5 Ways to Make Workforce Planning More Agile

November 13, 2018 | Workday | HCI
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White hot competition for talent is putting organizations across the globe to the test. Not only are organizations finding it maddeningly challenging to fill critical positions. They are also losing current employees at the highest rate in 17 years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor the number of workers leaving jobs voluntarily increased to 3.58 million in the month of July of 2018. While this trend will not continue forever, business leaders recognize that talent shortages could do serious harm to their strategic imperatives. A recent survey suggests that 77% of CEO’s believe that availability of talent is a major threat to their organizations.

Strategic workforce planning, if properly executed, can alleviate many of the talent challenges your organization faces. It is crucial, however, to ensure the people, process, and technology involved are strategically aligned and adaptable to change. In this post, we’ll be sharing a few insights and best practices to make strategic workforce planning a success in your organization.

Start with the needs of your stakeholders.

People respond better when you speak to issues they care about in language they understand. Whether your organization is at the very beginning of its workforce planning journey or if you’re more mature in your process, this point is crucial. Identify your workforce planning stakeholders (e.g., business units, Finance, IT, HR, Talent Acquisition, etc.) and work with them to build a profile of the priorities, outcomes and metrics that matter most to them. This exercise will help you craft your business case, build cross-functional support, and ensure your project is aligned with the broader business strategy.

Define team ownership and structure.

While there is no “ideal structure” for your workforce planning team, it is important to have a structure that is clearly defined. It may be that talent acquisition is the best home for your workforce planning team or it might work better as a center of excellence that reports to the Global Head of HR. Regardless, workforce planning is a process that needs clear lines of ownership throughout.

Identify the skills and technology necessary for a successful team.

Like the previous point, this will vary depending on the relative maturity, composition, strategy and talent needs of your organization. However, there are a few common threads that we tend to see across successful organizations.

Key workforce planning skills include: basic data management, basic statistics, consulting skills, business acumen, data visualization, communication/presentation skills, and critical thinking.

As for technology, focus first on solutions that will help you collect, clean, integrate, analyze and share data securely. These processes are essential to your ability to accurately quantify the future supply of critical talent.

Embrace uncertainty.

Things change; get used to it. If your workforce planning process can’t keep up with the pace of change in your organization, shorten the process and increase the frequency. Instead of meeting annually, meet quarterly to adapt and update the workforce plan. Another way to thrive in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) environment is to increase your emphasis on workforce planning activities, like scenario planning, that are designed to anticipate and prepare for a range of possible futures.

Stay close to the business.

If you don’t know where the business is today, you can’t plot a course to where it needs to be tomorrow. Successful workforce planning requires an ongoing conversation between HR and the business. Open communication about possible shifts in strategy will help the workforce planning team think through the impact on talent and adjust its plans accordingly.

While there is no proverbial silver bullet to your organization’s talent woes, a rigorous, adaptive approach to strategic workforce planning will go a long way to ensuring you have the talent you need to deliver on business strategy.

For more information on this topic click here to access the on-demand webcast How to Build an Agile Workforce Planning Team