Idle staff will cost businesses more than money this holiday season

Heading into the holiday season, many small to medium businesses (SMBs) find they have to either let go of valuable but underworked employees or waste money on idle staff. Why do we accept this as common business practice? One Queensland startup suggests we don’t have to.

Idle staff cost billions of dollars each year in Australia during the holiday period, where, in contract- or project-based industries such as Defence or IT, new contracts tend to slow down as agencies and businesses take a hard-earned break and reset for the New Year.

Employee inactivity costs Australian businesses a huge $305b each year in untapped productivity. A 2014 Chandler MacLeod White Paper on the issue reports that 85% of workers believe they could be 21% more productive on the job, at any time.

Tim Walmsley, CEO of BenchOn, sees first-hand the pain that business owners go through when they to let go of valuable employees, simply because there is a gap in their contract and the business can’t afford to keep them.

“The holiday period in particular can be a painful time when SMB owners are presented with a lose/lose situation. They can accept the cost of keeping staff on during the seasonal downturn, or they have to let them go. Businesses cannot create lasting employment in this situation,” Mr Walmsley said.

“There are many startups making improvements to recruiting and resource management. However for businesses experiencing this cost issue, it‘s like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. The reality is business owners don’t want employee turnover — they want to grow a strong and capable team that creates value for the organisation.

“There is a market for that under-utilised workforce,” says Walmsley. “Research by Manpower Group Talent Shortage, found that 42% of companies struggle to fill contracts due to a lack of available talent.”

“These two seemingly contradictory issues come down to a lack of visibility,” Mr Walmsley said. “The companies with spare capacity can’t find the contracts, and the companies with the contracts can’t find available, high quality staff.”

Small to medium businesses in Australia are the engine for innovation and specialist capability. In order to meet the complex demands of the future, a collaborative industry ecosystem that nurtures and supports SMBs is required.

BenchOn, an innovative QLD startup, is the first company to tackle the issue head on, smoothing the peaks and troughs of the annual business cycle by matching a business’ idle staff to short-term contracts from reputable companies and agencies.

“There are plenty of contracts available for businesses with idle staff, in fact the estimated value of contract work for idle staff within the BenchOn customer portfolio is more than $6.4M, with that amount set to rise as the holiday season approaches,” said Mr Walmsley.

The model works, with a recent SMB saving more than $86,000 in employee-related overhead for the upcoming holiday period. For a small company with less than five employees, saving such a large sum can spell the difference between closing the doors or letting go of a critical part of its workforce.

“With the holiday season looming, it’s up to Australian SMBs to seek out opportunities to keep their valuable staff on, without having them idly sitting on the bench costing a fortune. The work and the talent is out there, it’s up to business owners to shift the status-quo or suffer another expensive holiday period.” Mr Walmsley said.

Contact BenchOn on 13000 Bench or visit us at to find out how to put your workforce to work!

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