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An Agile Approach to Workforce Planning: A Guide for HR
An Agile Approach to Workforce Planning: A Guide for HR
Kishor Venkatesh R

Content Developer

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An Agile Approach to Workforce Planning: A Guide for HR

26 Jul 2021

Agile workforce planning is an ongoing approach to create the right capability within your workforce to align and allow organizations to be ready for a disruptive future.

There are seven elements to workforce planning: the right size, the right location, the right time, the right cost, the right risk, and the right shape.

Companies build the right capability, the seventh element, central to all these six elements when other elements come together.

Components of Capability

The right capability holds the six components you see below.

  • Skills – What an organization has or practiced over time, and skills they can acquire with upskilling and reskilling.
  • Knowledge – The mastery that is immediately accessible.
  • Accreditation – This component is an aspect of skills and knowledge. Most organizations need certification or accreditation to perform tasks. For example, a law firm needs accredited lawyers, or a CA firm needs accountants that have passed an examination, etc.
  • Mindset – The way we think and feel about circumstances.
  • Physiology – If the mindset is about thinking, physiology is the physical aspect.
  • Environment – This component heavily impacts both mindset and physiology.

All these elements coming together creates the idea of capability, a core element of the right workforce.

Making Workforce Planning Agile

Strategic workforce planning is crucial to strategically align people, processes, and technology with objectives and adapt to change. Here are a few best practices towards making workforce planning more agile.

Begin with stakeholder needs

Whether you are starting or at a mature stage in the journey, identify your planning stakeholders, like IT, HR, finance, talent acquisition, etc. Building a profile of the priorities, outcomes, and metrics that matter most will help you craft a business case, build cross-functional support, and ensure the project aligns with the broader business strategy.

Define team ownership and structure

It is crucial to have a clearly defined structure of your workforce planning team. The planning process needs clear lines of ownership throughout. The team may make talent acquisition or work as a center of excellence reporting to the Global HR Head.

Identify the necessary skills and technology

Identifying the skills and technology will depend on your organization’s maturity, composition, strategy, and talent needs with a few common threads. Skills include basic data management, consulting skills, business acumen, data visualization, communication/presentation skills, and critical thinking.

Focus on technology that will help you collect, clean, integrate, analyze, and securely share the data. These processes are essential to accurately quantifying and supplying critical talent.

Accept the prospect of uncertainty

Things change, or there may be a breakdown in processes due to external or internal forces. Your workforce planning process must keep up with the pace of change in your organization. The stakeholders must meet regularly to update the team and update plans.

The team must increase your emphasis on workforce planning activities, like scenario planning, and thrive in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) environment so that the team can anticipate and prepare for any possibilities in the future.

Keep the conversation going

You must know where the business stands today so that you can plot a course to where it needs to be tomorrow. Successful workforce planning requires an ongoing conversation between the stakeholders.

Keeping communication open will keep everyone informed and participative in possible shifts in strategy, helping the team think through the impact on talent and tweak plans accordingly.

Workforce Planning in the AI Era

AI/ML-based technologies are gaining traction for providing sophisticated analytics. It can turn big data into actionable insights for the long term. It harnesses the power of data – employee details such as employee attributes to see how fit they are.

AI workforce planning tools help managers arrive at high-level business repercussions of such decisions, such as the impact on bottom line and retention. They also filter out what is not impactful.

AI-based tools look at workforce planning in its entirety instead of pockets, translating workforce initiatives to strategic objectives. This is possible because they can make decisions based on real data emerging from a relevant context. A contextual view is a boon for making the right people/business decisions.

AI-based agile workforce planning can remedy employee turnover, low productivity, low engagement, low potential realization, misfits, etc. Organizations must decide to free themselves from the clutches of manual spreadsheets and calculations.

With analytics and agile workforce planning, stakeholders can chart the way forward instead of arguing over the headcount numbers or hiring to use available funds. Workforce planning aims to determine recruiting, growing, deploying, optimizing, and retaining employees.

Accurately adjusting plans and strategy on the fly will make plans more precise, directly impacting costs and provides tangibly impact productivity and business performance.

Draup analyses employee information, personality traits, technology and soft skills, and refer to engagement guidelines and hiring opportunity index to suggest candidates for a profile.

Its Diversity Navigator helps HR teams leverage ethnic and gender diversities across business functions, geographies, and job profiles. Additionally, Draup can study the talent ecosystem at emerging locations before setting up offices and conduct Archetype analysis on specific companies.

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