The Back-up Talent

As featured in ascent global of 6th August, 2014. The Times of India – New Delhi.
– Palak Bhatia


Every organisation today keeps a pool of employees that are not involved in any of the current projects and are waiting to be engaged in an opportunity. These professionals, commonly known as `on-the-bench’ employees, consist of talent waiting to be utilized. It is essential that the companies use these people in an efficient manner to build up the knowledge base of the organisation and provide tangible skills to the employees.

Anurag Gupta, COO, Magna Infotech, tells us the advantages of maintaining a bench, “Most organisations keep a `bench’ for a variety of reasons: the anticipation of an upcoming project where the requirement for people is urgent; training of employees who are not performing well and for deployment of freshers.

Though people on-the-bench are non-billable headcounts to the organisation, the concept of `bench’ is created to ensure that there is a pool of employees available at every Is t given point. The bench also ensures that employees can be retooled/re-trained, thus making them employable. However, longer duration on the bench leads to frustration and de-motivation among employees over time. Bench employee compensations are not competitive enough and they remain idle leading to a lot of negativity in the entire eco-system.“

It is important that organisations do not allow these employees to remain idle and make use of the time in a mutually-beneficial manner. What are the ways to productively utilize these on-the-bench resources?
R Mohan, CEO, Career Access lists a few strategies:

CERTIFICATIONS AND TRAINING: Enhance the employee’s profile, capability and positioning with clients; re-skill resources on-the-bench and align them to goals;

BUILDING ASSETS: Automate internal tools, build programs pro-bono, etc;

CAPABILITY: Build competence in `sunrise’ skills, which are emerging in the horizon and are likely to be in demand;

SHADOWING: Learn through observing others in action, which is an effective way of acquiring knowledge, skills, insights and networking within the organisation;

COACHING: Engage with career counselors or mentors within the organisation to proactively understand the business landscape; seek opportunities proactively without waiting for somebody to call;

CONTRIBUTING: Increase their utilization by exploring opportunities to contribute to non-billable but productive work such as pre-sales or other business and organisation requirements (more applicable to experienced employees).

The on-the-bench employees can also put in efforts to improve their prospects and make use of the opportunities that come by. Poonam Bisht, head ­ HR, VivaConnect Pvt Ltd, tells us how, “On-the-bench employees should treat themselves like soldiers sweating at a boot camp; they should train themselves every passing day for `come what may’ situations. The waiting time can be transformed into personal training time by performing mock-up drills, researching new technology, attending problem-solving sessions and deriving alternative solutions to the existing operations. Being a part of a company and having access to resources for learning along with a salary is probably the best privilege any employee could get. So, a word of ad vice to on-the-bench employees learn while you earn!“ Thus, organisations and employees can work in tandem to utilize the latter’s time on-the-bench and create new talent for future ventures.

ascent global

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