3M workforce planning

3M Harnesses Technology for Workforce Planning Initiatives

Human capital planning at i4cp member company 3M—global manufacturer of a broad array of leading consumer and commercial products—is a worldwide endeavor. Mounting workforce planning on such a scale demands attention to scope and refined use of technologies to gather the necessary data.

Making job families manageable

Global Human Capital Planning Manager Jon Thurston explains: “We do a five-year workforce projection globally across 18 different jobs, which are actually job families or combinations of jobs.” With a workforce of about 85,000, he observes, “we try to find enough detail with the groupings, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. If we had 50 job functions we wanted people to try and plan out over the next five years, it would be challenging.”

Integrating business planning and workforce planning

3M matches human capital planning cycles to strategic planning that occurs in the various countries and regions in which the company has locations. Tying the two processes establishes what Thurston calls a “rhythm” that reinforces each country or regional HR manager’s understanding that their location owns part of the planning process. Because it established that sense of ownership, Thurston considers the human capital/business planning integration one of 3M’s biggest workforce planning successes.

Leveraging technology to deliver the right data to managers

The company uses QlickView, a business intelligence tool, to gather workforce data globally. “We’re leveraging tools that have been around for a while and are really quite good,” Thurston explains. “Our HR managers around the world use a custom tool that is pre-populated with the figures for their locations so they don’t have to look up anything. They have discussions with their business leaders about where the business is going and investments anticipated to support that. Then they spend perhaps an hour completing the custom tool online.”

Planning for improvements

Behind the scenes, the aggregated information ultimately factors into many aspects of strategic and business planning, and is included in presentations to 3M’s top executives and the board. Thurston points to consistent accuracy within one percent over the six years the process has been in use. But improvements are on the horizon, he says. Those will focus on “educating managers in the ways they can use the workforce data and teaching them how to have better discussions with business leaders and executives.”

This is an excerpt from i4cp's report, Winning at Workforce Planning: Turning High-Performance Strategies into Action, available exclusively to i4cp members. Read 3M's Winning Strategies for Workforce Planning on a Global Scale to learn more about 3M's workforce planning strategies.

Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.