• How to create an agile Strategic Workforce Planning in a post-Covid world

Besides a lot of misery, the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought something good; one of the positive consequences is the enormous acceleration of technology adoption across many sectors. Almost every industry has undergone developments in recent months that would normally take years. How do you ensure that your organization has qualified people who can keep up with this development? How do you create an agile Strategic Workforce Planning for a post-Covid-19 world?

By Willem van Os, March 2021

How to create an agile Strategic Workforce Planning in a post-Covid world

What is Workforce Planning?

Strategic Workforce Planning is a process that must ensure that the supply of the right amount of skills and talents within an organization matches the demand generated from the business. To achieve your organization’s goals, you want to recruit, develop, and retain the job’s best talent. To do this properly, you need insight into your current workforce, you want to know what your future needs are, and you want to keep an eye on the actions to be taken and their associated financial consequences.

Strategic Workforce Planning is not an isolated process in an organization; it is linked to many other planning processes and other departments outside HR. The CEO (the business) wants to know what impact his workforce has in developing new strategies and initiatives. HR wants to be able to meet that need with its processes adequately. Finance then wants to measure, analyze and report on its trends, objectives, and results. All have an interest in a smoothly running workforce planning process.

Challenges of Workforce Planning

A workforce is one of the most valuable assets of an organization. Not only in terms of costs, but especially in the value it adds to a company. Despite this, Workforce Planning is still one of the most dynamic and unpredictable planning processes in organizations. Often due to a lack of an integrated approach and good supporting technology.

1. Good forecasting remains difficult

Many companies are struggling with their Recruitment Planning. Proper forecasting of future skill needs has always been a challenge, but thanks to the pandemic’s consequences, it is even more erratic and more difficult to predict than before.

2. Reacting instead of anticipating

Also, there is often no focus on long-term workforce initiatives, and the focus is mainly on the short term. As a result, people do not get further than reacting instead of proactively developing the workforce to meet future needs.

3. Silos that don’t work well together

Another common challenge is the lack of coordination between different departments. The well-known silos are also fully intact in the area of ​​Workforce Planning. As a result, a mismatch in mutual expectations, inconsistent department plans, and wrong financial projections arise.


Strategic Workforce Planning - Finext

Strategic Workforce Planning – Finext

In seven steps to an agile Strategic Workforce Planning

With the above challenges in mind, you can imagine that a well-functioning Strategic Workforce Planning ensures the connection between the various stakeholders from Business, Finance, and HR, improving cooperation and better accountability. Which seven steps can you take to realize this?

1. Determine critical capabilities

Look at the long-term strategic objectives of your organization and link your Strategic Workforce Planning to them. Sounds obvious, but we often see no good link between Strategic Workforce Planning and the Business Strategy of organizations. Often the critical capabilities (what do we need to be successful in the future?) are insufficiently addressed.

2. Analyze the current workforce

Of course, you look at things like age, type of contracts, and demographic expectations. Also, make a clear distinction between quality and quantity. How is the current workforce performing, and can there be any improvement? Do you have a clear picture of your high potentials, and do you offer them sufficient development? Do you know why these people perform so well, and can you apply this more often? This can result in a Development Strategy. Quantity, you can expect, is about the number of employees required, the turnover and the internal shifts.

3. Analyze the expected gap of your future workforce

If you have analyzed your current workforce, you can also look to the future. For example, you can check which people will retire based on their age and what expertise they bring with them. How do you want to secure this knowledge? Are you going to train or reskill current employees? Or do you opt for an external solution? The World Economic Forum outlines that 50% of workers will need reskilling by 2025.

Workforce reskilling

4. Always work on different scenarios

Many organizations were already thinking about the effects of new technological developments such as robotization on their existing workforce. But who had included the current pandemic and the acceleration in digitization in their scenarios? The world has changed at a rapid pace, and this will affect various jobs. The economic consequences will also affect the labour market. How nice would it be if you already processed such a scenario? And therefore, you know what to do about recruitment, redundancy, and reskilling? Reasonable anticipation may well prevent major layoffs.

Workforce digitalization

5. Link your recruitment expectations to Finance

With the right technology, an HR department can link its recruitment expectations to Finance. With this, you can substantiate in one go what it costs to realize the business’s expansion plans and what it means for the cash flow if it increases or decreases.

6. Improve the accuracy of the forecasts

Nowadays, you can use statistical forecasts to predict what staff turnover will be. And what impact this will have on the future workforce and ambitions. Forecasts enable you to initiate appropriate action at an earlier stage. Suppose you can also plan and calculate your personnel costs at a very detailed level. In that case, you can also calculate much more accurately with wage costs, variable remuneration, and other personal costs. This significantly improves the forecast’s accuracy, and you can also calculate the changing impact directly in all kinds of scenarios.

7. Implement, monitor and adjust

When you have completed the above steps, you are finally ready to perform the necessary actions. Strategic Workforce Planning must be a continuous process because the situation changes almost daily. As an organization, you will have to adjust and adapt continuously. You can only do that if you can constantly analyze your current process. Having a solid analysis solution is indispensable for this.

Data-driven Workforce Planning

Various tools are used for Strategic Workforce Planning. In addition to well-known point solutions, we also increasingly see platform solutions that tackle these challenges. These platforms make it easier to connect the different silos. Some come from a Human Capital Management (HCM) perspective, such as Workday. Others are more known as a planning solution, such as Anaplan.

By deploying the right technology, Strategic Workforce Planning changes from a labour-intensive process, with fragmented, inconsistent data in different sources, to a data-driven approach that connects departments and becomes an essential driver for realizing strategic objectives. This makes the process more reliable, many times more effective, and above all, more agile. The necessity of this has become clear over the past year through Covid-19.

Want to know more about Workforce Planning?

With a planning solution like Anaplan, you can solve many of the challenges, and that it is a powerful tool for an agile Workforce Planning process. Discover how you can use Anaplan for your Workforce Planning and book a Discovery Session of 30 minutes with an Anaplan expert. There is room to answer all your questions during this session, and you can indicate which parts you want to know more about. We will show, among other things, what the challenges are in the planning process and how to ensure seamless cooperation between the different business lines.

Plan a Discovery Session

Enterprise Performance ManagementPlanning, Budgeting & Forecasting Anaplan