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B Wilkerson
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One of the most challenging tasks in workforce planning is trying to determine the demand for new positions or new functions. This is particularly true when they are not only new to the organization, but also new to the field or the industry. Lately we have seen an increase in these types of positions driven by everything from new products and technologies to new regulations such as the Affordable Care Act. In some cases we have seen them be created out of reorganizations or restructuring of work, or even changes in the mix between onshore and offshore functions. But how do you effectively project demand when there is no history to work from? Certainly it is challenging, but just like companies who face the task of projecting demand for new products, there are ways that organizations can tackle this challenge. Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
There are a number of techniques in workforce planning that are useful for analyzing your company’s strategy. Once the strategy has been defined, workforce planning can be used to test the assumptions behind it and to look at sensitivities to key assumptions. This analysis leverages the existing structure for workforce planning that should already exist. Specifically, it should leverage your process analysis, productivity analysis, external factors data, and any key business ratio or metric data. Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
Cost-cutting is a periodic reality of organization life. Whether caused by the overall economy, industry dynamics, or company actions it is something that almost all organizations face at some point. But too often, cost-cutting decisions are still made in very qualitative or across-the-board ways that have a long-term detrimental impact on the organization. With the evolution of workforce planning this is both unnecessary and unwise. Workforce planning provides a platform by which cost-cutting can be done as a quantitative precision exercise where outcomes are more certain and the ability of the organization to remain effective can be preserved. Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
In past blogs, I have talked about the predictive power of workforce planning and how it can be transformative to organizations – all the way to helping identify the need to create new business models. From a day-to-day perspective, effective workforce planning can be a critical component in linking HR to the Business Strategy, specifically in helping organizations understand how to "make their numbers". Whatever metrics your organization uses to determine its success, workforce planning can provide critical guidance on what the organization needs to do from a people perspective in order to achieve those measures of success. Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
As more organizations have established their workforce planning functions, some seem to be struggling to keep their plans in sync with the pace of business change. In recent conversations, there have been a number of questions about how dynamic workforce planning should be. Among some organizations who have an established workforce planning function, there has been some concern expressed by line managers that the function is not "keeping up". Many of the clients where this issue has come up have a workforce planning team that has fallen into what I would almost call an "HRIS" mode of operating. They publish a monthly update to their standard set of reports and forecasts and they respond to ad-hoc requests for analysis. Many of those requests require some sort of custom analysis and the response time in the organizations I talked to ranged from 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on the request. When I spoke with the business leaders, I heard some of the same complaints that I often hear in regards to HRIS - too slow to respond, numbers with no insight, and a lack of relevance to the problems they are facing. Workforce planning has become like many other aspects of HR for them - a one size fits all approach that doesn't have day-to-relevance to their world. Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
Today I wanted to focus on the changing job market and its implications for workforce planning. We have all watched largely positive job reports and continued decreases in the unemployment rate overall, with even faster jobs growth in some states. But the overall unemployment market data doesn't necessarily tell the full story of the changing job market. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
As I have thought about the future evolutions of workforce planning, I still see more convergence assuming that Human Capital Planning is being done correctly - that is that it includes an in-depth quantitative analysis of workforce factors and optimizes key business metrics like productivity. That echoes some of the themes that I have talked about in the past, but I also want to introduce a concept that we have been using for a while - Total Workforce Strategy (TWS). Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at The Workforce Expert
I wanted to provide a preview of some of our research focus areas for next year. We would be happy to hear any feedback that you might have on this research agenda, and we are actively seeking companies who would like to collaborate in any of these research areas. Our research topics for 2016 will include: The On-Demand Workforce, Organization Agility, and Enhancing Resilience. Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Over the next few months, I will be doing a series of posts related to the On-Demand Workforce. Our firm has been working in this area for some time, and as the concept continues to emerge, we will be putting forward more and more emerging practices and lessons learned from... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Effective workforce planning relies on robust data across a wide range of factors. We need to look at skills, costs, locations, employment brand, inputs, outputs, labor markets, and a host of others. Much of the data that we need can be directly measured or obtained from some sort of discrete internal or external source. The exception to that would be Employee Engagement. Not only is this hard to truly measure, but it is even harder to determine how it really impacts workforce planning and the metrics we care about. But getting an understanding of the relationship between engagement and factors such as productivity is critical to gaining the kind of precision we would like to have in workforce planning. Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Workforce planning is about starts. I spend a great deal of time on this blog talking about advanced techniques and how planners can push their techniques and strategies. But for many organizations, they are still struggling with getting started. Even with all of the focus on analytics and workforce planning over the past several years, many organizations have not been able to get the capability off the ground. It could be talent (which is very scarce), it could be lack of data, it could be lack of buy-in, or it could be any number of things. But for these organizations, how do they get that start? Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
A question that I am frequently asked is how much should you expect managers to use workforce planning data vs. functional experts in places such as HR or Finance? In my experience, a model that does push workforce planning data out to line managers is essential as it puts the data in the hands of those who have the most stake in making the decisions. This hopefully helps them make better talent (and consequently business) decisions. In this post I will discuss strategies for training managers on how to best use workforce planning data. Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Some of you know that I have been involved in looking at creative alternatives to offshoring for many years. I even had a book chapter published a number of years ago about some work we did to help a growing company develop a hybrid sourcing strategy that brought some jobs back onshore while simultaneously leveraging some offshore sourcing advantages and reducing costs. Over the past several years, I have been worked on a number of projects to help companies dissatisfied with their current offshore operations to take advantage of an opportunity back in the US – locating their operations on Native American reservations and capitalizing on the advantages that this can provide. Some call this type of approach "Re-Shoring". A couple of years ago I wrote a post on this topic. Since then, the number of cases of re-shoring have increased and the level of sophistication has even further improved, so I thought I would revisit the topic briefly. Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Scenario Modeling is an important technique for workforce planners – being able to present multiple potential futures and the associated paths in terms of workforce actions is a great way to help decision-makers determine the right strategies for achieving their workforce goals. But I often see scenario modeling done poorly. Much of the talk that I see about scenario modeling now is talking about undisciplined approaches to looking at a relatively small number of options. They are not comprehensive approaches to looking at changes in economics, technology, workforce demographics and other key variables that will influence the outcomes of workforce plans. Today, we have more opportunity than ever to build robust scenarios and look at multiple potential futures because of advances in computing and decision support. Here are some keys to success in my experience. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
As workforce planning continues its evolution, there are many organizations who have built solid capabilities that are changing the way Human Capital decisions are made. These organizations are seeing value from have the right talent when they need it, higher retention of the right talent, skills acquisition before it is needed, productivity increases, and increased ability to attract talent in the market. A smaller number have built very strong predictive capabilities and see further value from being able to concretely support evolving business strategies with nimble Human Capital strategies that really work. What's next for these organizations? What are the new frontiers? Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
In recent blogs I have talked about how to get workforce planning embedded in the business and how to get managers to use the data. But I don't want to forget about HR. Done properly, workforce planning is a critical component to developing HR Strategy. This post will focus on what are the key "answers" that you can expect to get out of workforce planning and how it can be used in HR Strategy. Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
In many of our organizations, the staffing dynamic has fundamentally changed. The restructuring, reductions in force, "less with more" and other focus points that organizations have had over the past 7+ years have decreased the stability (and consequently the predictability) of the workforce. For this post, I wanted to talk about an interesting dynamic that we have begun to see more frequently in our workforce planning projects. In some organizations, we were finding that the future projections with regards to productivity and performance of teams were not accurate. This was particularly true in organizations where there had been significant layoffs or turnover, and then the teams were starting to build back up. Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
As I have discussed in previous posts, building an effective workforce planning function is a journey. Both building the initial infrastructure and integrating workforce planning into the way organizations make decisions takes time and effort, and requires both effective planning skills and strong change management. In this blog I wanted to talk about some of the strategies and things not to do when trying to implement workforce planning. Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
This blog discusses day-to-day workforce planning extensively, with a focus on ongoing optimization of the workforce through regular planning and scenario modeling. But I wanted to touch briefly one of the most powerful applications of workforce planning - mergers & acquisitions. I have been involved in more than 20 transactions... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Developing the workforce of the future is increasingly a focus of clients these days. A number of organizations are trying to proactively re-invent their workforce to shape it for the future. The future that they envision requires much more flexibility in skills and deployments, and requires an agility that doesn’t exist in organizations today. It reflects changing preferences of both employees and employers and includes often shorter tenures (both in position and with the company), more use of contingent labor, more flexibility in work arrangements, different rewards, and a host of other elements. Workforce planning can be a big help in both developing and managing this future workforce. So let’s revisit some of the key concepts around shaping a future workforce. Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Today I wanted to talk a bit more about what it looks like when you get there and how it changes your organization. Often I find that you can measure the effectiveness of a workforce planning program by how the organization makes people decisions. Companies with good workforce planning look very different and tend to make much better decisions related to people... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
I was meeting with a software startup today that is doing some interesting things in the social collaboration space as it applies to recognition and innovation. They put forth the concept of effective management as a factor that actually multiplied engagement in an organization (and thereby potentially productivity). As a planner I thought I would explore how this concept might play out when looking at the workforce. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
In previous posts I have discussed ways to address data quality issues and how to start workforce planning with whatever amount of historical data that you may have. And I have often encouraged planners to not spend 18 months cleaning up their data before they start planning, but rather to have an approach for improving data quality and quantity while at the same time being able to build the fundamentals of workforce planning. Recently I also posted about how to workforce plan against new positions that haven't existed in the past. Today I want to talk about another case - when there is history but not the right kind of history to do real workforce planning. Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
A question that often comes up in discussions of workforce planning and building the capability in organizations is around software. Companies struggling to implement robust workforce planning capabilities often start to look to software as a means to accelerate their journey. Unfortunately these organizations often find that purchasing software too early in the development of their workforce planning capabilities not only fails to accelerate their growth in that area, it can sometimes hinder their ability to get traction with workforce planning. Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2015 at The Workforce Expert
Many organizations have begun to make significant progress on building a robust set of HR analytics. This often includes dashboards with high quality graphics and a wide ranging set of data elements. Some give decision makers directional guidance through tools like "stop lights" that show when a metric is in a red, yellow, or green status based on pre-defined thresholds. The logical question is often "what next?" or more specifically, how do I go from understanding the past to predicting the future? Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2015 at The Workforce Expert