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Trends, Product and Industry Insights to Help Create Your HR Tomorrow, Today.

4 Trends Impacting Workforce Planning

Guest Author

By Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources

How can HR leaders build a workforce plan when we don't know what the future will be? We could enter another global recession or our businesses might grow like crazy. We almost certainly will be working with more robots and chatbots a decade from now. The truth is, our future is almost always unknown because of a slew of variables that we can’t control.

Planning is HR's never-ending challenge, but like every other business function, it’s an important part of our responsibility. For HR, planning requires insight from all of the other functions we support, so we can be somewhat accurate, and this adds to the challenge. Fortunately, we’re in a better place than ever for workforce planning because we have solutions that help us gather, analyze, and use workforce data to prepare our organizations for the future.

4 Trends Impacting Workforce Planning: HR professionals need data-driven solutions to plan for workforces of the future.

All that said, it’s fine if you are still a bit apprehensive about jumping into your next workforce plan. Keeping the following trends in mind should help:

  1. Changing demographics will have a major impact on our workforce plans. This trend is multi-dimensional and is influencing many other trends. First, we will have five generations of employees, all with different skills, life experiences, and expectations. On the other hand, we’ll also have a large number of workers leaving for retirement, and (yet another trend) not enough incoming candidates to replace them.

    The solution is to be more collaborative and data-driven in planning because all parts of the organization will be affected by these changes. Use advanced analytics to provide context and guidance about how to most effectively fill needs.
     
  2. Employees and candidates want easy, on-demand solutions and responses. This means we need modern learning and development technology in place to help grow talent faster. We also need to provide an exceptional experience to job candidates using consumer-like tools, such as chatbots and personalized content.
     
  3. Remote work can be a solution but is still underused. We underutilize remote work mainly because we have aging leadership who still feels they need to see workers in the office, or the work must not be getting done. In other words, HR and other department managers have not delivered a solution that measures performance and success of remote workers to prove that remote work is as effective as those employees doing work from an office.
     
  4. Advancement expectations will take center stage. Guess what, young people want to be the boss and it’s not a generational thing. Many fresh employees entering the workforce will be laser-focused on career advancement and that’s to be expected. Organizations that succeed at succession and mobility are leaders at setting clear expectations for advancement with their employees and their candidates.

While you can’t predict the future, it is getting easier to align workforce plans with future needs. Modern cloud solutions enable us to be in tune with workforce and market data, access credible insights from functional partners of where they see the business going, and use predictive analytics to help guide us directionally.

Ultimately, no plan is perfect. The key is to use the best-available data and insight you can find and then develop a plan framed in the tone that the leadership is expecting. If your leaders are looking for aggressive growth, you need to present a plan to meet that growth, even if your style is more conservative. If your leaders see a slowdown and modest growth, you can't present a plan that is designed for large-growth disruption. Striking the right balance is key to developing a plan that will meet the needs of the organization and also easily digested by your leaders. 

It's definitely a fine line, but in today’s competitive climate, it's critical to have the workforce you need to deliver a great customer experience, as well as a great employee experience for today and in the future. 

Download the Oracle infographic, “Empower Your Employees to Do Their Best Work,” for tips on how to align tech to employee needs.

With over 15 years of experience in talent acquisition, Tim Sackett is president of HRU Technical Resources and also has worked as a staffing director on the corporate side with companies like Applebee’s International, ShopKo Stores, Inc., and Sparrow Health System. He’s an active HR blogger and conference presenter.

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