Peaks and troughs are part of the ride for any business, but a firm based on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia is helping those troughs potentially become valuable money-earners.
Tech provider BenchOn, has re-imagined its “staff sharing portal” to help firms manage their workforces in new ways. Established by the City of Gold Coast, The Gold Coast Business Portal uses the established tech to strengthen the local business community, connecting local firms experiencing high demand for specialist talent with those that have talent to spare.
What is BenchOn’s market offering?
Springing out of the pandemic, the platform links businesses and helps them tap into another organisation’s under-utilised talent, or offer up their own staff, for profit, to help others fill the gaps. Founder and CEO Tim Walmsley said while the company started six years ago, it had hit its stride as massive change tipped traditional workplace operations sideways.
“The foundation of BenchOn is all around workforce management and ensuring that we smooth out the peaks and troughs in business so we can match the workforce capacity to where it’s needed across industry. The collaborative platform system allows businesses to request support or offer out staff if they have capacity,” Walmsley commented.
“The (artificial intelligence) AI algorithm matches companies that need staff with a firm that has a person available at the right time and at the right price, and it works as a business-to-business subcontract, providing the support of a certain skill set for a certain period of time.”
BenchOn sits firmly within the modern-day share economy. It supports more than 3,000 companies from global firms to banks and energy providers, through to small-to-medium businesses and start-ups that share staff resourcing and skill bases to plug short-term needs.
But it is the latest portal by BenchOn, launched this month at its headquarters on the Gold Coast, that is opening up new opportunities by putting a ring around the sharing perimeter and looking inwards. By linking businesses in a geographic area and applying the organisation’s match-making tech, the new Gold Coast portal allows local businesses to reallocate resources as demand changes, all while keeping jobs on the Gold Coast.
How has the portal help struggling businesses?
Walmsley, who operates the business with COO and wife Katie, said BenchOn launched the Gold Coast portal after Covid forced so many local businesses in key industries of tourism and accommodation to shut down, with many fearing they would lose their employees.
“We expected places that shut down during Covid to be the ones going, ‘yes we’ve got people,’ and all the other industries would be snapping them up. But there’s been such big shifts in people moving jobs and moving industries that what we’re finding across the whole of the Gold Coast is that there is just a shortage of people, the recruitment pools have dried up, so we are finding the hidden talent inside businesses and that has value,” Walmsley said.
He said local supply chains and local resourcing became vital to survival for many businesses as Covid restricted global connections. The Gold Coast portal aimed to continue to keep jobs local and keep revenue local, while still connecting with the rest of the BenchOn system.
“It’s a local portal that does link into a national network, so if you can’t find what you need on the Gold Coast, you can then look across the country, or vice-versa which is the true benefit for the Gold Coast portal, because we’re bringing in opportunities from outside the Gold Coast region to benefit Gold Coast businesses,” Walmsley further commented.
Why was a geographical portal?
The benefit of the geographical portal was that it aimed to help to stabilise jobs, bring more work into the region and empower local businesses to keep workers even when they were going through a trough. “Where I see this going is possibly every council region in south-east Queensland having a portal so we can report to these regional councils on the economic activity going on with those regional boundaries and how to keep jobs local,” Walmsley said.
“But then we can also track inter-regional economic connections, such as how many businesses in Ipswich and Logan are doing business with Gold Coast companies and how many workers are transferring to the Gold Coast to do their work,” Walmsley added.
“We want to build a fully digitally-connected eco-system across Queensland, linking the State Government, councils, large corporates and SMEs so that everyone can find what they need, and we can increase the productivity and resilience of the industries across the state.”
He said the portal was a prime example of technology supporting the post pandemic era of people choosing the lifestyle and where they wanted to live, but still wanting to apply their workplace skills, as well as shoring up local supply chains where possible.
“When it comes down to it, the system itself matches supply and demand on a very specific set of criteria and that can be applied across workforce management, across tendering, across volunteering. It’s just a smart, efficient way to do it and the whole purpose of BenchOn is to make it simple and easy to use,” Walmsley further commented.
“We’ve had a very long journey to get here, we’ve pivoted a number of times based on what worked in the market, what industries worked, what features were working and what areas needed us most. I think where we’ve ended up now is exactly where we need to be.”