Is waiting on the “bench” in the IT industry frustrating? About the “bench” in the IT industry.

1 December 2022

What exactly is it, and where can you find the word “bench”?

IT professionals, for whom there is no in-house project at the moment, sit on the bench. This may most often happen to a regular or senior developer in a software house. That is for experienced specialists who are worth keeping on staff. A bench is most commonly encountered in a software house or outsourcing company, such as Solveq or Epam.

What causes the “bench”? 

 There are several reasons for a “bench” project. One of them may be the readiness of software house developers to finalize a project with a client. Another is mismanagement within the company. Yet another one might be a conscious decision by the software house. Considering the programmer’s time to work on internal projects, so-called innovations, or new products. Managing a reserve bench is not easy. And only the informed see the real potential.

 “Unfortunately, most organizations do not use the bench as a source of new project innovation and sales. Rather, those on the bench should be treated as a rotating R&D team. In this way together with my “bench” team, within a year we managed to build partnerships with Amazon and Epic Games. This opened the new way to new commercial projects. The key is to find the right projects to pursue and work closely with the sales team and customers. As a result, “the bench” can drive the team’s growth.” – Tomasz Jankowski, Lead developer | Team leader | Full-stack & design.

 What can “bench” mean for developers? On opportunities and threats. 

 The bench does not always mean frustration. Although there are known cases, despite unchanged working hours, where the salary on the bench is reduced to 60%. Who then saves, and who earns millions of euros? However, most companies, with experience and mature processes, treat bench projects as opportunities. Both for the senior developer and the business.

Nowadays, programmers rely on job stability, growth, and market-based compensation. Skillful bench management guarantees something else. Namely, influence. Of course, as it happens in the IT industry, bench planning must be approached very prudently and for the benefit of both parties. Otherwise, the impulse to change jobs will come to programmers sooner rather than later. Usually, at the most inconvenient time for the employer.

If you want to learn how to take advantage of this downtime as an employee or employer – listen to the latest After Hours podcast, which you can find here. Klaudia and Agnieszka from CandidFuture took part in the podcast, presenting the perspective of recruiters.

How to talk to your supervisor when the bench starts to invade?

Rules of bench sitting should be clearly stated. Covering the information about what actions will be taken when such a situation occurs in a software house. People like to know where they stand. Even when they are sitting 😉
The most important thing is an honest conversation and communication of one’s own needs. But for that, you need a culture of honesty and transparency. Without it, honest feedback will never happen. Unfortunately, only a handful of IT companies approach the subject this way.

Bench topic. What can you ask a supervisor at your company?

What is happening? I am on a bench – do I have stable employment? Will the existing financial conditions remain the same? Will the company give me room to grow despite the bench?

It is worthwhile to be guided by facts. Do not forget to directly articulate your objections. You can also think about your strengths. It is also worthwhile to propose something to the employer from yourself. Such an initiative-taking attitude can also do a lot.

Bench. Hot or not?

Said bench does not need to be frustrating. Because even when there is no internal project, time can be spent on training and courses. One of the other options is to get “rented” and hired at a competing company.
Such practices take place in befriended software houses. As a senior developer, you do not need to leave your current company. It comes with additional benefits as when you when change projects, you have opportunities to gain experience in other technologies.
Of course, seniority matters. Among the main concerns of software house programmers is when, despite their seniority, they have the knowledge of a novice mid.

The bench vs the recruitment process. The role of the recruiter.

When hiring a senior developer, you should have a collection of pertinent information to ensure a long and fruitful collaboration. Stable employment, opportunities for advancement, and marketable salaries are among today’s motivators for a job change. It is worth addressing these immediately during interviews. Here lies the recruiter’s steadfastness in receiving key information from the hiring manager. Recruiters – share the information! Because what is the use of being disappointed right after the start of cooperation?

According to various reports, the innovative technology market in Poland is experiencing a shortage of 100,000 to 120,000 IT professionals. According to our community, sitting on the bench results in at least +10 new recruiter contacts on LinkedIn each week!
Let us not give room for conjecture. Let us speak the truth.

About the Authors

Aga Myśliwczyk

- LinkedIn

Her mission is to have an impact on people’s quality of life! On a daily basis, she hires C-level executives and experienced IT professionals. Initiator of the FAIRit program, #KawaNaKlawiatura series, and IT recruiter academy #bezCV. It is just the beginning.