Question: How can I execute Strategic Workforce Planning in my Organisation?

For you wanting to carry out a Strategic Workforce Planning in your Organisation (SWP), it is safe to say you are aware of what SWP means. However, it is important that we start with a not so complex definition of SWP. Strategic workforce planning in the most simplistic explanation is all about being able to project the need for Talents vis-à-vis the strategic directions of the business and not in isolation of all other external factors that can affect the business.

Please watch the introductory video below for basic understanding of SWP

Some skills are a must for SWP

The listed skills are essential for whoever is to taken on the task of designing a Strategic Workforce Plan:

Advisory/Consulting skills
Analytical Skills (Data collection & Evaluation)
Knowledge of Business & its Strategy
Relationship Management
Facilitation Skills

Lets get you started with Strategic Workforce Planning

To ensure a robust and meaningful SWP, there are uncompromising inputs that cuts across business models and sectors. Please NOTE, you need to have a focal issue. It will guide what you search for, how you search for it and where you search.

The following are critical inputs required while designing a Strategic Workforce Plan (Please note that the peculiarities of businesses and industries will necessitate additional inputs. Please feel free to explore such inputs):

There is no simpler definition for Business Strategy than to say ‘’how the business tends to focus its operations within a period while being mindful of diverse variables’’.

In building SWP, the Business Strategy provides a comprehensive explanation through the objectives the company wants to pursue over a given period of time.

This period often ranges between three (3) and five (5) years. Also, within the Business Strategy are the underlining Vision and Mission statements. These two are also critical in the process of coming up with a Strategic Workforce Plan.

What you want to do at this point is to study and understand the directions of your Organisation. While you are at it, you will want to extract the Strategic Objectives of your Organisation. It will become handy as you progress. 

This is all about the global market. With globalization, it has become important to take the happening in the global marketplace serious. With this, the macro level dynamics are subjected to desk and facilitated reviews for pointers. There will be occurrence in the global market place that will affect every part of the globe. You will need to tailor your research to your industry/sector and also other related sectors/industries.

This is all about the local economy in which your organisation operates.

What does the future hold in respect to the economy of the country?

Is there likely to be a change in what is norm and thereby causing a paradigm shift in business?

These and many like questions are what you want to concern yourself with. 

To make this process easy for you, it is recommended that you deplore PESTLE for your analysis. This can also be used at the Macro level. The schema below will guide you:

What is the future of the industry in which your organisation operates?

Are there likely going to be some disruptions?

What industry forces will shape the future?

What pattern or behaviours on the part of customers will impact or inform a new way of doing things?

What will the competitive space look like?

Will the industry still be around and to what extent? 

These and many like questions are to be raised here.

So what next with these inputs?

The next phase of your effort at deriving an effective Strategic Workforce Plan hinges on the following activities: 

ACTIVITY ONE: Scenario Planning

This is all about travelling into the future within the context of the organisation and all other impacting variables to assume what could happen. It should happen through group deliberations. Small groups are to be formed and charged with different areas of focus. It is recommended that the different groups focus on the following scenarios:

Scenario 1 – There will be no change 

Scenario 2 – There will be mild change

Scenario 3 – Change will be disruptive

[Please feel free to have as many scenarios as possible. A maximum of 5 will be ideal and a minimum of three. It is also not compulsory that you must maintain the descriptive in front of each of the scenarios listed above. It is better yours is derived based on the strategic direction/focal issue of your organisation]

The groups as mentioned above will be expected to present their cases in a logical manner. To give further guidance, the following should help shape the thought process of each of the groups:

Impact – To what extent are we going to be impacted

Effect – What are the potential effects on our business?

Cost – What will be the cost implication?

Risk – What risks are we likely to be exposed to?

To ensure relevant contribution, brain-warming method should be adopted. Participating group members should be allowed to think ahead before the formal gathering of the groups.

The groups are to be provided with findings from the inputs as discussed earlier on. It is important that group members also carry out their independent research for the purpose of valid deductions.

The outcome of all of these is to establish how the organisation can/should play in respect to each of the Scenarios. 

This whole exercise is all about thinking about the future in alignment with the Business strategy. This assist in identifying the jobs, skills, competence, resources that will be required for the future.

Below is an example of scenarios:

A Template for reporting Scenarios have been provided in the SWP Pack for download at the end of this learning piece

ACTIVITY TWO: Identifying Capabilities

What are Capabilities? Capabilities in this context will be Organisational Capabilities. This is all about what an organisation should be able to do/competent in vis-à-vis its business strategy, the Macro and Micro projections, the Industry landscape and the outcomes of Scenario Planning.

In identifying these capabilities, questions should be asked concerning: ‘What capabilities do we require as an Organisation in order to be relevant, maintain competitive advantage and ensure our continued existence in the periods to come?

With these Capabilities listed, the next step is to identify the areas of the business where these capabilities are required and by extension the specific roles.

A Template for identifying capabilities have been provided in the SWP Pack for download at the end of this learning piece

ACTIVITY THREE: Identifying Critical Roles / Roles of Interest

There is need to identify critical roles, roles in which these capabilities that will drive the future are expected to be present. To prevent push back from staff, it advisable to use roles of interest. The use of critical roles from experience has met some push back where stakeholders felt unappreciated  as their roles where not plotted and referred to as critical roles. You do not want a situation where the grapevine is fed with the wrong information that some jobs are preferred to others. As a matter of fact, all participant in this process of designing a Strategic Workforce Plan must be trained before commencement and a refresher before moving into the next stage.

A tool can be designed for this purpose and deployed to respondents. Feedback should be subjected to deliberation among a closed group of decision making stakeholders.

Identified and agreed roles of interest should receive an improved job profile that includes the capabilities identified. The degree of competence for the capability should be stated by way of proficiency levels. This should be a thorough work.

A Template for identifying Critical Roles and for Job Profile have been provided in the SWP Pack for download at the end of this learning piece

ACTIVITY FOUR: Carry out Gap Analysis

The defined job profile should be adopted for measuring the available competence relative to expected. With this, the incumbents of such roles are assessed based on the aforementioned. The outcome of this gap analysis will inform a plan for the future which often time produces an HR Strategy Document alongside other business initiatives that needs to be activated.

Post analysis, somethings will be obvious. Whatever the case is with the level of competence available within your organisation, the 6Bs can be used qualifying what needs to be done.

B-Borrow: Obtaining outside talent through consulting, outsourcing etc.

B-Build: Developing the talent within the organization

B-Buy: Hiring in new talent from outside of your organization

B-Bounce: Exiting non competent talent

B-Bound: Retaining your critical employees through initiatives

B-Balance: Embark on a combination of development initiatives 

All of these six will impact different aspects of the HR Architecture and other aspects of critical business activities .

In executing the plan, the following will be impacted:

  • Budget
  • Business Planning
  • Succession Planning
  • Talent Development
  • Recruitment
  • Performance Management
  • Organisational Design
  • Compensation Management
  • Technology

A Template for Gap Analysis and reporting have been provided in the SWP Pack for download at the end of this learning piece

To ensure an effective and impactful SWP, the following should be in place or observed:

  • Top leadership should own it
  • It is not about individuals when designing/identifying roles of interest. The roles/jobs comes first
  • Someone should project manage the process
  • Coaching is an essential skill for would be facilitator of the process due to the several group activities and deliberations that will be held.

CASE STUDY: Explore the application of SWP by enrolling for the course below

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Compilation of SWP editable Templates

  • Scenario Reporting Template
  • Identification of Critical Roles Template
  • Identification of Organisational Capabilities Template
  • Job Profile Template for Critical Role
  • Gap Analysis Reporting Template
  • Global Gap Analysis Reporting Template

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