Enterprises depend on the skills and experience of its people to build a successful company and make it profitable.
Yet, today’s skills are far more specialized than those of the past. A software developer may have skills working on back end systems, but be inexperienced in developing user interfaces. A CFO may understand the ins and outs of growing a startup, but may have never been exposed to running finance for an international company.
With the nuances of today’s enterprise human resource needs, companies must develop a workforce strategy. A workforce strategy entails having a plan for acquiring, developing, motivating, retaining, and training the right people, while ensuring they are being used in the right place at the right time.
For strategic workforce planning to be successful, it must be tied closely with the goals of the business, not developed as its own entity. This requires multiple business leaders – from HR to finance to sales and production – to collaborate closely and align the business goals with the workforce planning process.
Review Business Strategy and Goals
Many companies want to dive right into looking at their current workforce to see if they have the right resources for what the company is doing today. However, nearly every modern industry is changing at the speed of light. Only assessing needs for your business today will give you the right skills short term, but can result in the same challenges in six months or a year.
Start by reviewing the company’s goals. This will help to future-proof your workforce strategy and ensure that your resource plans are in close alignment with where the company is headed, not where it’s at.
Define Skills Needed
It’s important to look next at the skills that are needed to reach those goals, without considering the skill sets that already exist within the company. As an enterprise moves into new and uncharted areas, new skills may be needed to guide you in the right direction or provide the knowledge and experience to create, market, and sell your next product or service.
If you start by looking at your existing pool of skills, you may miss the opportunity to add important talent or resources into the mix.
Understand Existing Skill Sets & Identify Needs
Once you understand where you’re headed and what’s needed to get there, it’s time to inventory the skills you already have within the company. This will uncover where gaps may exist, and allow you to evaluate the severity of those gaps. You’ll also understand if there are current skills that will become obsolete. Once that is understood, the organization can define a plan on how to fill those gaps and adjust the skill sets as needed.
Analyze the Labor Market
The last step in the planning process is to analyze the labor market for the skills needed to achieve the company’s goals. This goes beyond understanding the cost of talent acquisition for the missing skills. It also provides information on what current employees should be making in new roles, or what the cost and value of training versus hiring might be.
Finance can be a huge help in aligning the company’s budget and forecasts with the plan to address resource needs. Budget allocations can be made for the training and development of the existing workforce where appropriate and desired. Hiring can be aligned with revenue forecasts to ensure resources aren’t hired before they are needed or can be afforded.
To win at strategic workforce planning, companies must look at the big picture to gain clarity on what is needed to keep the organization moving forward. Then, in collaboration across the organization and with deep insight from finance, enterprises can train staff and fill the talent shortcomings that might have held them back.
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