The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 5: Defining the operational workforce plan

Developing your workforce plan

In our previous post, we have covered the Workforce Planning Framework, which outlines our systematic process of using the business strategy and analysis of workforce supply/demand to develop a strategic and operational workforce plan.

The four pillars that we have covered are:

  1. Defining critical workforce issues
  2. Identifying workforce gaps/surpluses
  3. Developing the business case
  4. Defining the strategic workforce plan

To successfully finish this process, which I have referred to as “the five pillars of workforce planning,” the last steps of the plan – or pillar five – would entail defining the operational workforce plan, which comprises two key components:

  1. Developing/refining HR programs and processes
  2. Tracking and measuring improvement

To deliver more value, HR needs to spend more time accelerating operational improvement and less time on its traditional administrative and compliance activities. There needs to be an audit of current programs and processes to get a sense of what I call before-after. Since a great amount of HR work is transactional, the new transformed model should take a strategic view of the various functions. This may entail bringing people into HR with extensive operational improvement experience.

HR needs to get the “people” part of process improvement right; HR needs employees who can go toe-to-toe discussing operational changes with line managers. HR professionals need credibility to challenge line managers on whether they are improving the attitudes and skills of their people at the same time they’re redesigning their jobs.

As you think about your planning steps, make sure you address communication and change management issues:

  1. Urgency – 50% of initiatives fail if they do not have a burning platform or sense of urgency.
  2. Coalition – You’ve got your workforce planning team. Who else do you need to engage?
  3. Create the vision – What is the future vision? Is it compelling and meaningful?
  4. Stakeholder benefits – What’s “in it” for each stakeholder group?
  5. Communicate the vision – You’ll need a communication plan for major stakeholders.
  6. Empower others – What will you expect other to do? How will they help implement and drive the change?
  7. Short-term wins – How do you define them? How do you ensure them? How will you celebrate them?
  8. Consolidate improvement – Learn as you go and build lessons learned. Institute a continuous improvement framework.
  9. Institutionalize – Make workforce planning and resulting action planning processes part of the overall organizational planning process.

Tracking and measuring improvement is your scorecard. This step will allow you to get a visual as to the progress of each initiative. This step involves, what should be monitored and reported. If you go back to your gap analysis, this should be a starting point.

Remember the business owns the execution of the action plans. The business units should agree on measurement, reporting frequency, project management methodologies as well as escalation procedures.

Some of the items you’ll want to develop clarity about include:

  • Measurement – How will you measure success? Quantitatively? Qualitatively? Are there accepted measurements in your organization that you can leverage?
  • Reporting frequency – How often will you report status? Will it vary by initiative? Who will you report status to
  • Project management tools and methodologies – Do you have enterprise-wide tools that you can use? Is there a standard project management methodology? Can you leverage project management resources to help your team?
  • Tracking tools – How are issues tracked? Do you have automated tools?
  • Escalation procedures – What happens when projects get off track? Who gets involved? How do remediation plans get developed and put in place?
  • Stay flexible –Be ready to make adjustments when projects change. Make sure that you’re continuing to scan the environment, both internally and externally so that you’re out in front of changing conditions.

Rounding out the Workforce Planning Team

The core workforce planning team is the work engine for the workforce planning effort. This team maps out the strategy, determines roles and responsibilities, and plans and facilitates workshops, presentations and data gathering activities.

HRIS is critical to determining what needs to be gathered, especially to support environmental scanning and current state analysis. This group helps determine where data are housed and how “good” the data are. They might also be good links to data sources outside of HR such as finance and customer data.

The project sponsor supplies the funding for the initiatives, makes decisions, provides communication, and champions efforts across the enterprise and up and down the organization. The sponsor should also be able to communicate strategy and be instrumental in identifying critical roles for strategy implementation.

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