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Workforce Planning for an uncertain future

Brexit...Trump...North Korea...hung parliament.

What a 12 month’s it’s been!

Whilst economic and political turmoil has always affected workforce planning and management, it feels like we’re living in exceptional times.

As highlighted by this recent round table of industry leaders, many are starting to come to terms with the fact that managing uncertainty is becoming the new normal.

In an interconnected, globalised world ‘benign’ conditions are becoming a rarity.

Instead organisations are having to constantly respond and adapt to external factors that influence their internal processes and resourcing models.

Perfect storm

We regularly hold Workforce Planning Masterclasses where we explore many of the macro issues which are driving the need to maintain an optimised and responsive workforce.

These include:

  • The UK’s productivity lag - Why is it that we persistently underperform…could it be we’re working harder not smarter?
  • Higher employment costs - Costs are rising which is compounding the effects of low productivity. This is being driven by a range of factors including the National Living Wage, Apprentice levy, rising inflation and industry-specific factors.
  • Battle for talent - Many industries face harmful skills shortages and nearly all organisations are having to deal with record employment levels and appealing to the millennial generation.
  • Employer brand - There is increased political, media and union scrutiny of labour models and many large employers are seeing their reputation damaged by workforce practices.
  • Market disruption - Most sectors will feel the effects of increased global competition after Brexit but some are facing more fundamental challenges posed by new technology-enabled operating models.
  • Meeting service expectations - Delivering the highest levels of service is key to surviving & thriving. Empowered customers, citizens and digital channels are creating constant pressure to outperform.
  • Moving to a 24/7 society: Our ‘always on’ culture is creating new demand profiles that generate new labour supply requirements.
  • Remaining compliant: Organisations face a myriad of regulation changes (travel to work time, holiday pay & overtime, health and safety) allied to increasingly punitive regulator fines and more emphasis from the C-suite on Corporate Social Responsibility and avoiding reputational threats.

These are just some of the broad challenges employers face. It emphasises how important it is that organisations ensure they are lean and nimble enough to action change quickly.

They need to be the right size, the right shape, and have the right people available at the right time.

Planning for the unknown:

As workforce planning and management experts we regularly help organisations modernise their working patterns and put in place the software, systems and processes to ensure their labour supply remains aligned to demand.

Each customer faces different challenges and opportunities. We help them to understand the potential impact of change on their resourcing models and design new ways of working which enable them to respond effectively today…and every day.

This approach often includes:

  • Simplifying and standardising complex legacy contracts, processes and structures. Many organisations are ‘payroll-led’ and hamstrung by traditional, misaligned patterns that inhibit flexibility. Replacing old ways of working with new systems such as Demand-Led Rostering and Annualised Hours ensures an organisation and its workforce are in an optimal position to react to change.
  • Supporting the cultural conditions which create a ‘change ready’ workforce and empowering people to affect change. Employee understanding and influence over working patterns is key to maintaining an engaged and resilient workforce. Through co-design we help employees appreciate the drivers and process behind change, supporting the organisational rationale with data insights and expert views.
  • Understanding demand trends, business requirements/constraints and employee aspirations and using this as the basis for modelling future organisational scenarios enables organisations to anticipate and plan future workforce requirements. Preparedness can be the key to responding quickly, either seizing opportunities or limiting the impact of challenging conditions.
  • Embedding the insight, processes and tools that supports continuous improvement. This knowledge and technology transfer helps to ensure a workforce remains agile and responsive to change now and in the future.
  • ‘Optioneering’ in support of recruitment and retention. Organisations can better adapt to changing workforce demographics and labour market demands if they design and implement working patterns that appeal to a wide range of employees and candidates.

As John F. Kennedy famously said:

“There is nothing more certain and unchanging than uncertainty and change.”

Organisations need to accept this as a fundamental part of their workforce strategy and embrace new ways of working that are flexible, responsive and resilient.

If you’d like to know more about how we could help enhance your workforce strategy and change readiness, book a free one-to-one consultation with one of our experts now.

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