If your company strives to get a holistic view on its future through the prism of future skills, looks to streamline hiring, and keep skill management cost-savvy, strategic workforce planning (SWP) can be the answer for those needs.
At the heart of strategic workforce planning is how HRs bring the right skills at the right price into the right place. With strategic workforce planning and wise HR steering, businesses can feel safe and assert whatever future disturbances may bring.
To help you get the most and best of strategic workforce planning, we put together four handy tips to keep an eye on.
Strategic workforce planning tips
Tip 1: Use data for workforce demand and supply planning
Your company is a living organism. It steadily changes and grows its scope of operations, staff, clients, and culture. All of these aspects impact the strategic workforce planning process. That’s why it’s crucial to collect and constantly track the changes that take place in your company and evaluate how these changes affect the quality of your workforce: skill set, motivation, performance, and other aspects.
Make sure you know ‘how it’s starting’ and take the audit of your current company’s state of things. We recommend you collect and track the following data:
- FTE and headcount
- Age and gender distribution
- Attrition and retention rate
- Internal mobility rate
- Employee development data
- Skill matrix of your employees
- Performance measurement
- Time-to-hire for critical positions
Take these vitals and keep them under the radar regularly. These data will help you detect the patterns that occur at your business and predict the future.
Tip 2: Have a few scenarios to tackle future challenges
Whether your goal is to close skill gaps, streamline recruiting and employee training, set up the company for future restructuring or digital transformation, leveraging strategic workforce planning will help you prepare for future challenges.
Having the necessary data, you can simulate different predictable and unpredictable workforce scenarios. How should your workforce structure look like if your company adapts its strategy and focuses on R&D? How many FTEs would you need in certain units in case of restructuring? And what should be your workforce planning strategy during the pandemic time? Using SWP tools can make this scenario planning data-based and grounded.
A great example of strategic workforce planning done wisely is the way CMS, an international law company, handled it. The company wanted to simulate business and workforce changes on the service lines’ profitability as well as determine recruiting and development targets to monitor the change.
With data and strategic workforce planning tools, CMS could identify skill gaps and develop talent-management measures to efficiently transform the workforce and shape their workforce architecture. As the next step, they designed simulations to identify the future workforce demand based on the business development and the defined operating models. Scenarios CMS got as a result, allowed them to optimize internal career paths and develop new career paths.
Tip 3: Track labor market insights
Understanding complex labor markets, including the demand for skills, is key to guiding employees’ development and meeting the company’s workforce challenges. Besides, as the world changes at the speed of light, it’s essential to track the change – here and now. Hence, when picking the tools for strategic workforce planning, make sure that you get an opportunity to get labor market insights.
We suggest considering the following labor market insights into strategic workforce planning:
- What are the upcoming trends in your industry?
- How do these trends reflect in the job and skill demand?
- What are the emerging skills and jobs of the future in your industry?
- What are the emerging operating models in organizations?
Another set of insights to keep an eye on is your competitors’ future skills strategies. The labor market data can reveal the information about the best job posting practices of your (cross-) industry competitors, or give you a helicopter view of skills and job roles your competitors are looking for. These insights are the indicators of your competitors business strategies.
Whatever your case might be, with data and tools, you can collect valued insights that will help you identify skill and capacity gaps, define closing measures, and provide you with a future-of-work outlook. For instance, this is how Merck Group’s knowledge of the current and future labor market’s skills and job demands helped them translate the business objectives into a new workstyle, address skill gaps, and create workforce implementation plans.
Tip 4: Bust SWP misconceptions to get the buy-in from your colleagues
What else is essential when bringing in strategic workforce planning to your organization is to have a team of dedicated people ready to implement workforce changes along with you. To get buy-in from your colleagues, managers, and executives, you need to be ready to combat misconceptions. “Strategic workforce planning is not for medium-sized and SMB companies”, “Workforce planning is the responsibility of the HR department solely”, or “The plan needs to be a final version from the start and can’t be modified once SWP is implemented” are just a few of popular misconceptions HR professionals may face.
Ensure you know or can predict objections managers or top executives have in their minds and address them before starting the whole workforce initiative in your company. Translate strategic workforce planning benefits into the language of business and profit for your C-suite. Explain to managers why workforce planning can’t be held on HR shoulders alone and why it’s essential to collaborate.
You can see more tips on how to get a buy-in in this video:
Get prepared for tomorrow today
2020 has demonstrated to many businesses and the entire industries that being prepared for unforeseen events and having business scenarios is crucial – for both companies and their employees. We hope these tips will inspire you to deep dive into strategic workforce planning and will help you get ready for future challenges.
If you’re exploring strategic workforce planning tools and solutions, find out how smartPlan can help you.