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Optimizing the New Workforce: Workforce Planning Reimagined

As part of i4cp's study into the Evolution of Work, more rigorous workforce planning is the element talent leaders cited when asked about the foundation HR needs to establish if it is to help organizations realize maximum returns from the efforts of employees and non-employees alike.

The continuing evolution of the worker and employer relationship can make recruiting, training, and relying on this new blended workforce a scary proposition; adaptability and risk-taking are crucial elements to success. This trend effectively shifts HR’s primary emphasis from employees and centers it, instead, on the work organizations must accomplish. This makes HR the catalyst for optimizing talent and organizational performance. To ensure success in this strategic role, HR functions are beginning to redefine--and put much more focus on--workforce planning to drive talent strategies and take purposeful action to mitigate business risk.

Workforce planning reimagined

More than ever, HR must work effectively with the business to accurately define business goals and associated workforce needs. This requires projecting future skills and staffing needs, then taking the step of determining whether employees or nontraditional workers will best meet the requirements of any given work situation. This reimagined approach--while still encompassing the forecasting, supply/demand projections, gap analysis, and business-planning focus of traditional workforce planning--takes the process to new levels.

7 Steps of Workforce Planning

Deconstructing work is a key step

To determine if work is best performed by employees or non-employees--leading the work as John Boudreau and his co-authors term it--HR must first deconstruct the work to be done. This involves analyzing jobs, determining if they can be broken into component projects or tasks, and, if so, how small those tasks can and should be.

Subsequent decisions encompass whether to disperse tasks within or outside an organization, whether the work must be done at a specific time and place, and what rewards might attach to accomplishing the work. These are just some of the many considerations relevant to deconstructing work, and they speak to the breadth of expertise HR will be called upon to provide to enable this effort.

The process as a system

Once an organization has segmented its roles to determine which are critical and/or pivotal for success, detailed deconstruction of those roles will be required to determine the various work that needs to be accomplished for each role. This helps provide a deeper understanding of work as well as the current supply of and future demands for the talent for each work segment. All of this enables better decisions around whether to build, buy, poach, borrow, or rent talent. Constantly identifying and monitoring talent, wherever it is located, and presenting an appealing talent brand to attract the best workers will be critical aspects of successful competition.

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Jay Jamrog
Jay is a futurist and has devoted the past 25 years to identifying and analyzing the major issues and trends affecting the management of people in organizations.