Strategic Workforce Planning – Knowledge Management and Thinking Strategically about Your Workforce over the Next Five Years

Author: Ken Mall | Source: HCI | Published: October 7, 2013

Do you know what your company’s workforce is going to look like in 5 years? Do you know what skills you need to maintain your business today and guarantee sustainability in the future?
Never before in our history have we seen the workforce in the United States change as rapidly as it is changing today and it will continue to change over the next several years.  As employees retire, companies are struggling to capture the knowledge and experience of long time employees.  Failing to take advantage of this experience will have the direct effect on future organizational productivity.  Knowledge management includes strategies and practices used by an organization to identify, generate, collect, organize, preserve, disseminate, share, and apply critical knowledge in pursuit of the organization’s goals.  Leveraging a variety of practices and tools to help organizations capture and facilitate the sharing of knowledge before it is lost.
Do you have a strategic workforce plan?
Developing a strategic workforce plan is essential and will definitely require input from all levels of your organization – from the CEO to the front line manager. Not surprisingly the hardest part about developing a plan is just getting started.  All plans share common components that include (in no particular order):

  • Retirement/Attrition Projection – Over the next five years who is going to leave the organization and when?
  • Technology – How are you utilizing technology in the workplace today and how do you expect to utilize technology five years from now? What are the interim steps to getting there?
  • Organizational Strategy – What is organization’s strategy over the next five years and what skills will the organization need to realize that strategy?
  • Knowledge Management Strategy – How does your organization plan to manage the knowledge necessary to be sustainable?

Imagine creating a detailed list of job tasks that are key to your organization’s continued operation, and then identifying who in your organization can perform those tasks. Chances are you’ll find several people at or near retirement that you depend on to perform those tasks. With the job task analysis in hand; you’ll have a clear map to start creating your knowledge retention strategy.  Analyzing jobs by defining the tasks and associating skills will help ensure that the skills of your current and future workers will match the job tasks you need them to perform.
Gathering and documenting experience and knowledge of these vital employees in advance will be easier, and cheaper, the earlier you start.  While this information collecting may seem like a daunting task to add to already overloaded workloads, it is a critical step in keeping the processes and flow steady in an organization.  Building your team, setting in place career ladders, and developing proper training plans are crucial to the success and profitability of your business.
Developing a clear understanding of the specific requirement of your jobs, sharing that information with current and future workers, and others, will help you to plan the future of your organization’s workforce.
Ken Mall
Managing Director – EDSI Consulting
Ken has more than 20 years of leadership experience working with top-tier companies, labor organizations and government agencies identifying the skill needs of their workforces, and developing and implementing solutions to meet those needs. His vision and expertise in workforce development has helped organizations with notable growth in the technical skills of their skilled workers.