How bench workforce can be converted into assets?
‘Bench’ is a term that we have all heard of very often. In the professional industry, the bench refers to those employees that are a part of a company but who are not currently working on anything for the company. This ‘bench’ could last for some time, from a few weeks to 6 months even, and during that period these employees remain on company rolls and receive their regular salary. At any time, this bench could have people of different calibre. They could be fresh graduates or even senior professionals and managers.
The reason for employees being placed on the bench may vary. Some of the employees could have been a part of a project that ended as the project must have been completed in the services company. Some might not have been apt for a team and some might have had certain issues to deal with. For example, in the product building life cycle, the person concerned might have become limited. Some bigger organisations will have people on the bench at all times.
Whatever said and done, it is clear that being on a bench for too long is not a good thing for both the employee and the company as it is a waste of available resources and it is also a high cost factor. On a bench, employees are underutilised and this would have an impact on the profitability of the company. An average company may not even disclose its bench strength. For an employee, the initial days might seem like fun. They get to do whatever they feel like and what’s more? They get paid. They will soon tire of it and itch to grow as every minute spent on the bench means your growth in the organisation is deterred. Also, in the current times when the economy is going down, any time, whatever little, on the bench could mean that your layoff is soon approaching.
What if this bench time can be altered and turned to your advantage? What if the same workforce on your bench could be an asset to the company?
How do you convert bench force into assets?
Time on the bench could be used for training opportunities. This could be done through online sessions and courses, videos and also knowledge sharing. Some employees could be on the bench due to skill lacking and for such employees this period is an integral one. This time can be used to train them and engage them in short time skill enhancement courses so that they can perform better on the job. For other employees as well, this period can be utilized for higher level training that will help them in growing to be as asset to the company.
At any given point, a company will be in the process of some internal initiatives and projects. The employees on the bench can be utilized to work on these. This could be a win-win for both parties as such work automatically converts these employees into assets.
Short term projects
The interim period where these employees are on the bench can be used by companies to engage them in short term projects. They may not be the perfect fit for these projects, however such assignments give them the much needed engagement and also a different work experience at the end of it. Some may even find such engagements more interesting that their current profiles. A break from routine will also a few employees realise their true calling. This can be done by letting bench employees sign up for such projects or even assigning it to them. Thus, companies can ensure that these employees are also actively aligned to organisational goals through short term projects.
When it comes to bench force in an IT firm, it could be positive as it means immediate execution of projects. For IT clients, a good number on the bench means the capabilities and readiness of prospective replacements to move into important roles in the company as and when needed. A strong bench is equivalent to ready assets for immediate execution. This is crucial for these companies as they always undergo internal transformations and a good bench means not much hiring needs to be done.
The bench employees can be used as a consultancy team that can help the company find solutions to existing issues or even create new systems and processes. By calling it a different name, you not only ensure that they are not idle, but also that their thinking hats are always on. This could give rise to multiple ideas that might work in a total positive transformation in the company.
You might tell me that these are all happening already and ask me what is new? Well, the most important way to convert the bench workforce into assets is this:
Engaging with Progressive Staffing Companies
Companies can positively engage with progressive staffing companies that have multiple clients and geographies. How can this sort of an engagement work? If the talent is good, then they can be converted into assets by sending these people on the bench to other companies in different geographies or to client offices for work. This means that what was otherwise a liability is now an asset to the company. Also, when the company sends employees to clients through a staffing company, these relationships can be converted into long-term business opportunities for the company. This will also increase the exposure of the employees concerned. This can be an HR initiative for the employee.
Companies have to make sure that their bench employees are not idle at any given point. This idling could lead to dire consequences. Companies can work to utilise the bench employees’ time on the bench to create skilled talent for the future by turning them into assets with a mutually beneficial arrangement.