Challenges of a Relaxation Nation

Stress and the avoidance of it can affect every aspect of your business.


You may have heard that Americans work harder, with longer hours and fewer vacations, than employees in other countries. Well, it’s time for a reality check. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average American works only about four hours on any given day, says the Huffington Post, gets eight-plus hours of sleep every night, and is notoriously stress averse.

The Dude, from the Coen brothers’ "The Big Lebowski"

Believe it or not, our increasing laziness is verified and has become a component of business strategy for many successful companies.

From therapeutic butterflies in the airport to streamlined banking, even services once notorious for causing consumer stress have made corrective steps to make their experience more laidback, accessible, and friendly.

Maintaining an efficient, low stress environment is critical to member acquisition and retention but can increase pressure on your staff and your balance sheet if undertaken the wrong way. It all comes down to optimizing interaction without going overboard and creating pushback from members or employees.

As far back as 2008, consumers devoted two-thirds of their day to eating, sleeping, working, and watching TV, according to the New York Times. The part where they deal with “assorted services and businesses” (hairdresser, mechanic, paying the dog walker) took up only six minutes per day. Realistically, financial institutions probably get less than a minute of any day’s potential interaction.

Consumers schedule themselves, so many just want to get in the door, get what they need, and get out. Helping them do this will make their experience more stress-free (and in some ways, likely to be repeated).

On the flip side, that’s not much time to have a conversation, much less properly address their issue, cross-sell new products, identify potential hurdles, and accomplish all the other things a good financial institution must achieve.

Only the most efficient frontline staff can juggle so many items at once, in a short amount of time. (As if being a teller wasn’t hard enough work already!)

Online services are probably the most vital tools in taking pressure off the member facing departments. But don’t neglect the physical branch investments like remote tellers and ATMs, teller cash recycling, digital signage, and even aesthetic branch design that lets visiting members do more (or enjoy doing nothing more) while waiting less.

The branch may never be the place members come to have fun, but it doesn’t have to be just another check on the “To Do list either.


June 28, 2011


  • I do not believe this article from the Huffington Post.