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Revitalising Workforce Planning



It is becoming more and more challenging to find the right person, at the right time who wants to work for you, at the terms and conditions you are willing to offer.  The supply and demand in the labour market is much more in balance than it was a couple of years ago – some might say that employees have the “upper hand” today regarding accepting your employment offer.

At one point in my career the concept of having a strategic workforce plan was the fashionable topic that consultants were writing white papers and discussing with their clients.  Then it went quiet post the financial crisis, as who needed to plan if the labour market had more supply than there was demand.  Now we are moving into a phase where, in many parts of the world, the supply is not sufficient to meet demand.  Strategic workforce planning is making a comeback – but reincarnated.  It is now known as workforce analytics or future of work, or maybe even something else that I missed, or a combination of all of these.  Using a very unscientific process of counting tweets with specific # tags between the first to the fifth of April – the results were

Workforce Planning – 3

Workforce Analytics – 8

Future of Work – 14

And for fun – employee engagement was 19.

My premise is that today, more than ever, businesses need a robust workforce planning process, and workforce planning needs reincarnating to be the heart of every talent management process.  There are three primary reasons why.

1.    The types of labour pools have significantly increased.  There are permanent, casual, part-time, full-time, crowdsourced, contractors, retirees, remote workers, home workers, interns, apprentices and some I am sure I have missed.  Strategic workforce planning should help an organisation determine what types of labour pool(s) are best for the different kinds of work, skills and experiences needed within the organisation.

2.    What is your supply source?  The first question is, do you make your own or do you go out and buy it?  And if you are making your own how do you know the right training and development processes in place to build the talent you need for when you need it?  If you are buying who, do you buy from?  Do you go the traditional recruitment agency route or are you going to crowdsource or other sources of supply for the talent you need?  People Matters had an excellent article on buying or building talent if you want more food for thought.

3.    The compliance and legal framework are globally getting more and more complicated.  Can you use contract labour for that role, for that period, without getting into issues?  Do you have in place contracting mechanisms that attempt to protect your IP from walking out the door when a person leaves?

The strategic discussion around workforce planning is one that needs to be on the leadership agenda.  It is not an HR discussion.  The CHRO can prepare and facilitate the discussion but the business needs to own the strategy, and each business leader needs to be accountable for ensuring that hiring managers are following the strategy when looking for talent.

There are several workforce planning concepts or new ideas a CHRO should consider.  The top ones on my list include: -

•    Managing your alumni pool, especially potential “boomerang” talent

•    Building a leadership pipeline internally, that is fit for purpose within today’s organisations - See Josh Bersin’s article Re-inventing the Career for some more ideas in this area

•    Talent Mobility – how to move employees around the country or the world in a way that is not your traditional “ex-pat” but in a manner that builds a workforce for the future.

To do workforce planning you need data, but workforce planning is not workforce analytics, as it's hard to predict, based on historical data, if you never did something before – such as use crowdsourcing as part of your supply channel for resources. 

Strategic workforce planning should be on every board agenda.

Article written by Mary Sue Rogers

Picture sourced from Perspectives Blog Site

Posted On : 07-04-16

Commented by:  Mary Sue Rogers

David - thanks for the comment and you are spot on when you say a good workforce plan is a competitive advantage

Posted On : 30-04-16

Commented by:  David Hain

MarySue Spot on. Workforce Planning is extremely critical now that contingent workers are a more important aspect of a growing enterprise. In addition to ever changing rules and regulations, acquiring and keeping talent are just more complicated. Workforce analytics are important but that a very broad approach - a strong workforce plan provides for continuity and contingencies so the organization is not reacting to the market but rather evolving to meet their talent needs. I've always considered workforce planning to be one of the most strategic plans that affect all aspects of an organization - at the level of operational and financial planning. A good workforce plan is a competitive advantage when done well.

Posted On : 29-04-16

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