Why workforce planning needs to revolutionise to support the future of your business

May 9, 2019

The CIPD defines workforce planning as ‘a core business process to align changing organisation needs with people strategy.’ This is pivotal to ensure organisational goals, processes and workforce are aligned to the same key objectives and direction. Simple to devise in theory but external disruptions, internal barriers and information gaps can block the execution.

Adam Gibson, Director of Strategic Workforce Planning at Capita, has built a career dedicated to transforming and implementing workforce planning. He provides his key insight and experience on the subject to explain why it’s necessary for organisations and how embracing the unknown and becoming adept at adapting can overcome any planning hurdles.

Why plan at all?

The modern-day workforce is almost unrecognisable from what it was 10 years ago and in another 10 will be a different world once again with 65% of today’s primary school children being in jobs that don’t yet exist.

As technology continues to evolve at a fast rate, so too have the skills and capability needed to coincide with the latest innovations that can increase business growth, ROI, employee productivity and engagement. There is, however, a disconnect.  For example, of 9.1M jobs advertised in the UK last year, there were 41% more skills are being listed in job adverts than appear on CVs and only 59% of essential skills are matched by applicants.  This is just one face of the ever-increasing skills gap, which is costing the UK economy £1.7 billion through contingent labour and a further £527 million to attract and retain the right talent through inflated salaries. It is now imperative that workforce planning is actioned and takes on an agile approach to stay aligned with the ever-changing environment.

How to revolutionise your workforce planning

If you type ‘workforce planning’ into Google, within seconds you’ll see reams of results stating the ‘right way’ to do so. There are many ways that a workforce plan can be formulated, but there is one key ingredient to making it a success - the execution, NOT the plan. 

All too often such well thought out plans can end up on the shelf, untouched. This is down to a couple of factors that can be overcome. The first is embracing the unknown. All businesses are fragmented, with multiple departments possessing different KPIs and lost communication between them. Because of this it can be a challenge to marry up each team’s objectives to create a full plan. The lack of insight and filled-in blanks can lead to plans being put on pause however, the fear of the unknown shouldn’t halt implementation. You don’t need to know everything. Base it off smart assumptions from the organisational information you’ve gathered and build the most likely outcome from this. Create contingency plans too and remember it can always be changed and inevitably will. 

The foundations of workforce planning also needs to be reconfigured. Businesses often start with initiatives and fit those around business operations. Successful planning and execution needs to centre around identifying core organisational and workforce challenges, and then looking to a holistic range of initiatives to solve them. Your workforce plan should be able to answer the question, ‘what does the organisation aspire to be and why?’ and what needs to be overcome to achieve it.

Plans need to change if you want to reach your business goals

Workforce planning is like setting on sail on the sea, adjusting the boat as the waves crash and winds changes. To reach the destination you must steer the boat accordingly to these disruptions and you’ll succeed in landing where you need to be.

In today’s world change is inevitable and in order to achieve organisational goals and satisfy your people strategy you must act but be agile and ready to adapt to whatever occurs along the way. It’s time to prepare for the unexpected, understand you can never know everything, but you can’t afford to not be agile in the current and future climate. Remember workforce planning is about the execution, not just the plan.

Unsure where to start when it comes to workforce planning?

Our team of specialists can provide consultative and strategic support, business function analysis, organisational objective and workforce reviews to provide you with the right solution for your specific organisational needs. We also offer a range of resourcing services that are designed to support you with your current and future workforce and skills requirements. If you would like to have a discussion with one of our experts, please get in touch via email today at wearecapitaresourcing@capita.co.uk. 

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