Dealing With a Shortage of Bank Tellers

By Mansoor Muhammad on July, 4 2022

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Mansoor Muhammad

Mansoor is a member of the Azimut marketing team and specializes in digital content. When he's not writing about self service, Mansoor spends his time brewing coffee or cycling.

In this blog: We discuss why bank tellers have become so hard to find and how banks can rework their service delivery models to attract and retain good talent.

Banks are facing a new issue; they're struggling to find tellers for their branches to work the cash counters. It's not there's a shortage of labor, but that people just aren't willing to work monotonous jobs anymore.

bank teller counter

No Innovation

For decades, banks have operated in more or less the same way. The last real innovation in the banking industry was Automated Teller Machines or ATMs which ironically only automated one aspect of a teller's job i.e. cash withdrawals.

Today, there are plenty of ATMs all over the globe, but for everything else bank customers still have to go inside a branch and interact with human tellers. Now, the majority of a bank's daily transactions are either deposits or withdrawals. Withdrawals are primarily automated self service transactions but most deposits are still handled by bank tellers.


Cash handling has become an extremely monotonous task that requires no skill and expertise, especially in developing regions. Tellers clock in at 9, process cash and cheque deposits all day long and clock out at 5. This is all they do, 5 days a week and earn a little over minimum wage. According to Business Insider, more than 2/3 bankers are bored with their jobs.

No Enrichment or Satisfaction

With such a monotonous day-to-day, there's barely any learning on the job hence there's barely any prospects of growth from this point. Teller jobs have no enrichment, no growth and lead to very dissatisfied and often depressed employees. This isn't good for organisations as it leads to diminished work ethic, increases chances of human error and increased employee turnover.

unhappy bank employee

No organisation, especially a bank, wants this as it'll lead to additional costs of hiring and retraining and not to mention the ramifications if a teller makes a mistake in cash handling. It also leads to a subpar experience for the banks customers if tellers aren't happy doing their jobs. Wait times and customer processing times also increase leading to an overall worse customer experience.

There are several ways banks can combat this proactively and fix these issues in the short run and long run as well.

Increase Pay & Benefits

The obvious fix for the short run would be to offer tellers a better overall package with a lot of perks. First off, a higher basic salary will help retention and for a while make the employee satisfied as well. Better health coverage and longer vacation days will also go a long way in employee satisfaction.

increasing pay & benefits

However, this is only a short run solution as the job dynamic remains the same with the same monotonous daily tasks of cash handling and check processing. To bring a real change in teller retention, a more lasting change needs to be made.

Universal Teller

A universal teller's job is very dynamic, meaning sure they could do cash handling, but they can also handle more interactive transactions like account openings and customer facing tasks that require a lot more personalisation and that human touch.

universal teller

This really enriches an otherwise monotonous job when you don't have to stand behind a counter all day and you can work the platform, interact with customers, offer personalised services and sell more advanced financial products.

The issue, however, is that when offered this universal teller role, employees never want to go back to their previous responsibilities i.e. traditional teller tasks like cash handling all day long. So then what becomes of the day to day cash and check deposit customers who seek a quick in-and-out banking experience?

Self Service

For day-to-day banking activities, there are several self service kiosks designed specifically for cash handling so they can do deposits, withdrawals and even issue debit cards. Some manufacturers even offer kiosks that are capable of onboarding a new banking customer with full KYC and instant card issuance.

self service station at bank

However, even just adding cash and check deposit kiosks would be enough to separate the day-to-day from the transactions that require human staff and intellect. Since most banks all over the globe already have a large network of ATMs for cash withdrawal, all they need is to automate deposits via CDMs (Cash Deposit Machines).

This means majority of the cash handling workflows will be automated with self service and available 24/7 while the rest will be handled by universal tellers inside bank branches.

Tellers Still Have a Vital Role

Despite the emphasis on technology and self service channels, today's customer still sometimes requires personalised help or guidance. And who better than a teller to administer this service. Tellers are the most experienced with customer facing transactions in banks and they know how to deal with every kind of customer so there's no one better suited for the job.

bank teller human interaction

This means that some kind of teller role will always be necessary in banks, not to perform monotonous cash handling tasks, but to service customers with more complex and personalised needs. This is one advantage traditional banks will always have over online only banks and mobile wallets.

Customer Retention & Experience

After achieving the right balance of self service and physical channels of service delivery, customer retention will rise as customers will have the convenience of self service and the option to step into the branch and request more personalised services also. This omni channel approach is the way to maximise customer experience and in turn retention and loyalty as well.

Excellent customer experience

Especially after the global health crisis, its important to keep your business up and running during lockdowns. Tellers are human and prone to contract illness whereas self service kiosks can keep your operations live without a need to open your physical branch. Gear up before the next wave by contacting our sales teams!

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