So, you need to cover more shifts & save more money? Build a brilliant bench team!

Covering blow-outs or new shifts at short notice can be the absolute bane of Controllers and Ops Managers lives. New TPSO magazine Corporate Partners, HireHand have come up with by far the best, most effective solution we have yet seen to this age old issue. We asked them to tell us about it.

Get your bench to cover 80% or more of dropped shifts, with an empowered flexible workforce that saves you money on agency staff.

The importance of building a bench.

The Security industry’s role in maintaining safe workplaces has never been more critical. But, as a result of Covid, individual security guards are likely to drop shifts at the last minute and with greater frequency. Given this, having a flexible reliable bench of relief guards has never been more important. Sorting drops internally (as opposed to using agency staff) is no longer a “nice to have” to improve your margins but is increasingly expected by clients who require consistent support more than ever.. 

Benchmark your bench.

From our research here’s what we know about building a bench in Security:

1. Everyone is doing it. The majority of the infologue top 30 have an established bench,  with some companies also building their own technology to run the process.

2. High coverage is possible. We consider it entirely achievable for most businesses to have 80% of dropped shifts covered by an internal bank of staff.

Breaking down that last 20% we’d then expect 15%-17% of shifts to be covered by external agency staff and the remaining 3-5% to simply go unfilled.

While the best companies will cover 80% of dropped shifts internally, a more typical split for covering dropped shifts is 40% internal workforce, 50% agency or external, with 10% going unfilled. If you’re operating around this level you’re not alone.

What makes a good bench.

Build with intention

1. Know WHERE you want to focus on building up your bench. Pick areas of your business (by contract type or region) that will benefit most. As a guide look for areas where your temp usage is significant.

2. Be clear on WHO makes a good relief guard.  Find top talent that also want the benefits of flexible work. A bench isn’t a line up of second rate substitutes – it’s an opportunity to build a talented flexible workforce that wants or need to be able to work non-standard hours. By empowering your bench with choice over how and when they work you can attract skilled team members that can be dropped into any shift that’s unfilled.

Allowing your bench to share and set their own preferences and availability empowers them to feel part of the process. It also means covering last minute dropped shifts can be done quickly and efficiently with everyone involved knowing they will be alerted for the shifts that need to be covered.

3. HOW you use your bench is important. If you’re not already focusing on more than ‘just filling shifts’ you are most likely missing a trick. Even last minute – matching matters.

While it may be called a ‘bench’ if you think simply in terms of bums on seats you’re missing another opportunity to build the best bench possible. By taking into account the preferences and skills of your workforce you can intelligently ‘match’ available staff to the ‘right shifts’ for them. You can build better teams that work well together, and you can give staff shifts that suit them best.

In our experience flexible work success is the result of highly personalised, preference-rich matching [Which is what we’ve built into our Flexforce app using matching algorithms more akin to a dating app but for a business and its team].

Save significant costs by optimising your bench. Here’s a reminder of what it costs to not use bench staff.

Using external agency staff:

Money: an extra £5 an hour* per team member per shift

Time: extra managerial time to find, agree and onboard an agency worker to your system

Training: extra training time to maintain the standards you need

Staff turnover: when your bank or bench staff on zero hours contracts aren’t getting enough shifts they tend to look elsewhere more often.

Using your own full time workforce:

Money: a £2 – £5 an hour* additional cost for any short notice “incentive” or overtime rates.

Time: admin time to find and allocated shifts.

Training: extra training time to maintain the standards you need if S/0 not familiar with site.

Staff turnover: if your bank staff are being overlooked in favour of full time employees on overtime they may look elsewhere more often.

*typical average extra costs

Why bench is best

Money: same hourly rate as your full time workforce

Time: If you’re able to automate and intelligently fill your extra and dropped shifts there can be no extra admin time involved

Training: once trained your own bank don’t need any extra training time and you know all skill sets available

Staff turnover: if your bank staff can get the shifts they want to, when they want them, they are far more likely to remain on your books for longer

In summary:

  • Aim for 80% of your dropped shifts to be filled by your own bench
  • Remember it’s money, time, training and staff turnover that will be affected by using agency staff
  • Value your bench – they are your flexible fast response team (not ‘subs’)

More about how HireHand’s “FlexForce” works.

For you:

Flexforce is online software which allows you to create your own flexible pools of workers using our website. You can book in shifts to be filled, tailor matching preferences and track shifts completed with time and attendance from a simple admin screen. There’s also no need for new contracts if you’re using your current bank team to set up a really effective bench.

For your team:

A mobile app gives your workers the ability to share their weekly availability and preferences for example their ideal hours to work and notice time they need for attending a shift. In the app they will receive notifications via automatic instant messaging and be able to choose to accept or decline shifts offered to them with one tap.