Figure out a few of the headlines in recent times,
“18,000 People On The Bench At Infosys”
“Mahindra Satyam places 500 associates on bench”
Not that this practice is something new, but it has never ceased to riddle me. Moreover, in the current economic downturn, with companies battling it out to maintain their profitability, these headlines sure signal a cause of worry.
I had wanted to write on it for quite sometime, but it was not until that I read this piece by Sramana Mitra who is asking what these 18,000 people are doing (Infosys Headline).
Not sure if I can answer this, since I was lucky enough to be un-benched quite early after joining the job. But, I have had my experiences and the ones I gathered from people around me. And believe me, they are anything but nice.
To begin with, lets visualize it from the employees perspective,
A fresher in most cases is too full of excitement and zeal to excel at his/her first job from day one. To ensure that, the individual goes through the rigorous training sessions with utmost dedication. The onus is to successfully make the transition from student to Corporate.
But, what happens if the employee is not assigned to any meaty (real) work even after months of working?
- The individual keeps at it and goes on expanding his/her skill set in order to be ready when the next project comes by.
- Some Individuals actually start liking the idea of “Getting Paid To Sit and Do nothing”
- Frustration starts creeping in some, and they start detesting the place.
- The employees start considering a switch to a different workplace in the hope that they get to do some real work.
Except the first point here, all others signal a major waste of Talent.
Even with the first one, there is a major issue. The individual with all the learning that he/she has attained will not help build the confidence/ motivation until they are assigned some real work.
After all, what good is all learning/training if not put to use?
I don’t even want to start talking about the kind of trouble it spells for the Employer.
- The bench strength becomes a Non performing Asset in tough times when the organization is struggling to maintain the profitability.
- The employer misses out on real talented people who are being wasted on bench solely because of the reason that they don’t have a real time project experience.
- The above is a Chicken and Egg problem. With all clients asking for experienced resources, the bench until put to real work will never be acceptable.
- All the money that the employer spends in training and grooming the individual goes for a toss if the employee is smart enough to make the switch to another company.
There could be awful lot of reasons that the employers may have to defend their stand on the ever burgeoning bench strength. But, I am sure that the negative ones will outnumber them any day.
Talking about a problem is not going to solve it. I am no trouble shooter/ problem solver to dish out a solution for this god forsaken issue. But then, who is going to stop me from offering my 2 cents :)
- Why not have a team specifically geared towards Product Development and be serious about it. Utilize the bench to work towards creating a product worth selling. That way, it is a win-win. The employee gets the near real time work experience and the organization gets tangible Intellectual Property.
- Why not create corporate accounts on various Freelance sites. Bid For the projects and have the bench strength work on completing those assignments. The bench becomes workable and the revenue flows in.
Not sure but there are some companies utilizing the first point here. But the fact that how many are effectively utilizing the bench strength for that is something I cannot vouch for.
The second one may not be a feasible one given the technical / political / ethical issues linked to them. But, I don’t see why the so called MNC’s should not consider it as an option.
What are your thoughts on the same? Do you think there is a solution to this problem or this ain’t that big a problem itself?
[This post has been written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]