leaders involved worforce planning

The Importance of Senior Leader Involvement in Workforce Planning

Your business initiative can’t succeed without the support of senior leaders. Seriously? How many times have you heard that? At this point, it has taken on the status of boiler-plate recommendation for improving outcomes in development programs, succession management, performance management, employee engagement efforts, and just about every other business activity you’d care to name.

When i4cp surveyed business and workforce planning leaders for our latest planning-related research, we asked what planning teams could do that would most improve the outcomes of their workforce planning initiatives. They gave us a laundry list of 15 potential actions, and sure enough, there was “better senior leadership support” for workforce planning. More than half of respondents—even those from high-performing organizations—ranked it among their top suggestions.

Okay. We get it. Senior leadership support is not a cliché. It’s a true business must-have. But how can we take that understanding to the next level? What insight could we provide in i4cp’s latest report, Winning at Workforce Planning: Turning High-Performance Strategies into Action, that would give workforce planning professionals a real, proven strategy for getting their top leaders involved?

Enter i4cp member company FedEx Ground. A participating member of our Strategic Workforce Planning Exchange, a working group of companies exploring the latest thinking and emerging practices in workforce planning, FedEx Ground has created a clearly defined process that successfully enlists their leaders’ active participation in workforce planning projects and decision-making.

Detailed in the Winning at Workforce Planning report, FedEx Ground’s approach involves leaders from multiple business functions. “Seven high-level, cross-functional officers (EVPs, SVPs, VPs and above) serve on our Workforce Planning Steering Committee,” explained then Senior Workforce Planning Specialist Sugani Leman. “The committee meets monthly to oversee and direct workforce planning projects,” and takes on responsibility for decision-making related to extensive planning-driven projects.

To clarify roles and responsibilities for the committee of executives, FedEx Ground workforce planners crafted a four-tiered decision-making process that specifies projects requiring committee approval. Tier 4 includes decisions made by the company’s various business functions. Tier 3 decisions may involve more than one business unit and “the VPs retain decision rights with the workforce planning team in an advisory capacity,” says Leman.

Tier 2 decisions concern changes spanning multiple business functions, and go to the Steering Committee. Tier 1 decisions require senior officer approval, and represent wide-ranging change with broad impact for the organization. Along with decision-making, executives serving on the Steering Committee may be called on to contribute their expertise in other aspects of workforce planning as needed.

The full story of FedEx Ground’s proven strategy to gain senior leaders’ support and involvement in workforce planning appears in i4cp’s Winning at Workforce Planning: Turning High-Performance Strategies into Action, available exclusively to i4cp members.

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.