The disruption from the last year has had a major impact on every aspect of an organization. From work models to hiring strategies to engagement strategies, every organization has had to relook at all aspects. And strategic workforce planning is no exception to this. In a world reeling from the after effects of a pandemic, it has become clear that organizations need to be able to understand the changes they need to make to transition to the new world of work quickly and respond to them by re-architecting work in an agile way.
In an exclusive webcast in association with Anaplan, Katherine Wannan, Director Workforce Transformation, Deloitte Australia, Rupert Bader, Senior Director, Workforce Planning, Anaplan and Ashar Khan, SVP People Analytics, GIC shared insights on how organisations need to approach workforce planning as they transition to the new world of work.
Understanding broad changes in the market as organizations return to office
Katherine, Ashar and Rupert outlined some major challenges that organizations are facing in the present market conditions, majorly in terms of job location, estate, skill imbalance, and the ubiquitous talent war.
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the shift that was already happening in the market with regard to work location, and preferred work models. Given that context, job location and real estate are among the bigger concerns with employers today, heavily skewed by workers' preferences, organizations, with a more practical perspective, are trying to foster an elevated level of flexibility, empowerment and autonomy for employees.
There is also much to be said about the “great resignation”- where people tend to leave and move to organizations offering much more flexibility in terms of job location, work role restructuring and work life balance. The talent war has further escalated given that some organizations have latched on to the new normal faster as compared to peer organizations. It is no more a matter of access to great talent, it is largely about what appeals to that talent.
Also now that office commutes, and other logistical drudgery is a thing of the past, employees also have a new found penchant for indulging in skill development to further enhance their profiles. To be fair, organizations in the wake of the pandemic too had to undergo rigorous redeployment and furloughing - further feeding the need for self development. This is a great opportunity to apply analytics to and plan for emerging challenges. Agility is key.
How organizations are adapting to the new normal
Talent and skill shortage is a fundamental concern among the organizations and industries in the Australian and global market. Consequently, they are changing their work models to look for skills within the external market along with creating and building desired skill sets internally. Using unknown sources of talent and assessing potential capability across your organization with the use of AI to match an individual to a mentor or coach or a project opportunity can help mend these issues.
Talent acquisition too has changed from hiring for a job description to hiring for a skill. This brings to the front a glaring lack of acceptable standards and defined level of proficiency for certain skills. In such a situation, having an inclusive and creative approach, using tools such as meta data, an enormous data pool of workers, machine learning, AI, etc can aid in paving the way.
How can technology help in mitigating these challenges
Technology is an equalizer and also an enabler. It plays a very significant role in aggregating data, analyzing it and utilizing it for hiring along with strategic business planning. Notably, pooling of information and data from different HR systems is a strategic way to utilize tech, where leaders can use such data to make quick and direct decisions in terms of varied parameters. Not just that but it has further proved to aid employers and leaders formulate possibilities under different scenarios, enabling them to choose a less risky path and make some deliberate changes. Companies are using technology to hire ahead of attrition by using the operational workforce planning process and IQ.
Can scenario planning help organizations meet their objectives?
Scenario planning has been dynamically evolving since the last 18 months. The transition can be seen from a model that strategizes or thinks about a plan catering to limited possible scenarios such as formulating three possible scenarios on an annual basis, to the one which is quite complex and broad in terms of workforce perspective and for the organization as a whole. Prime transition parameters include but are not limited to the volume of workforce, skill sets, capabilities, and how they are distributed. The idea behind such a changed perspective is to be ready when something drastic like the pandemic happens. In addition to that, the ability to shift, adapt, and rapidly bring the right people to address the issue.
Organizations are indulging in building flexible and customized strategic workforce planning models, aiding in forecasting potential scenarios. With the help of evolved scenario planning leaders can quickly opt for scenarios that are pre-built for them or customize scenarios according to the circumstances. Such strategy planning should not merely be based on the internal data but also on the talent market information. Moreover, businesses are democratizing data, using cloud based platforms to collect and store data, allowing everyone access. Scenario planning used to take weeks and months, tactical yet inefficient strategic meetings. Now, the use of the right tools and data pool has further accelerated the planning processes enabling leaders to toggle between pre-built scenarios, customize them according to the circumstance
Alignment among HR, Finance and other departments
Following the global trend, organizations worldwide are making a major shift towards a sort of wholesome or team oriented work model, working in tandem with departments having similar interests. The shift is witnessed from individual specific roles to a team oriented approach, where people belonging to different profiles/departments emerge as a collective team. Technology, tools, AI, etc have mostly contributed to this change of perspective and an aligned approach. With teams working together, comes the issue of privacy. To address that issue, organizations coupled with tech are using the richness of the HR driven machine learning model to restrict or deliver selective access to information around compensation, promotion, history, etc.
In conclusion, employee engagement, and flexibility, are being prioritized popularly by organizations to re-architect the work model and enable the return to office. Examples of this are a 4 day work week, flexible initiatives, shifting the 9-5 model to bring about more flexible work options as to when and where to work, with more flexible schedules. Other important factors include analyzing the purpose of work and the ability to align it with the requirements of the organization. There is a much higher expectation among employees to have a dynamic work profile that evolves overtime, contributing to the growth of the company.
One of the things that an organization or an HR leader should avoid is having the 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to workforce planning or strategic planning. The employers need to opt out of the traditional methods of workforce planning and a fixed mind-set. It is good to have a dynamic culture, which is inclusive, permissible to change with the evolving circumstances.
Innovation and creativity is the key to re-architect as per the workforce perspective we have at the moment. We need to be empathetic and customized while devising solutions and facing challenges.