For the second successive quarter, there was a massive drop in HDFC Bank's headcount that came down by over 6,000 to 84,325 owing to increased digitalisation in the March quarter and it expects the trend to continue.
The second largest private lender's senior management hinted this trend of falling staff strength may continue as greater efficiencies set in.
"This is really a function of...What is happening on the digital side. We do believe that with increased digitisation, certain lines of transaction like counters etc actually reduce," deputy managing director Paresh Sukthankar told reporters in Mumbai.
The bank's total headcount came down by 6,096 during the January-March 2017 period - from 90,421 to 84,325 - which was one of the main drivers for the massive improvement in the cost-to-income ratio to 42.4 per cent from 44.9 per cent a year ago.
In the preceding October-December 2016 quarter, the headcount had come down by 4,581 employees, which helped in the cost-to-income ratio improve to 43.8 per cent.
Sukthankar explained that while digital technologies, which helped the bank introduce products like instant personal loans, help reduce reliance on people, network expansion requires additional manpower.
"Natural attrition" leads to drive down the total number of employees as newer hands are not hired as replacements for those who have resigned, he said. "We still believe there is room to continue to go down that path."
It is understood that the bank has an attrition level of 21-22 per cent per year, which is within the industry average.
The bank's staff strength reached a peak in September 2016 at 95,002 employees.
In fiscal 2017, the bank's headcount declined by 3,230 to 84,325, while the same had increased by 10,729 in the previous fiscal.