3 Basic Questions to Ask Before You Start Your Workforce Plan

July 11, 2017 | Workday | HCI
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We’ve all felt it – the excitement, and then anxiety, that comes with undertaking a new initiative. The amount of information and resources available on given topic in today’s digital age can at first seem helpful, and quickly leave you feeling ‘where do I start?’

According to research from HCI and Workday, 69% of organizations report that Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is an essential or high –priority, yet only 35% report that they are confident in their strategic workforce planning process. For many starting on a workforce planning journey can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to see why. Strategic Workforce Planning can’t happen in a vacuum, and requires buy-in, collaboration, and support from the rest of the organization in order for successful implementation.

Starting small is the best way to avoid analysis paralysis and the inaction that can result from complexity. A key differentiator between strategic workforce planning and traditional resource planning is alignment to the business strategy. A continuous and iterative process, workforce planning isn’t just a ‘one and done’ exercise, and only 44% of organizations get started on the right foot, by successfully aligning to the business. Without getting this crucial first step correct organizations miss the opportunity to create a plan that will provide the people and skills needed to meet the future needs of the business. Avoid being caught in that trap by first asking and thoroughly answering these questions:

  1. How does my business make money today? Understanding and getting agreement on the current state – beginning with how to define workforce planning is an important part of this stage. The current state analysis should use a common language, and clearly articulate where your organization is creating value today.
  2. Which people are essential to making that money? The immediate answer that may come to mind is ‘everyone!’ The reality is that you must define the scope within your workforce plan; you likely can’t address every role within your organization as part of that plan. Understanding which jobs create the value as ‘critical roles’ versus ‘support roles’ will ensure that you are focusing in the right areas. It’s important to remember to focus on roles and not the actual people within those roles as part of this exercise.
  3. How do we plan to continue making money? The ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment as part of this process can’t be overlooked. General Electric began as a company manufacturing lightbulbs; today they operate in the areas of aviation, healthcare, financial services, medical devices – just to name a few. It’s important to be mindful of the external factors that could impact your business over the next 3-5 years. Stay tuned into the marketplace and industry trends.

Developing a solid workforce plan won’t happen overnight; get started with what you have, and work to continually optimize as you go through the process. While it’s common for HR to own the workforce planning process, partnership and input from cross-functional peers is needed. Common contributors in most organizations, outside of HR include finance, front-line managers, talent acquisition, and executive team members. The ability to bring together these key stakeholders and drive collaboration through formal and informal communication is imperative.

To ensure that your organization has the right people, in the right place, at the right time - you can’t afford to wait. For more information on how to get started sooner, rather than later, watch this on-demand webcast “Build a Strategic Workforce Planning Program for Today, Tomorrow, & the Future of Your Business.”