Mastering Strategic Workforce Planning: A Quickstart Guide

Effective Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is arguably one of the most important items on all CEOs agendas. In a world where the employment landscape is constantly changing, being able to adapt with that landscape, while continuing to deliver bigger, better, faster is the stuff of sorcery and magic. Or that’s what many people think.  

But it needn’t be. 

Entitled the “War Room” of HR by this Forbes article about the war for the best talent, effective workforce planning means that your “workforce plan certifies that human capital and talent management strategies run parallel to the business goals”. 

We look at a few best practices when it comes to Strategic Workforce Planning that empowers your business to get ahead. 

1.    Embrace the New

The adage “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” no longer applies.  What if it the ‘un-broke’ is sitting on a mound of opportunity and potential, and your neglect to review and re-purpose is stopping it from delivering new-found success?  According to the New York Times, one of the biggest reason why businesses fail to grow, is down to complacency. Some call it resisting change, or a failure to embrace change – but one thing is certain, if you’re too busy avoiding the ‘un-broke’, you just may be missing out on a new winning advantage for your business and risk being left in the dust while your competition quickens their pace. 

2.    Moving from Words to Action

Nick Kelmsley summed the problem up perfectly in an article he wrote for Personnel Today. He writes, “Business leaders increasingly agree that taking a strategic approach to planning the future workforce will unlock great value, but effective strategic workforce planning remains an elusive, somewhat mythical beast,” with sadly only a small percentage of organisations making it work for them. Granted, that was 5 years ago, and, since then, this mythical beast has grown in size and stature and promptly claimed its rightful position at the boardroom table. But still today, this beast continues to challenge Talent Management and Leadership teams of organisations all over the world as it forces them to make peace with tolerating ambiguity, developing organisational development and diagnostic skills, being prepared to engage in the discussion early on, connecting with operational processes and most importantly, add value back into the organisation.  And while we’re talking about value, here’s another article we wrote on that subject too.  

3.    Create a roadmap to success

According to a Hay Group survey conducted in 2015, only 34% of organisations believed that the HR function was making a significant contribution to the business.  Sue Brooks, CEO of Imagine – an innovation consultancy that helps companies grow through innovation, and previous Chief Innovation Officer at global RPO and talent management firm Cielo, makes the definition of SWP clear. “In many cases, professionals struggle to distinguish between resource planning and strategic workforce planning. SWP is not just about numbers, it is an integration of human capital planning and broader business strategies,” she wrote in an article for HR Magazine. She goes on to write that, as with any successful people plan, there is anything but a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but that there is a solid framework that can be used as a foundation – which includes the likes of creating a vision, engaging with key stakeholders, defining your deliverables, identifying your internal champions, leveraging accurate HR data and iterating the process. 

Reviewing most SWP articles providing advice and thoughts on how or where to get started with a strategic people plan that delivers results, almost all remain consistent with one underlying principle thing: It’s Action Time. In fact, Accenture Strategy describe the perfect attack as, “Planning the work, Working the Plan” and “Focussing less on ownership, and more on Action”.  
So if there’s one action you take today in this new strategic way of managing your talent in you organisation, it would be to consider a more fluid way of working, and a phone call to the Home of Independent Talent, Talmix.

Talk to us today about how we can support your Strategic Workforce Plan.

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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