Challenges of Workforce Planning

Our fifth installment of Developing a Workforce Plan involves Challenges.  Businesses do not just decide to have a Workforce Plan, discuss it, and it happens.  There are unique and expected Challenges of Workforce Planning that you will face when establishing a workforce plan that adds value.  These challenges, if not addressed and overcome fully in the process, will doom your Workforce Plan before it ever starts.

What are the Challenges of Workforce Planning?

In their book, The Workforce Scorecard, by Huselid, Becker, and Beatty, they identify 3 Challenges to Workforce Planning.  These are:

The Perspective Challenge – The need for managers to undergo a shift in their thinking about the workforce; from a cost to be minimized to the primary source of growth and value creation.

The Metrics Challenge – Requires developing the metrics to assess and help guide the execution of workforce strategy. For Line as well as HR Managers, the strategy and metrics should focus on the workforce and not just the HR function.

The Execution Challenge – Involves helping managers use workforce data to improve the quality of decision making in their businesses.

These challenges must be overcome.  Those who are not onboard must be brought on board; in some instances even replaced. The complete buy-in of business leadership is an imperative to the successful development and execution of a workforce plan.   How do you overcome these challenges:  It begins with:

The Perspective Challenge – Overcoming this involves changing how management, and the business, view the workforce.  The development of an understanding that we must focus on the contribution of he workforce and not just its cost.  Further, Line Management and HR must embrace the idea that they have a shared responsibility for workforce success.

The Metrics Challenge – Leaders and Management must develop measurements that matter.  These measurements must demonstrate those things that drive strategy execution.  These measurements must show how the workforce contributes not only to strategy execution but to strategy success.

The Execution Strategy – This requires first that workforce success measures be a routine part of managerial decision making.  It also requires the development and execution of 3 unique strategies, one of which is the Business Strategy.  Aligned or supporting strategies for the Workforce and for HR (These are separate strategies) are also necessary.  Top leadership must be very clear in their expectations for the workforce in delivering business success.  Accountability must be measured and be clear.

One noticeable difference in these approaches involves HR.  HR’s role is not being administratively efficient.  Rather, its role is on how well it contributes to workforce success.  This same level of accountability is also applied to Senior Executives and Line Managers.

The success of any Workforce Plan depends on how well you:

  • Measure
  • Establish Accountability
  • Execute

Failure to successfully accomplish any one of these 3 points will doom the plan to mediocrity at best and total failure at worst.  Executive Leadership, Management, and HR must work together to be successful.  You may find that the needed skills to plan and execute this strategy are missing from your business.  Your options then become one of training, replacing, or using external resources such as Consultants and Advisors.  Regardless of your choices a well designed, developed and executed Workforce Plan will ensure the sustainable success of your business, attract and retain the right workers, and add value to shareholders.

Next Week – Measuring Your Workforce Plan

The Series so Far: