance, scheduling, and more to create a single employee record that is updated in real time,” the white paper suggests. “This visibility allows managers to make more informed business decisions in the moment—from reallocating frontline employees to meet higher than expected demand to adjusting agent schedules in order to avoid unnecessary overtime in the contact center.”
To maximize efficiency gains across the organization, financial institutions should consider workforce solutions that integrate with existing payroll, finance, or ERP systems to connect HR information to other business metrics. A data-driven approach to workforce management supports a proactive approach to both day-to-day operational decision making and long-term strategic planning. How can scheduling practices be fine-tuned to meet sales and service goals cost-effectively? How can onboarding and training be improved to enhance job performance and retention? How will the future labor force differ from today’s employees in terms of range of responsibilities and desirable skills and attributes? The business intelligence hidden in disconnected systems may hold the answers to those crucial questions.
Putting your best staff forward
“When exceptional service really counts, you want to put your strongest performers where they will have the most impact on sales and service,” the white paper emphasizes. “But if you are not tracking the right metrics, you may not know which employees you can count on to consistently drive business goals.”
Performance analytics solutions track useful workforce metrics, such as transactions per staff hour worked or labor costs per transaction in a branch, to measure individual productivity and effectiveness. Managers can apply those insights by scheduling top performers with the right skills where and when they are needed.
Recognizing high-performing staff for their contributions and showcasing their talents prominently may also aid in retention, which in terms increases customer loyalty and fuels growth by wielding a “customer-first” workforce as a key differentiator in a fiercely competitive business sector. Toward that end, another useful element of automated workforce systems is the ability to measure employee satisfaction and aid in identifying what workplace practices and policies deliver on their expectations for a good place to work. This strategy circles back around to employees’ affinity for HR systems powered by state-of-the-art technology.
Managing a diverse financial services workforce is a complex undertaking that can cross the line into service and productivity setbacks when organizations persist in using multiple, siloed manual and semi-automated processes. As the white paper concludes, financial institutions that augment workforce management with advanced tools and integrated systems gain “real-time visibility and data-driven insights to effectively control labor costs, improve productivity, minimize compliance risk, and drive employee engagement.”