Omnix Staff Scheduler™ Helps Trim $150,000 in Costs
Pen Air Federal Credit Union, Pensacola, Florida
$1.3 billion, 100,000 members
350 employees, 15 branches
Deploying FMSI’s Omnix Staff Scheduler™ software in two branches in the first stage of a phased rollout, Pen Air Federal Credit Union trimmed 6½ staff positions, for an annualized savings of $150,000—all through attrition and more efficient scheduling of part-time staff.
“It’s important to make staff cutbacks through attrition whenever possible, which is well received by our team and doesn’t hurt the culture,” says Angie Betts, Senior Vice President/Chief Member Officer. “As openings come up, we now have the data to assess whether we fill those positions. We look at every open position to determine if it will be filled or replaced with a part-time position.”
“Our goal is to manage staffing more efficiently, and this data provides a powerful tool to do that,” Betts adds.
Unlike many other financial institutions, Pen Air has not seen an overall decline in branch traffic. However, utilization across its brick-and-mortar network varies widely, with two “heavy hitters,” three low-volume facilities, and ten other branches generating a steady volume of transactions.
Betts previously worked with a bank where branch transaction volume was dropping 5 to 7 percent annually, so she has seen firsthand the national trend of declining branch visits. “We’re growing our membership, and branch traffic is holding steady at Pen Air,” she notes.
The credit union is responding to changing member expectations for personal service by implementing a sales and service model that it calls the “Pen Air Experience.” Members are greeted at the door and directed to either a teller or member advisor, depending on the type of assistance they need. Member service staff not currently helping members are on alert to assist the next member who walks through the door.
The shift in emphasis away from processing routine transactions and toward opening new accounts and handling other more complex interactions involves cross-training existing and new employees as universal agents, or in Pen Air’s terminology, “member advisors.” Frontline staff trained to take on the full range of member service requests offer much more flexibility in scheduling and staffing, Betts notes.
“This is another decision we made based on the data from the scheduling software,” she says. “For each new opening, we consider the following question: Is it better to fill this position with a teller, a member service rep, or a member advisor?”
About 70 percent of Pen Air’s member advisors are tellers who have been trained and promoted to these positions, but the credit union also trains new employees to take on these more versatile responsibilities. Moving toward the universal agent staffing model has widened the hiring field, Betts says.
“As part of this change, we realigned all of our job descriptions and roles and clearly defined what we expect in each role,” she explains. “For example, we used to require cash handling experience of tellers, but now we’re looking for customer service experience.”
As a result of this shift, Pen Air has expanded its pool of prospective job applicants to include candidates with retail experience and has hired several new employees from outside of financial services.
Training both recent hires and existing employees in this new approach to frontline member service is not a one-time event, Betts notes. “It takes practice, practice, practice—and a lot of coaching.”
Data generated by the FMSI’s Omnix Staff Scheduler™ software has helped Pen Air with several other staffing management changes to improve both member service and operational efficiency, including the decision to cut back extended Friday evening hours (due to low member demand), the increased deployment of part-time staff, and consideration of decreasing the number of hours employees need to work to qualify for full-time benefits.
“Part-time utilization is very important to improve branch staffing efficiency. We are finding that it pays to be open to looking at things a little bit differently,” Betts says. “That includes being open to how we look at the difference between part-time and full-time. For example, if we consider requiring full-time employees to work a minimum of 35 hours to qualify for benefits, that could improve scheduling flexibility.”
This new approach to staffing and scheduling takes time to do it right and is just one of several initiatives under way at Pen Air. The credit union plans to implement the Omnix scheduling tool across all 15 branches by year-end and to train all of its frontline employees as member advisors by late 2017 or early in the following year.
In addition, the credit union is rolling out a new account-opening system in July to streamline the process and reduce redundancies in entering information. A new loan-opening system and Internet and online banking platform upgrade are also scheduled for implementation by year-end 2016.
Alongside all of its other planned improvements, relying on the Omnix Staff Scheduling software has allowed Pen Air to accomplish “our initial goal of becoming more efficient and improving our per-transaction labor costs through natural attrition,” says Angie Crosby, Assistant Vice President/Project Management. “It was never our intention to lay off staff according to FMSI’s analytics. Rather, we use the analytics to now make our hiring decisions.”
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