With ever-increasing pressures on businesses today to innovate; increase operational agility; and grow global thinking and mindsets amongst their people, the importance of modern workforce planning practice has never been more critical.

CEOs and business leaders openly acknowledge that in today’s ‘talent based economy’, robust workforce planning strategies and clear data analytics underpin their decision-making capabilities. Yet all too often organisations are missing key opportunities because current technology and planning practices are failing to reflect the pace of change and requirements of today’s workplace.

Quite simply, what got us here is not going to get us there. Getting ‘fit for the future’ requires not only clarity of future business direction and workforce capability requirements, but also an understanding on the key trends of how people want to work and engage. The reality is we are now operating in an age where traditional employment structures are disappearing, replaced by more nimble, networked workplaces and contingent workforces.

KPMG’s ‘Now or Never 2016 Global CEO Outlook’ notes that 72% of CEOs believe the next three years will be more critical for their industry than the last fifty; 77% are concerned whether or not their organisation is keeping up with new technologies and ways of working and 99% identify the need to take action to develop existing and future talent.

Overlay this with the ‘Future of Work 2020’ report, which notes that workplaces will be significantly impacted by forces such as extreme longevity that will see over 70% of 60-year-olds still in the workforce; advanced technologies that will require new forms of media literacy; and global connectivity that will require new levels of global thinking and agility; and it is clear that we cannot continue to look at workforce planning through the same lens.

There is no doubt that in order to effectively respond to these changes and demands, business leaders need to not only anticipate them and the impact on their business strategy, but also know how to align their current and future workforce. To do this you need to have an accurate and informed view of what your people can do, will do, and want to do. Without it you are unable to ensure that you have enough of the right people, to deploy to the right place at the right time.

Aligning business strategy with people strategy helps leaders understand whether or not they have the capability to deliver and how to shape and engage their people in a timely, purposeful, and cost effective manner. However, gaining deep insights of a workforce can be tricky because people take leave, move up and out of organisations, or simply don’t wish to move from what they are doing now. Getting a clear view of the capabilities, motivations and ambitions of a workforce requires us to combine the human element with the data element. Open, pragmatic conversations about personal and career ambitions, combined with sophisticated data management and modelling tools, are required to support detailed mapping.

 

5 key considerations

1. People

What skills, capabilities, and attributes do we require? Do we currently have them in our business or do we need to either develop them or recruit them?

2. Place

Have we got the right people in the right places to support critical business outcomes and growth strategies?

3. Time

At what point do we need to review the roles and ways of working to ensure that they are still relevant and effective?

4. Structure

How do we best structure teams and roles to support agile and productive ways of working that also serve to motivate and engage people?

5. Tools

What data management and technology tools will serve to enable the planning and implementation of workforce plans while also providing transparency on their effectiveness and return on business investment?

Competitive advantage, business efficiency, and success will all be determined by our ability to use new information and insights to carefully plan, measure, and align both individual ambition and capability with business opportunity. In today’s aggressive business climate, we need adept workforce planning and analytics to both survive and thrive.