What is a bullpen?
The term bullpen is unofficial in areas where junior employees are grouped into one room. Senior employees graduate to more spacious work arrangements and individual offices. Bullpen seating is common in certain financial areas, especially investment banking and investment management, and lower-level analysts perform similar functions.
- Bullpen is a slang term for open space shared among junior staff.
- Some of the advantages of the bullpen are enhanced friendship and a strong working culture.
- Some drawbacks of bullpen are that privacy and division are compromised.
Understand the bullpen
The idea behind the bullpen seat is that recent hiring classes join the company at about the same time, train together, and then work together to gain experience more quickly. The bullpen seat also acts as an informal status system where employees need to climb their way to gain a more luxurious working environment. You can also refer to the financial term “bull”, which is an investor or trader who is optimistic about the market.
Benefits of the bullpen
Working with a bullpen creates a sense of common purpose, which can increase productivity when staff strive to achieve set performance goals. For example, a bullpen investment banker may receive a bonus if a team meets its earnings goals.
Placing junior staff in the bullpen shows how the company hierarchy works. Junior investment bankers who support the company’s culture may strive to climb the company’s ladder and become the company’s future leaders.
Investment banks may find it easier to manage junior staff with a bullpen. You can perform certain functions from a central location to increase efficiency.
The bullpen allows new employees to discuss each other’s concerns and share resources. For example, if an employee has an onboarding question, instead of contacting the Administration or Human Resources (HR) department, they can ask a nearby colleague.
Disadvantages of bullpen
Senior / Junior Divide
Bullpen can create a culture of “opposing them” between senior and junior investment bankers, which can demoralize junior staff.
Limited development opportunities
Employees trapped in bullpen may have limited opportunities to learn from senior investment bankers and ask questions that help them grow. For example, a bullpen staff member may want to ask senior employees if their dividend investment strategy is suitable for the current market environment.
Sitting staff in a bullpen can create harmful levels of competition for promotion. Bullpen internal conflicts may put junior staff at excessive risk to outperform other colleagues. For example, employees may implement aggressive naked call options strategies to increase their monthly profits. Management can mitigate risk by imposing transaction size limits on bullpen employees.
Lack of privacy
Shared open spaces can jeopardize the privacy of junior staff. It’s difficult to share ideas and strategies because others can easily hear them. Noise levels can also distract or disturb colleagues and customers.
Some critics argue that the bullpen is like a Petri dish, allowing bacteria to grow.