The 6th January was the most popular day to return to work this year, but many of you may have even entered the work doors a little earlier and eased yourself back into realising what day of the week it actually was. However, a high percentage have had a lovely 2 weeks of festivities, and it hurt when it hit that Christmas is officially over for another 11 months!
But that is seriously ok because most social posts you will see are oozing PMA. Every other individual post you scroll to is a motivational quote/meme/image focusing on the future, the year ahead and goals, targets, dedication, and professional aims. Organisations and their leaders aren’t any different.
The pause button has been firmly released and organisations are moving forward on the activities that were not progressed before everyone swiftly logged off. Diaries will start filling up with meeting overload, everyone’s workstream will become an urgent priority, and the budgets that haven’t been spent will be long gone by the end of March.
It’s also a really great time for Leaders, if the end of year pressures didn’t allow it to happen, to reinvest time and effort into reviewing their workforce planning, which will support the business priorities for the year ahead.
Wrong, you need a plan. Workforce, or Resource Planning isn’t anything new. Organisations have spoken about this activity for many years, understood how it will help them succeed but many believe they have it nailed, but have they? Quite often, many leaders do not. Knowing your budget requirements, man hours needed to deliver a project, and being able to project EOY profit and loss, whilst meeting customer needs, is not enough anymore because workforces are changing. The need to attract and retain talent is ever more prevalent as employees need and want more from employers.
Workforce Planning in its simplest form, is the process of reviewing the current workforce, and determining workforce needs, whilst identifying the gaps between what an organisation has and what they need, going forward.
Identifying the right people with the right skills to operate in the right place at the right time and at the right cost is crucial to the success of an organisation and acts as a real enabler to proactively ensure organisations have the resource required to achieve business goals.
Doesn’t sound revolutionary? It’s not, but it is something that organisations don’t get quite right because it involves an investment in proactive planning, which is often secondary to the reactiveness of the business needs and codepends on a business focus on talent management.
Workforce planning does what it says on the tin – it helps businesses plan their workforce needs. It allows the leaders to proactively look at interdependencies across their business, reviewing roles but also the individuals that sit in those roles. Due considerations placed on end dates of secondments or fixed term contracts, people due to leave and return to other departments, pre-planned time away from the business such as sick leave or paternity leave, but also transformational activity such as technology implementation, or departmental reorganisations. It also really focusses on business needs v’s wants, and the talent required to futureproof the organisation.
One great thing about workforce planning is that it gets leaders talking to one another and thinking about organisational goals as a whole. It allows you to consider all the noted areas above, but also identify, and categorise, individuals and their circumstance such as the fictional employees @TopDog Gaming.
TopDog Gaming employs Bobby as a Security Architect in IT. He has worked for the company for 2 years and is a high performer, requires little management and delivers above and beyond what is required to protect the organisation’s security. But he has been openly vocal that he is looking for his next work challenge but is believes the organisation cannot support this.
Despite being brilliant, he would be known as a “flight risk”, and the role he occupies in the organisation a “Critical role”. Therefore, when reviewing workforce planning, his manager needs to consider what would he do if he resigned. Would the organisation have the skillset to continue to protect the organisations IT security? How much have they relied on him in recent years? How long would it take to upskill someone to his level? Is there a successor internally that could undertake the role? Why are they able to fulfil his ambition?
All of these questions are key for determining the business position when workforce planning, but it is also key for his manager to have open and honest communication with Bobby to determine what his “next steps” are and opening up dialogue to determine what no longer fulfils him at TopDog Gaming.
Diana also works at TopDog Gaming. She is an Analyst and has worked with the organisation for 15 years, through business acquisition her role has changed considerably. She is dependable, has a great depth of historical information, and “steps up” when her manager is on holiday. She is also expressed her desire to retire early.
Diana would be regarded as “low risk” and a “safe pair of hands” due to the behaviours she has demonstrated and her committed to the organisation. However, due to considering early retirement she becomes a “moderate risk” which needs to be explored. Equally, her manager needs to consider who would be dependable enough to support the team when he is on leave? How will he capture Diana’s historical knowledge? And what is Diana’s motivators for wanting to retire early? Does he need to replace her, or can he use her salary to invest in the early talent agenda and recruit 2 Graduates?
There are many key stakeholders throughout the process. From the Exec team who set the business direction, to the heads of service, to the functional managers who understand dynamics of the people, to finance who play a crucial role in supporting achieving such goals within budget. HR also play a vital role in the success of an organisation’s workforce business plan. They are the key holder to the HR data analytics and need to act as a real driver on people risk. However, HR’s real gift in the process is often the design and implementation of a workforce planning strategy enabling guidance for the business and acting as true business partners to guide, support and advise on all people related matters.
Additionally, HR can add real value and strategic insight, by providing analytics that help bridge talent gap risks, workforce gaps and risks, and talent supply required to achieve strategic business goals.
However, to be a true partner, HR need to understand the business dynamics, the impact of the workforce plan and how their stakeholder engagement can contribute to real business success.
Workforce planning is a simple yet effective concept, which can act as a real enabler to support business success. The success of the activity rests on the proactivity of the stakeholders, accuracy of the people data and a real understanding of the organisations strategic business plan, which should run parallel with the workforce plan.
It needs to be a continuous plan, whereby the detail is regularly reviewed considering the relevance of the information and having the courage to change the plan to respond to an ever-changing business climate.
HR need to be a key stakeholder in this process to drive consistency across the business, and challenge appropriately, whilst at the same time supporting the creation of an organisation-wide picture of the workforce plan and the key interdependencies that may impact one another.