Four emerging trends in strategic workforce planning

June 30, 201510:36 am
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'.removespecialchars(''.insertspecialchars('THE PICTURE IS CLEAR – soon there will be people from five generations within the workforce: Traditionalists, baby-boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Generation Y) and Generation 2020.').'').'
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It is also clear that Gen Y will soon become the majority in the workforce, whereas baby-boomers and Generation X will start to decrease.

Hence, it is vital for organisations to manage the great diversity of age, potential, ability and lifestyles of people from different generations to fully reap the benefits. As a result, we have seen a great quantity of advice on how to adjust to this change, especially in terms of the business policies and human-resource administration.

Still, being equipped with only policies and HR administration is not sufficient to support the growth of these organisations. Strategic workforce planning is also indispensable.

Obviously business-strategy formulation is critical to organisational success. When it comes to implementing or executing such strategies, however, many executives fail to achieve even the first stage, focusing merely on the business side of the strategy while ignoring the people side.

In essence, when long-term and sustainable success is the core objectives of a business, strategic workforce planning is a key to moving the organisation forward in the preferred direction.

Here are four significant emerging workforce movements to consider when planning how to maximise your organisation’s potential.

Trend 1: Workforce demand will be higher than workforce supply.

It is estimated that in the near future, organisations will begin to run short of skilled employees such as scientists, technologists, mathematicians and engineers.

In the general workforce market, it is predicted that the incoming rate of the new workers will not compensate for the outgoing rate of those who retire. Consequently, many organisations are now starting to adopt “workforce portfolios” that can deal with the shortage of human resources. For example, they may develop various types of employment contracts to suit different workforce divisions, raise retirement ages, attract qualified young employees while they are still in university, and find ways to lure back employees who have resigned.

Trend 2: Borderless workforce.

Given the shortage of skilled or specialised employees, the lack of new ideas for business development and limited resources, many organisations are now employing the concept of the “borderless workforce”.

The idea is to pursue employees who are capable of working across businesses and across boundaries. For instance, Apple manufactures its products in China because whereas it might take nine months to find enough engineers in the United States to bring a new gadget to market, it takes only 15 days in China. Therefore, it is essential for organisations to consider carefully which kind of workforce they need and where such people can be found.

Trend 3: Reinventing your workforce model.

As the world continues to change and markets continue to compete fiercely, the traditional workforce model needs to adapt to the changing landscape.

For example, it is widely known that most mature companies tend to rely on their internal research and development departments to create organic growth and bring out new products every year. Such innovation was easier to execute when the world was smaller and less competitive.

Procter & Gamble followed that strategy too until one day it realised that the invent-it-ourselves model was not capable of sustaining high levels of top-line growth. As a result, a radical transformation was made in its traditional workforce model by moving from a “research and development” to a “connect and development” strategy, in which the company believes that external connections can produce highly profitable innovations too.

Therefore, instead of depending solely on its 7,500 researchers and support staff, P&G could tap the potential of a perhaps 1.5 million people who could help expand the company’s business opportunities.

Trend 4: Managing workforce diversity.

Nowadays, running a business is about managing complexity and preparing for constant changes. We have seen joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions becoming more and more evident, and for that reason the entire workforce landscape and workforce profile have changed. Thus, managing workforce diversity should become a main focus for these organisations.

However, managing workforce diversity should not only focus on communication and management, but also on handling conflicts as well reward systems so that people can easily assimilate with the new culture.

As the world is moving at an extremely rapid pace, technology will continuously develop, regulations will keep changing, and workforce landscapes will never cease to alter. Therefore, it is vital for organisations to implement strategic workforce planning as their main priority to tackle an unstable future.