Irish News

Strategic workforce planning has never been more important!

Neil Hughes
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While listening to the Recruiting Future podcast on a recent holiday, it got me thinking about just how important strategic workforce planning has become.

Industry expert Josh Bersin was chatting to podcast host Matt Alder about some of the difficulties facing employers when it comes to attracting talent in a post-pandemic market. Of course, access to high quality talent is not a new challenge in the recruitment world. However, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic upended the talent market. With the next 12-24 months likely to continue to be a job-seekers’ market, it is time to start thinking about how we drive interest from key candidates within the market, and re-invigorate the people we have already within our organisations.

When it comes to the talent shortfall, we often look to hiring more people as the immediate solution to deliver timely and high-quality work for our customers and clients. Although growing the team will increase capacity and outputs within an organisation, we can also achieve this by optimising the talented people we already have on-board.

Strategic workforce planning will allow us to reflect on the team we have, ensure that everyone is adding value in a way that makes the most sense for the organisation and them personally, and identify the true gaps where we should truly focus any efforts to attract key people. 

As we continue to adapt to rapid digital transformation, while striving to meet rising customer expectations, planning how we strategically position those already within our workforce will be key to achieving success in the coming months and years. Up-skilling and re-skilling people within our team should be a key priority, as well as finding the right talent to fill any skills gaps that may exist.

As part of the process, it is important to review technological capability within the organisation, to ensure we are using our ‘brain power’ in the most effective way. Although this can sometimes unnerve employees who may fear they are being replaced by robots, I quite liked how Josh dealt with this particular concern. He reflected that, “We are not getting automated out of work. We’re getting automated into higher value work.” However, as with any change within an organisation, it is vital that we communicate with our people and bring them along on the journey with us.

Retaining talent within the organisation should also be a key priority. Engage with team members and illustrate to them that a new role or experience does not necessarily need to mean a new company or place to work. Encourage those within the team who want to learn and grow, even if that is in a different area of the business to where they are currently. This will allow you to retain their skills and experience, while bringing a fresh perspective to a different part of the organisation.

In summary, while attracting high quality talent continues to be a challenge, the good news is that it is not the only option when needing to expand capacity and develop the organisational skillset. Strategic workforce planning can be used to stratify your approach to talent and ensure you optimise upskill and retain the people you have, while using your recruitment efforts to focus on those remaining skill gaps.