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Taking a Data-Driven Approach to Workforce Planning

Source | | Caroline Styr

Many organisations’ business and operating models have been significantly and unexpectedly disrupted by the events of 2020. Some organisations have faced increased demand (health services, grocery store delivery, hand sanitiser manufacturers), while some have faced significant decreases in demand (airlines, tourism, restaurants). Some have experienced a mixture of demand shifts across different areas of the business, for example, banks have faced a decline in branch activity but an increase in contact centre activity.

Research published by Gartner highlights that few CEOs think their organisation’s business models (14%) and operating models (13%) will be the same in three years. This was a challenge facing every organisation before 2020, but last year has undoubtedly shone a spotlight on the pace of change.

With such rapid rates of change, successful partnership between HR and the business is imperative, to ensure that the workforce – in terms of skills, capabilities and availability – and the work – in terms of how work gets done, for example remote vs. hybrid vs. onsite – are in line with shifting business objectives. However, research has shown that the most important workforce planning challenge for HR is that it has difficulty getting access to relevant business executives and subsequently struggles to keep up with the internally evolving business needs.

How do you understand changing organisation activities and objectives, and what they mean for the workforce? The answer is with a data-driven approach to workforce planning.

This article will explore four key questions to understand:

  • Why effective workforce planning is imperative to organisational success

  • The three main types of workforce planning

  • How to take a data-driven approach to workforce planning

  • Why organisation design and workforce planning are two sides of the same coin  

Why effective workforce planning is imperative to organisational success

Leaders need an evidence-based way of understanding the impact of the current pandemic and other external events on the organisation. Scenario planning, a key component of workforce planning, enables workforce planning teams to predict the impact of external factors that are likely to occur.

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