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How workforce supply data can effectively drive workforce planning strategies

01 Feb 17

Despite the boundless opportunities data presents to business and HR leaders, the biggest challenge and concern that stops them from leveraging the data to determine business strategies is its accuracy.

In a perfect world, the data residing in each of a business’ information systems would be completely accurate, updated, and easily accessible for the C-Suite. However, in reality, if businesses were to wait for this utopia to arrive, they would never start workforce planning strategies at all.

As the way we work continues to change at a rapid pace, organisations that do not embark on workforce planning strategies in 2017 will undoubtedly start to fall behind competitors that do.

With long-term planning over a five to 15 year period proving to be a key characteristic of high-performing organisations, business leaders need to start recognising that appropriate workforce planning will not only benefit HR and people strategies, but it will also directly impact the business’ bottom line.

Proactive strategies aiming to understand how a business’ needs will evolve over time with changes to technological advancements, macro-economic shifts, and the way people work, will enable business leaders to effectively forecast their human resource needs of the future, and understand how to plan for them today.

For example, a significant shift from full-time to part-time and casual roles should be a warning bell to employers that more flexible types of working are what current generations are demanding, and what future generations will expect.

So how can businesses prepare themselves while futureproofing against macro-level shifts in how we work?

For businesses wanting to survive the disruption that will inevitably reach their industry within the next decade, and thrive by attracting the best talent of future generations, it will be critical to start pivoting their hiring models today.

Effective use and analysis of workforce supply and demand data can help businesses navigate through these macro-level changes in the workforce, as well as develop strategies that futureproof them against the unpredictable nature and impact of technological advancements.

Optimising workforce supply with core competency planning

When a role or skill needs to be filled, there is a growing trend to look externally for talent to address the gap.

However, what many business leaders overlook is how this could create a de-motivating work environment for other employees, providing less enthusiasm to aim for internal promotions, and also potentially creating higher volumes of work in the short-term as the new employee will need to be on-boarded.

The end result is lower productivity among existing staff, and a difficult onboarding process for the new staff member. 

To optimise output, workforce supply data analytics can be used to identify the core competencies required to accomplish strategic goals, and whether existing talent can meet the business’ current and foreseeable challenges.

This could relate to upcoming projects or product launches, or potential skills gaps with anticipated parental leavers. The data analysis can highlight for business leaders where human capital is exceeding expectations and where it is falling short.

Ultimately, it opens up opportunities for new allocations of “people” resources and the sharing of best practices to ensure positive and lasting improvements. 

Workforce supply data analytics can also grant businesses the opportunity to create databases to continuously track specific training and development programs. This enables business leaders to see which roles are producing optimal impact, and then expand these to address lingering shortcomings in personnel capabilities.

Addressing retirement and succession planning with smart analytics

With what McCrindle Research is calling the “biggest leadership succession ever” because of the upcoming retirement “tsunami”, organisations of all sizes and industries need to start preparing for this major shift in staff aged 65 and over.

Through workforce analytics, retirement and succession management can be incorporated into customisable dashboards that clearly demonstrate which employees are likely to retire within the next months or years.

From here, HR and business leaders can determine which roles need to be recruited for or how internal promotions can fill the gaps, what skills are required, and whether these changes will impact other departments.

Analysing employee engagement initiatives to enhance workforce productivity

Positive company culture and strong employee engagement can undeniably influence a business’ bottom line today. In-depth analysis of satisfaction surveys and other employee data can help businesses evaluate which areas or departments benefit most from high engagement.

Depending on the department its individuals, engagement could stem from internal encouragement and communication, training and development programs, or unique performance review processes.

Regular data analysis of existing employees and their behaviour can provide these insights to business leaders and enable them to apply successful tactics of highly engaged teams to others throughout the business.

With the constant changes to the Australian workforce and how we work, businesses need to be able to stay ahead of the curve, and anticipate how these changes will impact their HR and overall business strategies.

Having sustainable and forward-looking strategies in place will not only prepare the business for future generations of digital native employees, but also help them build an employer brand that attracts and retains the best talent in the market. 

Article by Karen Evans, Managing Director, APAC, Acendre

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