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Source | www.hrps.org | Anna Tavis

Recalibrating Workforce Planning for the 21st Century Organization

Traditionally, workforce planning was left to supervisors’ year-end recruitment and replacement considerations while the finance function accounted for “people” plans in the footnote to the annual budget report. In today’s economy, understanding and predicting the workforce trends, costs, and investments have risen to the top of every CEO’s strategic agenda. Twenty-first century workforce issues encompass a broad, complex, and far reaching set of strategic business challenges from labor shortages and ever accelerating skills obsolescence to skills renewal needs, the expanding gig economy, and the end of retirement as we know it. Today’s workforce planning is one of business’s most urgent priorities and HR leaders are stepping up with data-driven and technology-enabled solutions transforming this legacy people management practice for modern needs.

Nigel Guenole and Sheri Feinzig open this issue’s Perspectives by discussing the evolution of the classic approach as well as highlighting the emergence of the new practices in workforce planning today. The need for the alignment between workforce planning and business priorities has been the requirement for a while. What is new today is the clear shift towards skills, not jobs, as the unit of measure for the predictive workforce planning models. In addition to the taxonomy of skills, considerations of the core staff versus contingent workforce options along with if-then scenario modeling are in place. Given the impact of demographic changes, market volatility, and anticipated fluctuations in university graduation rates, dynamic planning models are replacing traditional top-down approaches. 

Jesse Harriott of the Workhuman Analytics and Research Institute argues emphatically for the shift in mindset to a more inclusive planning paradigm. Harriott explains that the most effective workforce planning programs are agile, work-team based, and inclusive of employee input at all points into the planning process. Considerations of diversity and inclusion belong to the domain of workforce planning as well, he argues. 

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