There is a sense of beauty in a process, whether simple or complicated, when things fall into place “naturally” or “seamlessly” as you progress toward a goal or vision. Workforce Planning is one of those elements in an organization that help things fall into place “naturally” or “seamlessly.” It builds the capacity of an organization to realize its vision.
If you are outcome driven, you may see Workforce Planning as something like “getting the right people, at the right time, at the right price.” If you like the journey, you may enjoy the process it takes to increase an organization’s awareness as to what it really takes to drive and deliver its goals and vision in a resilient and sustainable way.
Workforce Planning is a process where Strategy meets Operations meets Human Resources meets Risk Management meets Supply Chain meets Community meets... Many voices needed to define what “real work” is and not fall into “work as imagined”.
Real work is about understanding an organization’s performance capacity in the context it operates, and its margin of operations. When are we running too thin or stretched? When do we have over capacity? Should this work be outsourced or done in-house? It is being able to tackle these questions and others about workforce, not because it is happening today forcing us to react often we few options, but because we anticipate it from heighten awareness with the capacity to influence with options as wide as the horizon, in service of a vision.
Why does this matter?
It matters when developing a workforce planning practice in an organization. You need people who connect across the organization and reach beyond their boundaries. There is a lot of exploration. Another way of looking at it: you need people who can put their noses in others peoples business, while getting along, to be able to understand how things really work, and develop insights. You also need people who enjoy it, the discovery process and/or the outcomes it delivers.
I worked with one HR employee assigned to the development of a new Workforce Planning practice for one large organization. After 8 months of hard and great work understanding all the intricacies of operations requirements, business factors driving staffing needs, new strategic initiatives, operation improvement initiatives, career ladders, demographics, retirement and promotion patterns, labor market, etc. he mentioned to me: “I feel that I know more about operations now than the VP of Operations himself, and I do not care to know more”. He was tired of digging and figuring out how things really worked. The interest was gone.