Target Teller Time

Identifying and managing teller activities can increase productivity.

March 27, 2012

As discussed in the first and second articles of this series, optimizing teller schedules is an assured means of controlling branch operating expenses.

However, one of the key elements for controlling branch operating expenses is identifying the percentage of nonvolume time (nonprocessing hours) and “excess waiting for work” time that occurs in the teller operations and using that information to identify periods of overstaffing.

Without implementing an automated transaction analysis and scheduling system, it’s difficult to achieve a dramatic reduction in excess waiting for work time. Nevertheless, through observation and evaluation, determined and savvy managers can identify problems and implement improvements in their branches.

Volume vs. nonvolume

The total nonvolume hours for each employee in the organization are defined as the difference between paid hours and qualifying processing hours. Credit unions that lack proactive, optimized scheduling programs encourage tellers to find work during slow times.

However, the amount of time tellers spend during these slower periods (nonvolume time) often isn’t measured and, most importantly, can be very costly for an institution.

Teller productivity
This chart represents the difference in nonvolume hours between three groups in the FMSI Workforce Utilization Study.

The FMSI Teller Workforce Utilization Study offers several measures financial institutions can take to reduce nonvolume time and improve workforce utilization.

Those methods include:

• Re-evaluating all teller nonvolume tasks. Consider streamlining or reallocating to teller supervisors some of the teller line ancillary responsibilities that may be taking too much time.

Workforce Utilization Terminology

Terms you will encounter in this article:

• Workforce utilization: A percentage achieved by dividing the total number of teller processing hours by their payroll hours.

• Processing hours: The time in which a teller performs at least one member-facing transaction, measured in 15-minute increments rather than payroll hours. If a teller performs a transaction at 8:09, for example, and then does not process another transaction until 9:57, only 0.5 hours would qualify as processing hours, even though two payroll hours passed.

• Excess waiting for work time: Those periods when too many tellers are scheduled to work for the transaction flow coming through the branch (also referred as nonvolume time and idle time).

• Transactions per hour: Total transaction volume as reported by the core processor, divided by total number of processing hours.

• Labor cost per transaction: Average labor expense per transaction. This metric does not include overhead and other nonpayroll expenses in its calculation.

Focus especially on those tasks that keep tellers away from their primary role of providing front-line transactional service to lobby and drive-through accountholders.

• Hiring more part-time tellers. Using part-time staff is an excellent workforce utilization strategy during peak-volume periods.

The reduction in administrative tasks due to having part-time staff creates a high workforce utilization percentage (90%, on average).

• Incorporating workforce optimization scheduling practices. Hold managers accountable for scheduling the right mix of full- and part-time tellers based on their branches’ specific traffic flow needs.

Branch traffic flow needs can be derived from the core processing system’s historic transaction volume data. Give managers the technological tools for scheduling to need.

When branches are properly staffed, the result is higher productivity, better workforce utilization percentages, and minimized excess waiting for work time.

Proper staffing through detailed workforce analysis also helps pinpoint areas where coaching and additional training will bring even greater productivity improvements.

W. MICHAEL SCOTT is CEO of Financial Management Solutions Inc. in Atlanta. Contact him at 877-887-3022.